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[LITERATURE
CHINA

as already used in earlier dictionaries. Further, as the groups of characters would now be more than four times as large as in the Shuo Wên, they were subdivided under each Radical according to the number of strokes in the other, or phonetic part of the character. Thus, adopting letters as strokes, for the purpose of illustration, we should have “dog-nap” in the group of Radical “dog” and three strokes, while “dog-days” and “dog-meat” would both be found under Radical “dog” with four strokes, and so on. The two hundred and fourteen Radicals are themselves arranged in groups according to the number of strokes; so that it is not a very arduous task to turn up ordinary characters in a Chinese dictionary. Finally, although Chinese is a monosyllabic and non-alphabetic language, a method has been devised, and has been in use since the 3rd century A.D., by which the sound of any word can be indicated in a dictionary otherwise than by simply quoting a word of similar sound, which of course may be equally unknown to the searcher. Thus, the sound of a word pronounced ching can be exhibited by selecting two words, one having the initial ch, and the other a final ing. E.g. the sound ching is given as chien ling; that is ch[ien l]ing = ching.

The Concordance.—Considering the long unbroken series of years during which Chinese literature has always, in spite of many losses, been steadily gaining in bulk, it is not astonishing to find that classical, historical, mythological and other allusions to personages or events of past times have also grown out of all proportion to the brain capacity even of the most brilliant student. Designed especially to meet this difficulty, there are several well-known handbooks, elementary and advanced, which trace such allusions to their source and provide full and lucid explanations; but even the most extensive of these is on a scale incommensurate with the requirements of the scholar. Again, it is due to the emperor K‛ang Hsi that we possess one of the most elaborate compilations of the kind ever planned and carried to completion. The P‛ei Wên Yün Fu, or Concordance to Literature, is a key, not only to allusions in general, but to all phraseology, including allusions, idiomatic expressions and other obscure combinations of words, to be found in the classics, in the dynastic histories, and in all poets, historians, essayists, and writers of recognized eminence in their own lines. No attempt at explanation is given; but enough of the passage, or passages, in which the phrase occurs, is cited to enable the reader to gather the meaning required. The trouble, of course, lies with the arrangement of these phrases in a non-alphabetic language. Recourse has been had to the Rhymes and the five Tones (see Language); and all phrases which end with the same word form one of a number of groups which appear under the same Rhyme, the Rhymes themselves being distributed over five Tones. Thus, to find any phrase, the first point is to discover what is its normal Rhyme; the next is to ascertain the Tone of that Rhyme. Then, under this Tone-group the Rhyme-word will be found, and under the Rhyme-word group will be found the final word of the phrase in question. It will now only remain to run through this last group of phrases, all of which have this same final word, and the search—so vast is the collection—will usually yield a satisfactory result. The P‛ei Wên Yün Fu runs of course to many volumes; a rough estimate shows it to contain over fifteen million words.

Encyclopaedias.—In their desire to bring together condensed, yet precise, information on a large variety of subjects, the Chinese may be said to have invented the encyclopaedia. Though not the earliest work of this kind, the T‛ai P‛ing Yü Lan is the first of any great importance. It was produced towards the close of the 10th century A.D., under the direct supervision of the emperor, who is said to have examined three sections every day for about a year, the total number of sections being one thousand in all, arranged under fifty-five headings. Another similar work, dealing with topics drawn from the lighter literature of China, is the T‛ai P‛ing Kuang Chi, which was issued at about the same date as the last-mentioned. Both of these, and especially the former, have passed through several editions. They help to inaugurate the great Sung dynasty, which for three centuries to follow effected so much in the cause of literature. Other encyclopaedias, differing in scope and in plan, appeared from time to time, but it will be necessary to concentrate attention upon two only. The third emperor of the Ming dynasty, known Yuan Lo Ta Tien. as Yung Lo, A.D. 1403–1425, issued a commission for the production of a work on a scale which was colossal even for China. His idea was to collect together all that had ever been written in the four departments of (1) the Confucian Canon, (2) History, (3) Philosophy and (4) General Literature, including astronomy, geography, cosmogony, medicine, divination, Buddhism, Taoism, arts and handicrafts; and in 1408 such an encyclopaedia was laid before the Throne, received the imperial approval and was named Yung Lo Ta Tien, or The Great Standard of Yung Lo. To achieve this, 3 commissioners, with 5 directors, 20 sub-directors and a staff of 2141 assistants, had laboured for the space of five years. Its contents ran to no fewer than 22,877 separate sections, to which must be added an index filling 60 sections. Each section contained about 20 leaves, making a total of 917,480 pages for the whole work. Each page consisted of sixteen columns of characters averaging twenty-five to each column, or a total of 366,992,000 characters, to which, in order to bring the amount into terms of English words, about another third would have to be added. This extraordinary work was never printed, as the expense would have been too great, although it was actually transcribed for that purpose; and later on, two more copies were made, one of which was finally stored in Peking and the other, with the original, in Nanking. Both the Nanking copies perished at the fall of the Ming dynasty; and a similar fate overtook the Peking copy, with the exception of a few odd volumes, at the siege of the legations in 1900. The latter was bound up in 11,100 volumes, covered with yellow silk, each volume being 1 ft. 8 in. in length by 1 ft. in breadth, and averaging over ½ in. in thickness. This would perhaps be a fitting point to conclude any notice of Chinese encyclopaedias, but for the fact that the work of Yung Lo is gone while another encyclopaedia, also on a huge scale, designed and carried out some centuries later, is still an important work of reference.

