16 Maxims of Emperor K’ang-Hsi (1892)


16 Maxims of Emperor K’ang-Hsi (1892)


Title: The Sacred Edict: 16 Maxims of Emperor K’ang-Hsi

Author: Emperor Kangxi, FW Baller (trans)

Publisher: American Presbyterian Mission Press, Shanghai, 1892. Very scarce.

Condition: Hardcover, leather spine and marbled boards. Looks to be a later re-binding, rather well done. In very good condition internally and externally for its age. With a printed dedication to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the prelims.

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From the preface:

The Sacred Edict: Containing Sixteen Maxims of the Emperor Kang-Hi, Amplified by His Son, the Emperor Yoong-Ching; Together With a Paraphrase on the Whole, by a Mandarin.

Shortly after arriving in China, the Translator’s attention was directed to the following work, by his most faithful and revered friend, the Reverend Robert Morrison, under whose care some part of the original was first read, and to whose indefatigable attention, and high attainments in Chinese literature, he owes his acquaintance with the radical principles of the language of China. The Sixteen Maxims, which form the ground work of this book, were deliverd, in an edict, by the Emperor Kang-he the second of the present dynasty, in the latter part of his life; the same Emperor by whose authority the Chinese Imperial Dictionary was compiled. These maxims, each of which, in the original, contains seven characters, or words, were neatly written out on small slips of wood, and placed in the public offices, where they are to be seen at the present day.

About the Emperor:

The Kangxi Emperor (4 May 1654 – 20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Shanhai Pass near Beijing, and the second Qing emperor to rule over that part of China, from 1661 to 1722.

The Kangxi Emperor’s reign of 61 years makes him the longest-reigning emperor in Chinese history (although his grandson, the Qianlong Emperor, had the longest period of de facto power) and one of the longest-reigning rulers in the world. However, since he ascended the throne at the age of seven, actual power was held for six years by four regents and his grandmother, the Grand Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang.

The Kangxi Emperor is considered one of China’s greatest emperors. He suppressed the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, forced the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan and assorted Mongol rebels in the North and Northwest to submit to Qing rule, and blocked Tsarist Russia on the Amur River, retaining Outer Manchuria and Outer Northwest China.

The Kangxi Emperor’s reign brought about long-term stability and relative wealth after years of war and chaos. He initiated the period known as the “Prosperous Era of Kangxi and Qianlong” or “High Qing”, which lasted for several generations after his death. His court also accomplished such literary feats as the compilation of the Kangxi Dictionary.


1. Duties of Children and Brothers 29
2. Respect for Kindred 49
8. Concord among Neighbours 64
4. Importance of Husbandry 80
5. The Value of Economy 95
6. Academical Learning 112
7. False Religions exposed 126
8. On the Knowledge of the Laws 156
9. Illustration of the Principles of good Breeding 174
10. Importance of attending to the essential Occupations 196
11. The Instruction of Youth 210
12. The Evil of false Accusing 227
13. The Consequences of hiding Deserters 248
14. The Payment of the Taxes 254
15. The Necessity of extirpating Robbery and Theft 268
16. The Importance of settling Animosities. 284