Online Encyclopedia

JAMES LEGGE (1815-1897)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 377 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES LEGGE (1815-1897), British Chinese scholar, was born at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, in 1815, and educated at King's College, Aberdeen. After studying at the Highbury Theological College, London, he went in 1839 as a missionary to the Chinese, but, as China was not yet open to Europeans, he remained at Malacca three years, in charge of the Anglo-Chinese College there. The College was subsequently moved to Hong-Kong, where Legge lived for thirty years. Impressed'with the necessity of missionaries being able to comprehend the ideas and culture of the Chinese, he began in 1841 a translation in many volumes of the Chinese classics, a monumental task admirably executed and completed a few years before his death. In 187o he was made an LL.D. of Aberdeen and in 1884 of Edinburgh University. In 1875 several gentlemen connected with the China trade suggested to the university of Oxford a Chair of Chinese Language and Literature to be occupied by Dr Legge. The university responded liberally, Corpus Christi College contributed the emoluments of a fellowship, and the chair was constituted in 1876. In addition to his other work Legge wrote The Life and Teaching of Confucius (1867); The Life and Teaching of Mencius (1875); The Religions of China (188o); and other books on Chinese literature and religion. He died at Oxford on the 29th of November 1897.
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