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ginated in the western regions; in which system thirty-six characters are constituted mothers.' And it is added, 'In the western regions, the books of the Po-lo-mun can combine all sounds by fourteen letters.' The name even of the person is given who in. troduced the Sanscrit series of thirty-six initial sounds; he is called Shin-kee, a priest of Fo (or Fuh, as Mr. Morrison writes it,) from the country Fan, a part of T'sang or Thibet, and it is said to have been employed to give currency to the books of Fo in China.' Another testimony is produced, which asserts, that the syllabic spelling entered China from the west, and prevailed extensively under the dynasties Tsé and Leang, answering nearly to A. D. 500. Mr. Morrison adds in a note, that about the year 950 of the Christian era, a Po-lo-mun priest was at Pekin, and by the order of the Emperor Këen-tih 300 Sha-mun (or priests of Fo) went to India to procure books, &c. Now it is quite obvious that the word Po-lo-mun is the only way in which a Chinese could write or pronounce Brahman; and Fuh, or Fuh-to, we have no doubt, is their imitation of the sound Budh or Budha, the P, F and B being convertible letters in many languages, and a Chinese being unable to pronounce either B, R, or D ; thus, for bread he would say po-le-té : and if by any possibility Chinese organs could be brought to pronounce any sound having the least resemblance to our monosyllable strength, it could not be done in less compass than a pentasyllable, se-te-len-go-te, and it would require five distinct characters to write it. The word Sha-mun, signifying priests, leaves no doubt as to the country of Fo.
All the Chinese philologists reject, with disdain, the attempt to introduce syllabic spelling, or any thing in the shape of an alphabet, knowing, no doubt, that an alphabet and their system of symbols could not co-exist; from the moment they adopted the one they must inevitably lose the other. A passage from a Chinese author of high reputation is quoted by Mr. Morrison.
It appears to me that the people of Fan distinguish sounds : and with them the stress is laid on the sounds, not on the letters. Chinese distinguish the characters, and lay the stress on the characters, not on the sounds. Hence, in the language of Fan, there is an endless variety of squad; with the Chinese there is an endless variety of the character. In Fan, the principles of sound excite an admiration, but the letters are destitute of beauty. In Chinese, the characters are capable of ever varying intelligible modifications, but the sounds are not possessed of nice and minute distinctions. The people of Fan prefer the sounds, and what they obtain enters by the ear; the Chinese prefer the beautiful character, and what they obtain enters by the eye.
In this part of Doctor Marshman's book, there is a long account of the period of Boodh's birth, his country, peculiar doctrines,' &c. which, it must be confessed, has not much to do with the Clavis Sinica ; nor is this the only redundant part of his work: we suspect, indeed, there is a little spice of vanity lurking in the mind of this good missionary, and that in matters of literature, at least, he is unwilling to hide his candle under a bushel.' But we basten to the third division, termed. Elements of Chinese Grammar.' That the grammar of the most simple and inartificial language that exists on the face of the earth should occupy upwards of 300 quarto pages, will require some explanation, and, in justice to Dr. Marshman, we shall give his own.
It may, perhaps, be urged that a language so simple as the Chinese surely needed not a grammar of above three hundred pages to lay it open; to which it may be replied, that had the object been merely that of affirming things, instead of substantiating them, a far less number of pages would have sufficed; and an abridgment of this work, which will merely state grammatical positions explained at large elsewhere, may perhaps be brought into a fourth of the letter-press included in this work. But when it was necessary to substantiate every position, it seemed desirable that this should be done by examples from the best writings in the language. Further, as in so great a body of examples many historical facts, and allusions to the manners, customs, and peculiar ideas of the Chinese, are necessarily brought before the reader, it appears desirable to introduce them by some brief account of the context, in order to render them intelligible.'
Now, with submission, we think that this introduction to the examples was neither necessary nor desirable, any more than to the examples which illustrate the rules of syntax in the Latin grammar, which are also drawn from the best writings in the language. In short, as the collocation of the monosyllables in a sentence governs the sense of the sentence, and as a mood, tense, number and person are designated by prepositions and other particles, very much afterthe manner of the English language, to which, in fact, the Chinese assimilates nearer than to any other we are acquainted with, a selection of sentences to show the different effects of position, and a table of the quxiliary particles, with ex. amples to illustrate their use, would have constituted a better grammar for the use of students than the · Elements’ of Dr. Marshman, and might have been contained in less than twenty pages.
Whether the Chinese have any notion of the mechanism that may be introduced into any language, by the inflection of the original root or monosyllable, or whether they discovered that any variation in the monosyllable must at once destroy the connexion between it and the character employed to represent it, we pretend not to say; but it is quite certain that no corresponding alteration could be attempted in the characters without a total change of their
original meaning; thus, for instance, jin,is the character
for man; add a horizontal stroke it becomes presents the quality of greatness; another stroke converts it to
ta, and it re#tien, heaven ; substitute a point for the upper line, and it becomes * kieun, a dog. To preserve therefore
, slight as
it is, the connexion between the characters and their names, it was absolutely necessary to preserve the monosyllable, in its original, unchangeable and permanent state, as the least alteration in the character would entirely change its original meaning, and destroy the connexion between it and the monosyllable it before represented.
