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The history of all nations, except the Jews, commences with fabulous and mythological traditions. This is the characteristic of the annals of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, whose sun of power has long since sunk below the horizon, never more to resume its ancient splendour; and, it may
added with peculiar enphasis of China: national vanity, and the love of the marvellous, have induced.the. Chịnese annalists to assign to their country such a high degree of antiquity as exceeds the bounds of belief. Even one of their own commentators, named Choo-foo-tse, remarks“ It is impossible to credit the accounts of these remote ages."
The fabulous part of Chinese history commences with Puon-koo, who is said to have been followed by a number of persons with fanciful names, who reigned for thousands of years. Among these were Fo-hy, to whom the invention of the arts of music, numbers, etc., are ascribed ; Shin-noong, who instructed his people in agriculture ; and Hoang-ty, who divided all the lands into groups of nine equal squares, and invented the mode of noting the cycle of sixty years, which is the foundation of the Chinese system of chronology. In the Chinese annals, Fo-hy, Shinnoong, and Hoang-ty, are denominated the “Three Emperors ;” and they are the reputed inventors of all the arts and accommodations of life.
To the “Three Emperors” succeeded the “Five Sovereigns,” of whom Yaou and Shun were the last and the most celebrated of all Chinese rulers. It was from the reign of Yaou, who is described as living at about the period of the deluge, that the pages of Chinese history begin to assume somewhat of the appearance of probability, although to the age of Confucius, B.c. 550, they are still sullied with fable and uncertainty.
Yaou is represented as a model of perfection, virtue, and wisdom ; his reign as a state of innocence; and the country which he governed as