1. Confucius is reported to have said on one occasion, 'If some years were added to my life, I would give fifty to the study of the Yî, and might then escape falling into great errors 1:1.'
|There was a Yî in the time of Confucius|
to discourse with his disciples were those of History, Poetry, and Rites and Ceremonies 2:1; but ere he passed away from among them, his attention was much occupied also by the Yî as a monument of antiquity, which in the prime of his days he had too much neglected.
2. Khien says that Confucius wrote various appendixes to the Yî, specifying all but two of the treatises, which go
|The Yî is now made up of the Text which Confucius saw and the Appendixes ascribed to him|
3. The Yî happily escaped the fires of Žhin, which proved so disastrous to most of the ancient literature of China in
|The Yî escaped the fires of Žhin|
In the catalogue of works in the imperial library, prepared by Liû Hin about the beginning of our era, there is an enumeration of those on the Yî and its Appendixes,--the books of thirteen different authors or schools, comprehended in 294 portions of larger or smaller dimensions 2:3. I need not follow the history and study of the Yî into the line of the centuries since the time of Liû Hin. The imperial Khang-hsî edition of it, which appeared in 1715, contains quotations from the commentaries of 218 scholars, covering, more or less closely, the time from the second century B. C. to our seventeenth century. I may venture to say that
those 218 are hardly a tenth of the men who have tried to interpret the remarkable book, and solve the many problems to which it gives rise.
4. It may be assumed then that the Yî King, properly
|The Yî before Confucius, and when it was made|
(i) The earliest mention of the classic is found in the
|The Yî mentioned in the Official Book of Kâu|
was existing, among the archives of the kingdom, under the charge of a high officer, 'the Yî of Kâu,'--what constitutes the Text of the present Yî; the Text, that is, as distinguished from the Appendixes. There were two other Yî, known as the Lien-shan and the Kwei-žhang. It would be a waste of time to try to discover the meaning of these designations. They are found in this and another passage of the Official Book; and nowhere else. Not a single trace of what they denoted remains, while we possess 'the Yî of Kâu' complete 4:1.
(ii) In the Supplement of Žo Khiû-ming to 'the Spring and Autumn,'
|The Yî mentioned in the Žo Khwan|
accounts of divination by the Yî interspersed over the long intervening period. For centuries before Confucius appeared on the stage of his country, the Yî was well known among the various feudal states, which then constituted the Middle Kingdom 5:1.
(iii) We may now look into one of the Appendixes for its testimony to the age and authorship of the Text. The third Appendix is the longest, and the most important 5:2. In the 49th paragraph of the second Section of it it is said:--
'Was it not in the middle period of antiquity that the Yî began to flourish? Was not he who made it (or were not they who made it) familiar with anxiety and calamity?'
The highest antiquity commences, according to Chinese writers, with Fû-hsî, B.C. 3322; and the lowest with Confucius in the middle of the sixth century B.C. Between these is the period of middle antiquity, extending a comparatively short time, from the rise of the Kâu dynasty, towards the close of the twelfth century B.C., to the Confucian era. According to this paragraph it was in this period that our Yî was made.
The 69th paragraph is still more definite in its testimony:--
'Was it not in the last age of the Yin (dynasty), when the virtue of Kâu had reached its highest point, and during the troubles between king Wăn and (the tyrant) Kâu, that (the study of) the Yî began to flourish? On this account the explanations (in the book) express (a feeling of) anxious apprehension, (and teach) how peril may be turned into security, and easy carelessness is sure to meet with overthrow.'
The dynasty of Yin was superseded by that of Kâu in B. C. 1122. The founder of Kâu was he whom we call king Wăn, though he himself never occupied the throne. The
troubles between him and the last sovereign of Yin reached their height in B. C. 1143, when the tyrant threw him into prison in a place called Yû-lî, identified as having been in the present district of Thang-yin, department of Kang-teh, province of Ho-nan. Wăn was not kept long in confinement. His friends succeeded in appeasing the jealousy of his enemy, and securing his liberation in the following year. It follows that the Yî, so far as we owe it to king Wăn, was made in the year B.C. 1143 or 1142, or perhaps that it was begun in the former year and finished in the latter 6:1.
