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IN submitting to the public so large a work as this, with the view of its being merely a Key to a Language, the author begs leave to mention, by way of apology, certain circumstances relative to the work itself, and to the occasion which has led to its appearing in this extended form.

On completing the first volume of Confucius, early in 1809, it seemed desirable that it should be accompanied by some account of the language, which was accordingly given in a Preliminary Dissertation, of about a hundred pages. The research to which the writing of this dissertation led the author, drew his attention to the formation and structure of the language in a peculiar manner, and induced him afterward to examine with close attention, both the language itself, and every thing written on the subject which fell in his way. The liberality with which the Chinese work was encouraged, rendering it necessary to print a second edition of the first volume and the Dissertation before the second appeared, the author, on examining the materials he had been collecting since the first edition was published, found it impossible to compress them within the limits of a preliminary dissertation, without suppressing the greater part of them; upon which he determined on submitting the whole to the candor of the public in a separate work, resembling the Preliminary Dissertation indeed in its arrangement, but containing more than five times its original quantity of matter.

Before an account be given of the work itself, however, the author anticipates a very na. tural query, namely, on what ground be, who, though a resident in India, is at the distance of at least two hundred leagues from China, can be supposed to possess those advantages which may authorize bis attempting to unfold the nature of the Chinese language. To this query, a simple recital of the train of circumstances which led him to engage in the study, though trifling in themselves, may possibly form an answer.

On the author's arrival in India in the year 1790, ideas which the perusal of accounts relative to the Chinese empire, history, &c. had excited in bis mind even in his earliest youth,


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recurred anew; and be found it impossible, when so near China, to divest himself wholly of the wish to become fully acquainted with both its history, and its language. The study of Bengalee and Sungskrit, however, seemed a paramount duty, and it'was not till more than three years after his arrival, that he found himself at liberty to gratily his wishes relative to Chinese; when his brethren, on reviewing the various languages into which it appeared possible to attempt translating the Scriptures, advised him to devote himself with that view to the Chinese language. Finding the way thus open for him to indulge those wishes so long felt, he made every inquiry in his power respecting the nature of the language, and the most effectual means of acquiring it. Ile was however able to do little more than ascertain more clearly the object ii: view, till Mr. Lassar's arrival in Calcutta in the year 1805, when the Rev. Dr. Buchanan proposed to the author to enter on a course of study under him, with a view to the translation of the Scriptures. On his acceding, Dr. Buchanan persuaded Mr. Lassar to remove to Serampore, where he generously supported him the first year at his own expense.

As Mr. L. brought with him the best authors in ilie language, and two natives of China, the author found his wishes relative to Chinese, as he then thought, gratified to the utmost. Here, however, difficulties were to be surmounted: he had no dictionary or vocabulary of that language either in English or Latin ; and Mr. L. knew little more of English than he himself knew of Chinese : the labour therefore of beginuing to study Chinese in Chinese, without - being assisted by a single sentence from a Chinese author translated into any language, was such as sometimes nearly staggered his resolution. With these means however, he was at length enabled to bring the first volume of Confucius through the press; three months after which he, for the first time, saw a Latin Chinese dictionary. This circumstance, which he owed to the politeness of the Catholic Missionary, P. Rodrigues, who, after spending twenty years in China, (and ten of them at Peking, as he informed the author,) was then proceeding to the Brazils, formed to him quite a new æra in the study of Chinese. It cleared up numerous obscurities in the language, and removed a mutitude of doubts which unavoidably harrassed him in groping his way in an unknown path with so little light. The assistance he thus obtained convinced him, that had he been furnished from the beginning with due helps, he should have made a greater progress in the language with far less labour. Still however he felt that the absence of them was not without its advantages. It had compelled bim to form his own judgment of

the nature of the language: had he been favored from the beginning with the helps furnished by the labours of the Catholic missiovaries, he should probably have been led to acquiesce implicitly in their ideas, and to tread precisely in their track; but having previously acquired some idea of the language, he was now enabled to appreciate what they had done, and to avail bimself fully of their labours, while he still examined things for himself. As the Missionary, P. Rodrigues resided eight months in Calcutta, this enabled him to avail himself of his po. liteness to the full extent of his wishes relative to various points both in the grammar, and the pronunciation of the language; which be gratefully takes this opportunity of acknowledging.

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Early in 1810, arrived at Calcutta from China, where he had resided for several years with the view of studying the language, Thomas Manning, Esq. who to an exquisite relish for the beauties of the Roman and Greek classics, adds a most respectable knowledge of Chinese. To the conversation and the frequent discussivns be had with this gentleman, on the nature of Chinese, during his stay in Calcutta, a period of six months, he feels himself indebted for many ideas respecting the language, particularly its Tones, which, but for these discussions, had perhaps for ever escaped his research. With Mr. Manning's Chinese teacher, who had studied at Peking, he also had an opportunity of examining anew the monosyllables of the language with a view to the Peking pronunciation,

Such then was the way in which the author was led to engage in Chinese, and such, with the study of their best works, and daily conversation with his Chinese assistants, the means by which he has been enabled to collect and digest those ideas respecting the nature, origin, and peculiarities of the language, which he now submits to the judgment of the public.

The chief object of the following work is to illustrate the Grammar and Construction of the Chinese language ; but in a language which differs so entirely from all others, it seemed impossible to do justice to either its Written or Colloquial medium, within the space gene. rally allotted in other grammars to the letters and their various powers. To the author they seemed to deserve a separate essay: the grammatical part of the work is therefore preceded by a Preliminary Essay on the Characters and Colloquial medium of the Chinese.

In the First Part of the PRELIMINARY ESSAY, which is devoted to the Characters, an attempt is made to ascertain their Origin. Respecting this the documents are scanty; but the probability is, that they must have been invented at an early period. In the six lines ascribed to the emperor Yu,* so many cliaracters occur with the same sound, that had not the stanza been delivered in the written character, it is scarcely probable that it would have been preserved. The author has then endeavoured, he trusts with some degree of success, to trace the Formation of the characters, from the simplest of them to those most complicated in their form. It is pretty evident, that from certain delinations of the chief objects of nature, sufliciently rude, it is true, but still such as a strong fancy might associate with the object, sprang the two hundred and fourteen Elements. Certain expressions of ideas once fixed upon, these formed a basis on which to erect a superstructure. Some of them were soon applied figuratively; in other cases certain additions placed abore, below, or within, the original character, were supposed capable of representing other ideas. At length two significant characters were combined with the view of representing by the union of thie two, a third, which, in the opinion of the writer, partook in some degree of the qualities of both. This once attempted, an almost boundless field presented itself to the view; each of these compound characters, became iv its turn a primitive or root, to which an element, the head, the hand, the foot; fire, water, earth, stone, air, &c. being added, another idea was presented to the mind. If to a thousand of these primitives, only a hundred of the elements had been added, the result would have been a liundred thousand characters, produced by the combination of only three elements; but in perusing this essay, the reader will find, that these triple compounds are still in many instances the primitive or root of a new character : in some cases this is extended to five, and in a few even to six ele. ments united in one character, which however, still expresses only one idea. Thus then the reader will find, that from two hundred and fourteen Elements, proceed about one thousand six hundred Primitives; wbich producing each from three to seventy four Derivatives, constitute the great mass of the Chinese written language.

Had priority of existence been regarded, the latter part of the Essay, which treats of the Colloquial medium, would have preceded that on the Characters; as the Chinese, like other na

See page 517.

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