The English language, as well as the Chinese, affords numerous instances of the same monosyllable being used as a substantive, an adjective, and a verb, without confusion or ambiguity. To take one of Mr. Marshman's examples-We received a severe cut with a sword—he appeared in a cut wig--they cut their way through the enemy? The English language, however, has a change of termination, particularly in the verb, as from love come lovest, loveth, loves, loved, loving, but the word ngai love, or to love, is the same unchangeable monosyllable in number, case and gender; in mood, tense and person : by its position in the sentence, or by its accompanying particles alone, must its sense be determined. The manner in which this is done has been explained in a former Number.
Mr. Morrison's Dictionary of the Chinese Language' may be considered as the most important work in Chinese literature that has yet reached Europe, and we most sincerely wish he may
live to finish it; at present we have received but a small part of it. It is not a mere translation of Kang-hi's T'sze-tëen, though that Dictionary forms the ground-work; 'the arrangement and number of the characters in the first part are according to it, the definitions and examples are chiefly derived from it;' but he has also added examples and explanations from his own knowledge of the use and application of the characters; from the Jesuits' MS. dictionaries; from native scholars '; and from various works in the Chinese language.
The Dictionary of Kang-hi, as it is usually called, is a work of unquestionable authority; it is to the Chinese what Johnson's Dictionary is to us, and there is a remarkable coincidence of plan in the two works. It was compiled by order of the above-mentioned Emperor; twenty-seven persons were employed in composing it, two in revising, and one in superintending the press : and five years were allowed for bringing it out.
The characters are arranged in this dictionary according to the
keys or radicals, which, in fact, is now almost the universal method, Immediately after the modern character is placed the seal-character; then the form of the character as it has been found on ancient vases; and lastly, the running hand character. The first two are curious as frequently pointing out the transition from the picture to the abbreviated symbol. Thus, J ting, a nail or wooden pin, was formerly 9. The character Ķk hew, a mound of earth, a hill, a hollow, or valley, on ancient seals, was engraven thus, M.) and ) kere,
kere, any think hooked, thus S and The character sze, a rhinoceros, on the seals thus, is, on ancient vases, a complete hieroglyphic
Mr. Morrison's Dictionary is both amusing and instructive in another respect. The examples convey allusions to the history, civil and religious institutions, customs, sentiments, peculiar opinions and expressions of this ancient and singular people, as will be explained by two or three extracts from the work itself. Under the ninth radical
jin, a man, we find Sëen
S. C. hr R. H. From "man” and “ bill." An imaginary species of beings; men who, by a total abstraction from the world, have escaped from the body, and are risen higher in the scale of existence than mortal man. They are supposed to inhabit hillş and mountains away from the haunts of men ; to be im. mortal, and to have the power of becoming visible or invisible at pleasure. They are spoken of as profoundly skilled in a kind of alchymy, and as having discovered the philosopher's stone, by which they can change whatever it touches into gold, raise the dead, and produce various
Lao urh puh sze yue Sëen.
wonderful transmutations. T T TIN. 1 .
“Old and not dying is called Söen.'
Sëen, tshëen yay, ts’hëen urh jŭh shun yay.
“Sëen is, to remove ; to
* The perpendicular stroke in all the examples is substituted for the character uns der explanation to avoid repetition.
remove and enter amongst the hills.” Tbey are also called
pa Sëen, "eight Sëen," a reference
to which is common. These eight, two of whom were women, have, somehow or other, risen to a degree of eminence above the rest ; and, being considered always happy, and not liable to death, they are painted on various household utensils, and alluded 10 on birth-days, &c., in hope of participating of their felicity and long life. Some of these eight are not very ancient. One of the females was of the last dynasty; and one of the men is said to have dressed the head of Fuh, and is particularly venerated by the barbers. They are not generally considered as Gods, ņor worshipped, nor have they temples erected to them. Each is reprea sented as holding in the hand an instrument or vessel, which has a reference to some part of his or her story.
isew heo Sëen; “ the Sëen who drink and learn," express a lower class of persons, as poets and others, who aspire to the rank of Sëen.
hea too taou pëen ching Sëen Fuh. " Lay down the butcher's knife and you will become a Sëen, or (like) the God Fuh.” The sect of Fuh considers taking animal life a great crime.
woo Sëen, “ five Sëen.” They are said to be heaven, the gods, earth, and water, and the human soul.
Tae Sëen, a certain bird, said to live a thousand years, a.
Again, under the character
S. C. «
seven ;" *te ts'hih, “ the seventh ; " ts'hih
shing, " the seven ruling powers;" namely, the sun, moon, and five planets. San ts’hih, " a certain medicine." Chuh lin ts’hih, famous persons of the Bamboo plantation. Ts'hih show
keo, seven hands and eight feet,” expresses the confusion caused by too many per: sons being engaged about a thing. Ts'hih sëih, “ the seventh evening, refers to the evening of the seventh day of the seventh moon; an evening on which all the unmarried women in China offer sacrifice to, and
* We will omit the characters for the sake of convenience.