But the part which is thus ascribed to king Wăn is only a small portion of the Yî. A larger share is attributed to his son Tan, known as the duke of Kâu, and in it we have allusions to king Wû, who succeeded his father Wăn, and was really the first sovereign of the dynasty of Kâu 6:2. There are passages, moreover, which must be understood of events in the early years of the next reign. But the duke of Kâu died in the year B. C. 1105, the 11th of king Khăng. A few years then before that time, in the last decade of the twelfth century B. C., the Yî King, as it has come down to us, was complete 6:3.
5. We have thus traced the text of the Yî to its authors, the famous king Wăn in the year 1143 B. C., and his
|The Yî is not the most ancient of the Chinese books|
in 1834 by the late Jules Mohl, with a title commencing 'Y-King, antiquissimus Sinarum liber 7:1.' The language of the other European translator of it, the Rev. Canon McClatchie of Shanghâi, whose work appeared in 1876, is still more decided. The first sentence of his Introduction contains two very serious misstatements, but I have at present to do only with the former of them;--that 'the Yî King is regarded by the Chinese with peculiar veneration, . . . . as being the most ancient of their classical writings.' The Shû is the oldest of the Chinese classics, and contains documents more, than a thousand years earlier than king Wăn. Several pieces of the Shih King are also older than anything in the Yî; to which there can thus he assigned only the third place in point of age among the monuments of Chinese literature. Existing, however, about 3000 years ago, it cannot be called modern. Unless it be the books of the Pentateuch, Joshua, and judges, an equal antiquity cannot be claimed for any portion of our Sacred Scriptures.
It will be well to observe here also how much older the
|The Text much older than the Appendixes|
can be received as only partially correct, if indeed it be received at all, the sage could not have entered on their composition earlier than B.C. 483, 660 years later than the portion of the text that came from king Wăn, and nearly 630 later than what we owe to the duke of Kâu. But during that long period of between six and seven centuries changes may have arisen in the views taken by thinking men of the method and manner of the Yî; and I cannot accept the Text and the Appendixes as forming one work in any proper sense of the term. Nothing has prevented the full understanding of both, so far as parts of the latter can be understood, so much as the blending of them together, which originated with Pî Kih of the first Han dynasty. The common editions of the book have five of the Appendixes (as they are ordinarily reckoned) broken up and printed side by side with the Text; and the confusion thence arising has made it difficult, through the intermixture of incongruous ideas, for foreign students to lay hold of the meaning.
6. Native scholars have of course been well aware of the difference in time between the appearance of the Text and
|Labours of native scholars on the Yî|
At the same time it is an unfair description of what they
|An imperfect description of their labours|
lame conclusion that its full significance is past finding out 9:1.' A multitude of the native commentaries are of the highest value, and have left little to be done for the elucidation of the Text; and if they say that a passage in an Appendix is 'unfathomable' or 'incalculable,' it is because their authors shrink from allowing, even to themselves, that the ancient sages intermeddled, and intermeddled unwisely, with things too high for them.
When the same writer who thus speaks of native scholars goes on to say that 'in the same way a host
|Erroneous account of the labours of European Chinese scholars|
1:1:1 Confucian Analects, VII, xvi.
1:1:2 The Historical Records; Life of Confucius, p. 12.
2:2:1 Analects, VII, xvii.
2:2:2 Legge's Chinese Classics, I, prolegomena, pp. 6-9.
2:2:3 Books of the Earlier Han; History of Literature, pp. 1, 2.
4:4:1 See the Kâu Kwan (or Lî), Book XXIV, parr. 3, 4, and 27. Biot (Le Tcheou Lî, vol. ii, pp. 70, 71) translates the former two paragraphs thus: 'Il (Le Grand Augure) est préposé aux trois methodes pour les changements (des lignes divinatoires). La première est appelée Liaison des montagnes (Lien-shan); la seconde, Retour et Conservation (Kwei-žhang); la troisième, Changements des Kâu. Pour toutes il y a huit lignes symboliques sacrées, et soixante-quatre combinaisons de ces lignes.'
