New text! Three Character Classic

Translation of the intro

Guillaume Lescuyer
9 July, 2020

I obtained a copy of the Three Character Classic of Filial Piety in the Capital, when I took the Imperial examination in 1865. It is a book of few words and deep thoughts; lucid in its principles, detailed in its content.

First, it deals with the birth of a son and how he should be raised and taught until he is three years old. Then, it deals with all sons (from the Son of Heaven downward) exerting themselves to do what is proper. Finally, it deals with how the filial thoughts of past holy sages truly knew no bound. Seen as a whole, it really can be said to be the root of acting lovingly for the ignorant youth and the entry door to virtue.

Upon humble reflexion, it has been fifteen years since I was lucky enough to pass the Provincial translation examination in 1864. Thrice have I been to the Capital to take the Imperial examination; having gone out, twice did I work as a scribe; four times have I taught reading in Banner and public schools. The years have gone by swiftly, I have never had leisure time and I have reached the age of fifty. I haven't done anything at all which would benefit the world. Remembering this, [one might say that] I truly have wasted my existence.

The other day I happened to look at old books, I took this one and read it, each character, word after word, I translated it with care. Because I suspected I was not able to match the content of the book with complete accuracy, I went to Si Sioi Jy and I Siyvn jai, two friends of the same school. Going over it again, correcting and rectifying things, we quickly had completed a book. It was then entrusted to a workman, carved, and put into the hands of young children practicing reading.

Although there is no avoiding this translation being derided by top minds, I think it can be said to be of some help in the teaching of inexperienced young people.

Liyan Ciowan Gingge wrote this foreword on an auspicious day of the fourth month, in the year of the yellow tiger of Badarangga Doro [1878].

Click here to read the text.

(Original in Staatsbilbliotheek zu Berlin here)