"Virtue which is not supported with gravity gains no repute among men": Rare Early edition of The Morals of Confucius; A Cornerstone of Chinese Philosophy
The Morals of Confucius, A Chinese Philosopher.
Item Number: 96224
London: Randall Taylor, 1691 [i.e., 1780].
First edition in English of The Morals of Confucius, in full: The Moral of Confucius, A Chinese Philosopher Who flourished above five Hundred Years before the coming of Christ. Being one of the choicest Pieces of Learning remaining of the Nation. Small octavo, bound in full contemporary sheep with gilt titles to the spine, folding engraved frontispiece of Confucius, Consisting of three parts: Of the Antiquity and Philosophy of the Chineses; A Collection out of Confucius’s Works in Three Books; and Eighty Maxims. In very good condition, faint stamp to the title page.
"[B]asically a translation of Le Morale de Confucius, philosophe de la Chine" (Savouret, 1688), The Morals of Confucius was "translated and abridged from the Latin translation of Prospero Intorcetta, Philippe Couplet, and others, or from an intervening French translation attributed to Louis Cousin or Jean de La Brune" (ESTC, T140229). Chinese philosopher Confucius’s principles had a commonality with earlier Chinese tradition with an emphasis on personal and governmental morality, ancestral veneration, respect for one’s elders, and strong family loyalty. His teachings left a legacy of disciples and gained widespread prominence under the Han and Tang Dynasties, became the official imperial philosophy of China after his death in 479 B.C.E., and remained the dominant philosophy in China until the early 20th century. Likely compiled and composed by his disciples after Confucius's death, the Analects, or Maxims, grew to be one of the central texts of Confucianism by the end of the Han Dynasty.