The T‛u Shu Chi Ch‛êng was planned, and to a great extent made ready, under instructions from the emperor K‛ang Hsi (see above), and was finally brought out by his successor, Yung Chêng, 1723–1736. Intended to embrace all departments of T‛u Shu. knowledge, its contents were distributed over six leading categories, which for want of better equivalents may be roughly rendered by (l) Heaven, (2) Earth, (3) Man, (4) Arts and Sciences, (5) Philosophy and (6) Political Science. These were subdivided into thirty-two classes; and in the voluminous index which accompanies the work a further attempt was made to bring the searcher into still closer touch with the individual items treated. Thus, the category Heaven is subdivided into four classes, namely—again, for want of better terms—(a) The Sky and its Manifestations, (b) The Seasons, (c) Astronomy and Mathematics and (d) Natural Phenomena. Under these classes come the individual items; and here it is that the foreign student is often at a loss. For instance, class a includes Earth, in its cosmogonic sense, as the mother of mankind; Heaven, in its original sense of God; the Dual Principle in nature; the Sun, Moon and Stars; Wind; Clouds; Rainbow; Thunder and Lightning; Rain; Fire, &c. But Earth is itself a geographical category; and all strange phenomena relating to many of the items under class a are recorded under class d. Category No. 6, marked as Political Science, contains such classes as Ceremonial, Music and Administration of Justice, alongside of Handicrafts, making it essential to study the arrangement carefully before it is possible to consult the work with ease. Such preliminary trouble is, however, well repaid, the amount of information given on any particular subject being practically coextensive with what is known about that subject. The method of presenting such information, with variations to suit the nature of the topics handled, is to begin with historical excerpts, chronologically arranged. These are usually followed by sometimes lengthy essays dealing with the subject as a theme, taken from the writings of qualified authors, and like all the other entries, also chronologically arranged. Then come elegant extracts in prose and verse, in all of which the subject may be simply mentioned and not treated as in the essays. After these follow minor notices of incidents, historical and otherwise, and all kinds of anecdotes, derived from a great variety of sources. Occasionally, single poetical lines are brought together, each contributing, some thought or statement germane to the subject, expressed in elegant or forcible terms; and also, wherever practicable, biographies of men and women are inserted.

Chronological and other tables are supplied where necessary, as well as a very large number of illustrations, many of these being reproductions of woodcuts from earlier works. It is said that the T‛u Shu Chi Ch‛êng was printed from movable copper type cast by the Jesuit Fathers employed by the emperor K‛ang Hsi at Peking; also that only a hundred copies were struck off, the type being then destroyed. An 8vo edition of the whole encyclopaedia was issued at Shanghai in 1889; this is bound up in sixteen hundred and twenty-eight handy volumes of about two hundred pages each. A copy of the original edition stands on the shelves of the British Museum, and a translation of the Index has recently been completed.

Manuscripts and Printing.—At the conclusion of this brief survey of Chinese literature it may well be asked how such an enormous and ever-increasing mass has been handed down from generation to generation. According to the views put forth by early Chinese antiquarians, the first written records were engraved with a special knife upon bamboo slips and wooden tablets. The impracticability of such a process, as applied to books, never seems to have dawned upon those writers; and this snowball of error, started in the 7th century, long after the knife and the tablet had disappeared as implements of writing, continued to gather strength as time went on. Recent researches, however, have placed it beyond doubt that when the Chinese began to write in a literary sense, as opposed to mere scratchings on bones, they traced their characters on slips of bamboo and tablets of wood with a bamboo pencil, frayed at one end to carry the coloured liquid which stood in the place of ink. The knife was used only to erase. So things went on until about 200 B.C., when it would appear that a brush of hair was substituted for the bamboo pencil; after which, silk was called into requisition as an appropriate vehicle in connexion with the more