Section Ii

THE ANCIENT PRONUNCIATION OF THE CHARACTERS, AND THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE RHYMES IN THE SHE.

1. After all that has been said in the preceding section on the rhymes of the She, the student is soon struck by what he cannot at first but regard as the imperfection of many of them. It is evident from the structure of an ode that Such and such lines were intended

The actual difficulty with the rhyme.)to rhyme; but he can in no way make in attempting to read the she. f them do so. Whatever the dialect to which he may have given his special attention, he sees that either thé characters were pronounced and toned under the Chow dynasty vfery differently from the manner in which he has learned to enunciate them, or that the writers of the odes were astonishingly indifferent to the correctness of their rhymes, and content often with a remote approximation to similarity of sound in them. If he have recourse to the aid of the rhyming dictionaries which are current throughout the empire, and which, though representing an older pronunciation than that of the present day, must yet be followed by all poets and poetasters,*"8 difficulty is brought before him with increased de-finiteness. There is hardly a single ode which will stand the test of an examination by the rhyme-and-tone classes in those dictionaries. We are come to a subject encompassed with perplexity; but much has been done by native scholars to unfold its complications, and to enable us to understand how thé Chinese spoke and rhymed in the remote age of the Chow dynasty. I will endeavour to give a brief and clear view of the result of their researches in a iew paragraphs, following the method of my own mind in its endeavours to grasp the subject, and giving in notes the fuller information which will help others to comprehend the processes and acquiesce in the conclusions.

2. In Choo He's edition of the She, we have a multitude of notes to assist us in reading the text, and making out the rhymes. It is always said that such and such a character rhymes with such and The «j'Jtein of rliyniing the) such another; that is, it is to be rend different» She by poetical license. f ly from its ordinary pronunciation that it may give the necessary rhyme; and all these h'eeh yun, as they are called, are reproduced in the K'ang-he dictionary.1 This method of rhyming the odes was first reduced to a system by Woo Yih, or Woo Ts'ae-laou,3 a scholar of the Sung dynasty, a little earlier than Choo He. He published a Work, which I have not seen, under the name of Yun-poo, which we may translate 'The Rhyme-mender.' Mr. Wylie observes upon it, that 'it is chiefly valued as being the earliest attempt to investigate the theory of the ancient sounds, but it is said to be a very faulty production.'8 Whatever conclusions Woo came to as to the. ancient sounds, he appears to have determined that, in reading the She, the standard pronunciation of his own day was to be adopted, and that, wherever words, evidently intended to rhyme, yet did not rhyme according to that standard, then the pronunciation of one or more of them should be changed, and a rhyme effected by h'eeh yun, or poetical license. Unreasonable as this method was, and impracticable in any alphabetic language, practicable only in the ideographic Chinese, it found multitudes of admirers and followers. Even Choo He, we have Seen, adopted it; and Seu Ch'en of the same dynasty has given it as his opinion, that' it was not till the Rhyme-mender was published that the pieces in the Book of Poetry could be regarded as poems.'*

But the discrepancy between the rhymes of the She and those which had subsequently come to prevail was patent to scholars long before the Sung dynasty. Ch'ing Heuen himself wrote a treatise on the subject;6 and, all through the time of the Three kingdoms, the Tsin, and other dynasties, on to the T'ang, various writers gave

1 |jj" Morrison define* the phrase m—'two ■jrllable* that rhyme;' Medhurst m—

■rhyme;' ami Williams as—'to rhyme; harmonious cadence or tone.' But all these account* of it (ail to indicate its most important and frequent significance, that the rhyme is one of an assumed poetical license, where one of the characters has a pronunciation assigned to it which it does not in Other circumstances have. 3 ^ fffc, or ^ ' 8 ^ ^^;—see Oeiicmi Note*

on Chinese Lit.rature, p. 9. * f? j& W f$ H' g Z

i&nnn-

their views upon it. The conclusion in which they rested seems to have been that enunciated by Luh Tih-ming, that 'the ancient rhymes were pliant and flexible, and there was no occasion to make any change in them to suit modern pronunciations.'6

The question has received the most thorough sifting during the present dynasty; and Koo Yen-woo, KSang Yung, and Twan Yuh-tsae, all mentioned in the preceding section, endeavouring, one after another, to exhaust the field, have left little to be gleaned, it seems to me, by future labourers. To prepare the reader to appreciate the results at which they have arrived, it will be well to set forth, first, the rhyme-system current at the present day, as given in the Thesaurus of the K'ang-he period, and next, the more extended system given in the Kwang yun dictionary, and which represents the rhymes as they were classified in the T'ang and Suy dynasties.

3. In the E'ang-he Thesaurus the rhymes are represented by The rhyme-system cur-> 106 characters, no regard being had to the rent at the present day. f initial consonants of those characters. There are 15 in the upper first tone, as many in the lower first, 29 in the second or ascending tone, 30 in the third or departing tone, and 17 in the 4th, called the entering or retracted tone. Taking the first or even tone as the measure of the endings, this system gives us only 30; and, if we add to them those of the 4th tone, which we must spell differently in English, we obtain 47. But some of those endings, as, lor instance the first two, cannot be, and never could have been, represented by any but the same letters in English,—which would reduce their number; while others, as the sixth and seventh, comprehend characters that, as they come upon the ear in conversation and recitation, cannot be representedbythesameletters,—which would increase their number.7 Altogether, Medhurst makes out» upon of the lower first tone, % |f, jj|, % H> f|.

of the second tone, fg, jgft M> ft «' fib ll' #' W' We

of the second tone, fg, jgft M> ft «' fib ll' #' W' We

of the fourth tone, g, ft, ft, $J, Jf, ft.M> ft I®' «&' ft. & &

this system, 55 finals, or rhyming terminations; and as he makes the initials or consonantal beginnings in the language to amount to 20 and a mute,—say 21, we have 21 x55=l,155, as a near approximation to the number of possible sounds or enunciations in Chinese, a little more than one fortieth of the number of characters of which the language is made up. But the actual number is much smaller. Edkins gives the number of syllables, or distinct sounds in the Mandarin dialect, as 522, adding that in the syllabic dictionary of Morrison there are only 411. He says that if we were to accept the fiual m, and certain soft initials, which were still in existence under the Mongolian dynasty (a.d. 1,280—1,367), there would be at least 700 syllables.8 Williams states that the possible sounds in the Canton dialect which could be represented by Roman letters would be 1,229, while the actual number of syllables is only 707.9 It is always to be borne in mind that the rhyming endings, according to the present rules of Chinese poetry, are much fewer than the terminations diversified by the tones.

4. Ascending along the line of centuries from the era of K'atlg-he to the time of which the pronunciation is given in the Ktoang-yun dictionary, a period of tienrly a thousand years, we find thé rhym-

The Ayme-.y.te«ler,(lii,S9 represented by nearly twice as many of «leT'aogdynaity.; characters as in the Thesaurus, or by 206 in all. There are 28 in the upper first tone and 29 in the lower, 55 in the second tone, 60 in the third, and 34 in the fourth.10 To the western

Combining the«« into groups, according to tlie tone«, we obtain:—

mm®. mm-m* .«Hth* m-m>m> n^nn- %>mmn>

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