|Note: The Sishu jizhu 四書集註 is among the most important commentaries on the Four Books. It has remained in print for more than 700 years, from the Wenzhou lu xue Jiguge 温州路學稽古閣 edition (Yuan Yanyou 元延祐5 ) to the 2002 edition by the Ba Shu shushe 巴蜀书社. The first Western language (Latin) translation of three of the Four Books on Chinese philosophy, the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687) was largely based on this text.|
A portion of the Jesuit archives collection Japonica-Sinica I is comprised of selected Chinese Classics and their commentaries as studied by the late Ming literati. It was through these works that the Jesuits learned the basic principles of Confucianism and the Neo-Confucianism of the Song scholar Zhu Xi. They are included here in order to illustrate the sources and thoughts of the Jesuits in their early, tentative steps in explaining and understanding traditional Chinese social/ethical/political systems, and their presentation to a Western audience.
Sishu jizhu 四書集註.
By Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130–1200).
Six ce. Bamboo paper. 26 x 15 cm.
The printing is fairly good and the book is in good condition. The format seems to be that of the late Ming period. The Latin inscription on the cover of the first ce reads: “Opera omnia Sinensis philosophi Mency, cum notis latinis marginalibus (seemingly, the one who wrote this thought that the book only contains the writings of Mencius).”The title page of the first ce is missing. There are nine columns in each half folio with seventeen characters to each column. The main text is given in single columns, while commentary is given in double columns. Pronunciations of the Chinese characters are given in romanization throughout the book. There are inscriptions in Latin on the following folios:
Ce 1 contains the Daxue 大學 and the Zhongyong 中庸, preceded by Zhu Xi’s preface and a general list of characters used in the Sishu 四書字辨.
Ce 2 contains the Shanglun 上論 or the first five chapters and ce 3 the Xialun 下論 or the last five chapters of Confucius’ Analects.
Ce 4 contains the Shang Meng 上孟 or the first three chapters of the Book of Mencius, ce 5 the Zhong Meng 中孟 or chapter 4–5, and ce 6 the Xia Meng 下孟 or chapter 6–7.
1. Daxue, f. 1v: incipimus 8 maii 1637 ad M.D.G. [ad majorem Dei gloriam].
2. Zhongyong, f. 1v: In nomine Dni huius libri explicationem agressi sumus die 29 8bris [Octobris] 12a 9 lunae (29 October 1637 was the twelfth day of the ninth month of Chongzhen 10).
3. Analects, juan 2, f. 2v: 4 Junii incipimus hoc 2 caput.
4. Analects, juan 5, at the end of the last folio: Laus Deo, BV, Sstis. Igo et Xao [Beata Virgine, Sanctissimis Ignatio et Xaverio] meisque omnibus patronis et advocatis ac precipuae D. Thome Aquinati. Absolvi hunc librum die 13 Julii 1637.
5. Analects, juan 6, f. 1v: Huius libri explicationem aggressi sumus die 24 7bris [Septembris] 1637 post interstitum a die 6 [Augusti?] usque ad dictum diem 24 septembris.
6. Analects, juan 10, f. 9v: Laus Deo Beataq. Virg. Maria finem posuimus 28 8bris [Octobris] 1637.
7. Shang Meng [first section of the Book of Mencius], f. 1: Ad M.D.G. Incipimus 28 8bris [Octobris] 1637.
8. Shang Meng, juan 3, at the end of the last folio: die 4 Xbris [Decembris] 1637 finem imposuimus ad M.D.G.
9. Zhong Meng, juan 4, f. 1v: Incipimus deo bene adiuvante 4 Xbris [Decembris] 1637.
10. Xia Meng, juan, f. 1v: Post unius mensis interventum, ob occupatione principimus 11 Januarii 1638.
In several parts of the book pronunciations are given according to the Portuguese romanization and the meaning of each character is also in Portuguese. The explanations, however, are given in Latin.
This book seems to have been in the possession of Francesco Brancati (1607–1671), whose Chinese name was Pan Guoguang 潘國光 (hao 用觀). There are three seals with the name of Brancati stamped on different ce. On f. 12v of juan 10 of the Analects there is a seal in red ink with the characters潘國光印. On f. 23r of the Zhongyong there are two seals: the upper one, with seal characters in incised inscriptions, reads: 潘國光印, and the lower one, with seal characters cut in relief, reads: 用觀氏.
Brancati arrived in China in 1637. He first studied Chinese in Hangzhou 杭州 and left for Shanghai in the same year (JWC 2:55). Colombel gives the reason for his leaving for Shanghai: “le petit nombre des ouvriers ne permettait pas de longues études: il fut envoyé à Chang-Hai” (1:337). Pfister, however, makes no mention of Brancati’s study in Hangzhou.
If our guess about the ownership of this book is correct, Brancati must have spent nearly one year in Hangzhou, i.e., from before 5 May 1637 to after 11 January 1638. In Hangzhou there was a language school where a number of the missioners had spent some time learning the Chinese language. Among those who studied Chinese in Hangzhou there were two others, namely Girolamo de Gravina (Jia Yimu 價宜睦, zi 九章, 1603–1662) and Antonio de Gouvea (He Dahua 何大化, zi 德川, 1592–1677), cf. Pfister, pp. 221 and 243. Would this explain the use of the plural in the verbs used in the Latin inscriptions written on different ce of the book (incipimus, aggresi sumus) and for the Portuguese written on different parts of the book?
Cf. Sapientia Sinica (Jap-Sin III, 3a), f. 2r “Ad lectorem,” last paragraph: “Notae appositae in margine sunt: f. p. § prima denotat folium textus iuxta ordine impressionis nan kim editae Authore chu hi, qui liber vulgo dicitur su xu çie chu.” This translation of the Daxue by Guo Najue 郭納爵 (Ignacio da Costa) and Yin Duoze 殷鐸澤 (Prospero Intorcetta) was revised by Nie Baiduo 聶伯多 (Pietro Canevari), He Dahua (Antonio de Gouvea), Pan Guoguang (Francesco Brancati), Bai Yingli 柏應理 (Philippe Couplet) and Lu Riman 魯日滿 (François de Rougemont). In folio 2r of the Zhongyong (Jap-Sin I, 10) there was an envelope which was addressed to Intorcetta: “Ao Pe Prospero [I]ntroxeta da Com. de Jesu.” It is very likely that da Costa and Intorcetta made their translation from this edition of the Sishu jizhu, which according to the “Ad lectorem” in Jap-Sin III, 3a was published in Nanjing.
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 9-11.