Ancient China Simplified

Overview

From the preface:

"The Chinese Annals are mere diaries of events, isolated facts being tumbled together in order of date, without any regard for proportion. Epoch-making invasions, defeats, and cessions of territory are laconically noted down on a level with the prince's indiscretion in weeping for a concubine as he would weep for a wife; or the Emperor's bounty in sending a dish of sacrificial meat to a vassal power by express messenger. In one way there is a distinct advantage in this method, for, the historian...

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Ancient China simplified

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Overview

From the preface:

"The Chinese Annals are mere diaries of events, isolated facts being tumbled together in order of date, without any regard for proportion. Epoch-making invasions, defeats, and cessions of territory are laconically noted down on a level with the prince's indiscretion in weeping for a concubine as he would weep for a wife; or the Emperor's bounty in sending a dish of sacrificial meat to a vassal power by express messenger. In one way there is a distinct advantage in this method, for, the historian being seldom tempted to obtrude his own opinion or comments, we are left a clear course for the formation of our own judgments upon the facts given. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that what may be called the philosophy of history has never been seized by the Chinese mind: the annalists do not trouble themselves with the rights and aspirations of the masses; the results to general policy that naturally follow upon increase of population, perfecting of arms and munitions of war, admixture of foreign blood with the body politic, and such like matters. The heads of events being noted, it seems to be left to the reader to fill in the details from his imagination, and from his knowledge of contemporary affairs. For instance, suppose the reign of Queen Victoria were to begin after this fashion:-"1837, 5th moon, Kalends, Victoria succeeded: 9th moon, Ides, Napoleon paid a visit: 28th day, London flooded; 10th moon, 29th day, eclipse of the sun"; and so on. At the time, and for many years-possibly centuries-afterwards, there would be accurate general traditional, or even written, information as to who Victoria was; why Napoleon paid a visit; in what particular way the flood affected England generally; from what parts the eclipse was best visible, etc. These details would fade in distinctness with each successive generation; commentators would come to the rescue; then commentators upon commentators; and discussions as to which man was the most trustworthy of them all.
Under these circumstances it is difficult enough for the Chinese themselves to construct a series of historical lessons, adequate to guide them in the conduct of modern affairs, out of so heterogeneous a mass of material. This difficulty is, in the case of Westerners, more than doubled by the strange, and to us inharmonious, sounds of Chinese proper names: moreover, as they are monosyllabical, and many of them exactly similar when expressed in our letters, it is almost impossible to remember them, and to distinguish one from the other. Thus most persons who make an honest endeavour by means of translations to master the leading events in ancient Chinese history soon throw down the book in despair; while even specialists, who may wish to shorten their labours by availing themselves of others' work, can only get a firm grip of translations by comparing them with the originals: it is thus really impossible to acquire anything at all approaching an accurate understanding of Chinese antiquity without possessing in some degree the controlling power of a knowledge of the pictographs."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781176377219
  • Publisher: Nabu Press
  • Publication date: 7/29/2010
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER IV THE SOUTHERN POWER BUT the collapse of the imperial power in 771 B.C. led to restlessness in the south as well as in the north, north-western, and north-eastern regions: except for a few Chinese adventurers and colonists, these were exclusively inhabited by nomad Tartars, and perhaps some Tibetans, destitute of fixed residences, cities, and towns; ignorant of cultivation, agriculture, and letters ; and roving about from pasture to pasture with their flocks and herds, finding excitement and diversion chiefly in periodical raids upon their more settled southern and western neighbours. The only country south of the federated Chinese princes in Ho Nan province (as we now call it) was the " Jungle " or " Thicket," a term which vaguely designated the lower waters of the Han River system, much as, with ourselves, the " Lowlands " or the " Netherlands" did, and still does, designate the outlying marches of the English and German communities. " Jungle" is still the elegant literary name for Hu P£h, just as Ts'in, Tsin, and Ts'i are for Shen Si, Shan Si, and Shan Tung. The King of the Jungle, like the Warden of the Western Marches, traced his descent far back to the same ancient monarchs whose blood ran also in the veins of the imperial house of Chou; and moreover this Jungle King's ancestors had served the founders of the Chou dynasty in 1150 B.C., whilst they were still hesitating whether to accept the call to empire: hence in later times (530 B.C.) the King made it a grievance that his family had not received from the founder of the Chou dynasty presents symbolical of equality of birth, as had the Tsin and Lu. (South Shan Tung) houses. If any tribes, south,south-east, or south-west of this vague Jungle, whose administrative centre at first lay within a hundred miles...
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