Some tell us that by Lien-shan was intended Fû-hsî, and by Kwei-žhang Hwang Tî; others, that the former was the Yî of the Hsiâ dynasty, and the latter that of Shang or Yin. A third set will have it that Lien-shan was a designation of Shăn Năng, between Fû-hsî and Hwang Tî. I should say myself, as many Chinese critics do say, that Lien-shan was an arrangement of the lineal symbols in which the first figure was the present 52nd hexagram, Kăn consisting of the trigram representing mountains doubled; and that Kwei-žhang was an arrangement where the first figure was the present 2nd hexagram, Khwăn consisting of the trigram representing the earth doubled,--with reference to the disappearance and safe keeping of plants in the bosom of the earth in winter. All this, however, is only conjecture.
5:5:1 See in the Žo Khwan, under the 22nd year of duke Kwang (B.C. 672); the 1st year of Min (1661); and in his 2nd year (660); twice in the 15th year of Hsî (645); his 25th year (635); the 12th year of Hsüan, (597); the 16th year of Khăng (575); the 9th year of Hsiang (564); his 25th year (548); the 5th year of Khâo (537); his 7th year (535); his 12th year (530); and the 9th year of Âi (486).
5:5:2 That is, the third as it appears farther on in this volume in two Sections. With the Chinese critics it forms the fifth and sixth Appendixes, or, 'Wings,' as they are termed.
6:6:1 Sze-mâ Khien (History of the Kâu Dynasty, p. 3) relates that, 'when he was confined in Yû-lî, Wăn increased the 8 trigrams to 64 hexagrams.'
6:6:2 E.g., hexagrams XVII, 1. 6; XLVI, 1. 4. Tan's authorship of the symbolism is recognised in the Žo Khwan, B. C. 540.
6:6:3 P. Regis (vol. ii, P. 379) says: 'Vel nihil vel parum errabit qui dicet opus Yî King fuisse perfectum anno quinto Khăng Wang, seu anno 1109 aut non ultra annum 1108, ante aerae Christianae initium; quod satis in rebus non omnino certis.' But the fifth year of king Khăng was B. C. 1111.
7:7:1 It has been suggested that 'Antiquissimus Sinarum liber' may mean only 'A very ancient book of the Chinese,' but the first sentence of the Preface to the work commences:--'Inter onmes constat librorum Sinicorum, quos classicos vocant, primum et antiquissimum esse Y-King.'
At the end of M. De Guignes' edition of P. Gaubil's translation of the Shû, there is a notice of the Yî King sent in 1738 to the Cardinals of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide by M. Claude Visdelou, Bishop of Claudiopolis. M. De Guignes says himself, 'L' Y-King est le premier des Livres Canoniques des Chinois.' But P. Visdelou writes more guardedly and correctly:--'Pour son ancienneté, s'il en faut croire les Annales des Chinois, il a été commencé quarante-six siècles avant celui-ci. Si cela est vrai, comme toute la nation l'avoue unanimement, ou peut à juste titre l'appeler le plus ancien des livres.' But he adds, 'Ce n'étoit pas proprement un livre, ni quelque chose d'approchant; c'étoit une énigme très obscure, et plus difficile cent fois à expliquer que celle du sphinx.'
P. Couplet expresses himself much to the same effect in the prolegomena (p. xviii) to the work called 'Confucius Sinarum Philosophus,' published at Paris in 1687 by himself and three other fathers of the Society of Jesus (Intorcetta, Herdritch, and Rougemont). Both they and P. Visdelou give an example of a portion of the text and its interpretation, having singularly selected the same hexagram,--the 15th, on Humility.
9:9:1 See a communication on certain new views about the Yî in the 'Times' of April 20, 1880; reprinted in Trübner's American, European, and Oriental Literary Record, New Series, vol. i, pp. 125-127.
9:9:2 Regis' coadjutors in the work were the Fathers Joseph de Mailla, who turned the Chinese into Latin word for word, and compared the result with the Mankâu version of the Yî; and Peter du Tartre, whose principal business was to supply the historical illustrations. Regis himself revised all their work and enlarged it, adding his own dissertations and notes. See Prospectus Operis, immediately after M. Mohl's Preface.