Page images
PDF
EPUB

shade of doubt thereby thrown over the accuracy of others, and the records of the ancient dynasties rendered suspicious as well as incomplete. Not only were the books sought after to be destroyed, but nearly five hundred literati were buried alive, in order that no one might remain to reproach, in their writings, the first emperor with having committed so barbarous and insane an

[ocr errors]

As to the mode in which the Shu-king was recovered, accounts somewhat differ.. One story is, that about thirty-seven years after the burning, some twenty-eight or twenty-nine chapters were partially restored from the memory of Fuh-Shang, a man then ninety years old. When the Ch'aou Ts'o, or imperial messenger, went to him, Fuh-Shang, being so aged, was unable to speak plainly, and made use of a daughter to repeat what he said; and her dialect being different from Ts'o's, he lost two or three in every ten words, supplying them, as he best could, according to his conception of the meaning. This account, as being more marvelous, has become the accepted history of the manner in which so many books of the Shu were recovered.

Another story relates that, when the orders were issued for the destruction of the books, the old man hid his copy in a wall. During the struggle that

* Williams's Mid. Kingdom, vol. ii. pp. 212, 213.

ensued, he was a fugitive in various parts; but when the rule of the Han was established, he went to look for his treasure, but many of the tablets had perished. He recovered only twenty-nine of the books. Forthwith he commenced teaching, making these the basis of his instructions, and from all parts of Shan-tung scholars resorted to him, and sat at his feet.

In all this time no copy had reached the court. The Emperor Wan (B. C. 178–156), after ineffectual attempts to find some scholar who could reproduce it, heard at last of Fuh-Shang, and sent to call him. Fuh was then more than ninety years old, and could not travel, and an officer called Ch'aou Ts'o was sent to receive from him what he had of the Shu. These books appear to have been transcribed in the new form of character introduced under the Tsin dynasty, as they were designated ever after "the modern text.”.

About forty years later, i. e., seventy-three after the burning, another mutilated copy of the Shu was discovered in the ruined house of Confucius, by one of his descendants. In this copy were found the twenty-nine books already recovered, and some twenty-five or thirty more, making in all fifty-eight of the one hundred of which the work originally consisted.

We come, then, to the conclusion that there is nothing in the literature or antiquities of China which contravenes or is inconsistent with the Mosaic history. Its most venerable classics, even conceding their genuineness in their present form, afford us no reliable chronology prior to the Chan dynasty (B. C. 1121). Their highest historical date, from which the cycle of sixty is reputed to be reckoned, is B. C. 2637, which is more than five hundred "years subsequent to the flood of Noah, according to the Septuagint chronology. Fuh-hi himself lived only B. C. 2852. (Williams.) We have shown, besides, that exactness of dates in that earlier period can not be affirmed, since neither the Chinese calendar nor the cycle of sixty, which are professedly " the elements of Chinese chronology," can be relied on as accurate.

Dr. Legge's conclusion on this subject is as follows: "The accession of Yu, the first sovereign of the nation, was probably at some time in the ninėteenth century before Christ; and previous to him there were the chiefs Shun and Yaou. Twenty centuries before our era, the Chinese nation appears beginning to be. To attempt to carry its early history to a higher antiquity is without any historical justification. There may have been such personages as Chinese writers talk of under the appellations of Chinen-hiuh, Hoang-ti, Shinnung, Fuh-hi, etc., but they can not have been rulers of China. They are children of the mist of tradition, if we should not rather place them in the land of phantasy."

CHAPTER VII.

THE ARGUMENT FROM ETHNOLOGY.

Descent of all known Nations from Noah. — The Tenth Chapter

of Genesis. — Importance of this Statement. — The Posterity of Shem; of Japheth; of Ham. — Agreement of this Account with History. — The so-called Aboriginal Races. — Scripture Language not to be pressed too literally. - Earlier and later Departures from the original Seats of Population. – Opinion of Rawlinson. – Alleged Aborigines of Egypt; of India; of Western Europe.

In the preceding chapters we have shown at length that there is nothing in the known history or antiquities of the most ancient nations that is inconsistent with the Mosaic records. No authentic date goes back so far as the Noachian deluge; no event of which any memorial has been preserved in written annals or monumental inscriptions can be assigned to a period so remote.

We are now prepared to show, on the other hand, that all human history, so far as it speaks on the subject, confirms those sacred records. . It testifies

« PreviousContinue »