James Legge 1815-1897

James Legge
James Legge

James Legge was born In Scotland on Dec. 20, 1815 and died November 29, 1897. He was both a sinologist and a Congregationalist. He represented the London Missionary Society in Malacca and Hong Kong. He was the first professor of Chinese at Oxford University from 1876 to 1897. Working with Max Muller, he prepared the fifty volume Sacred Books of the East series between 1879 and 1891.
He went to China as a missionary in 1839 where he became headmaster at Ying Wa College for three years in Malacca and then in Hong Kong where he lived for thirty years. He also translated many of the Chinese classics such as the I Ching, Confucius’ Doctrine of the Mean, Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, Shih Ching, the Book of Rites as well as text of Taoism such as the Tao Te Ching.
His I Ching translation was true to the original versions. He kept the wings (additions to the I Ching) as they were. It was a truly scholastic translation, very informative, extensively footnoted, but a little dry and difficult to use for divination when compared to the work of Richard Wilhelm. None-the-less he was a trail blazer and accomplished what no one else had done before.
He translated and worked in great detail on Confucian works. In these works the ideas of the Superior Man and Filial Piety are extensively presented. These works became integrated into the I Ching as primary themes.
Now that most of his works have passed their copyright limit, they are available on line for free through www.gutenberg.com