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The minister of Instruction defined and set forth the six ceremonial observances 1:--to direct and control the nature of the people; clearly illustrated the seven lessons (of morality) 2 to stimulate their virtue; inculcated uniformity in the eight objects of government 3, to guard against all excess; taught the sameness of the course (of duty) and virtue, to assimilate manners; nourished the aged, to secure the completion of filial piety; showed pity to orphans and solitaries, to reach those who had been bereaved; exalted men of talents and worth, to give honour to virtue; and dealt summarily with the unworthy, to discountenance wickedness.

He commanded that, throughout the districts 4, there should be marked and pointed out to him those who were disobedient to his lessons. (This having been done), the aged men were all assembled in the school 5, and on a good day archery was practised and places were given according to merit. (At the same time) there was a feast, when places were given according to age. The Grand minister of Instruction 6 conducted thither the eminent scholars of the state and along with them superintended the business. If those (who had been reported to him) did not (now) change, he gave orders that they who were noted as continuing disobedient in the districts on the left should be removed to those on the right, and those noted on the right to the districts on the left. Then another examination was held in the same way, and those who had not changed were removed to the nearest outlying territory. Still continuing unchanged, they were removed, after a similar trial, to the more distant territory. There they were again examined and tried, and if still found defective, they were cast out to a remote region, and for all their lives excluded from distinction.

Orders were given that, throughout the districts, the youths who were decided on as of promising ability should have their names passed up to the minister of Instruction, when they were called 'select scholars.' He then decided which of them gave still greater promise, and promoted them to the (great) college 7, where they were called 'eminent scholars 8.' Those who were brought to the notice of the minister were exempted from services in the districts; and those who were promoted to the (great) school, from all services under his own department, and (by and by) were called 'complete scholars 9.'

The (board for) the direction of Music gave all honour to its four subjects of instruction 10, and arranged the lessons in them, following closely the poems, histories, ceremonies, and music of the former kings, in order to complete its scholars. The spring and autumn were devoted to teaching the ceremonies and music; the winter and summer to the poems and histories 11. The eldest son of the king and his other sons, the eldest sons of all the feudal princes, the sons, by their wives proper, of the high ministers, Great officers, and officers of the highest grade, and the eminent and select scholars from (all) the states, all repaired (to their instruction), entering the schools according to their years.

When the time drew near for their quitting the college, the smaller and greater assistants 12, and the inferior director of the board, put down those who had not attended to their instructions, and reported them to the Grand director, who in turn reported them to the king. The king ordered the three ducal ministers, his nine (other) ministers, the Great officers, and the (other) officers, all to enter the school (and hold an examination). If this did not produce the necessary change; the king in person inspected the school; and if this also failed, for three days he took no full meal nor had music, after which the (culprits) were cast out to the remote regions. Sending them to those of the west was called 'a (temporary) expulsion;' to the east, 'a temporary exile.' But all their lives they were excluded from distinction.

The Grand director of Music, having fully considered who were the most promising of the 'completed scholars,' reported them to the king, after which they were advanced to be under the minister of War, and called 'scholars ready for employment 13.'

The minister of War gave discriminating consideration (to the scholars thus submitted to him), with a view to determine the offices for which their abilities fitted them. He then reported his decisions concerning the best and ablest of them to the king, to have that judgment fixed 14. When it was, they were put into offices. After they had discharged the duties of these, rank was given them; and, their positions being thus fixed, they received salary.

When a Great officer was dismissed as incompetent from his duties, he was not (again) employed in any office to the end of his life. At his death, he was buried as an (ordinary) officer.

If any expedition of war were contemplated, orders were given to the Grand minister of Instruction to teach the scholars the management of the chariot and the wearing of the coat of mail.

In the case of all who professed any particular art, respect was had to their strength. If they were to go to a distant quarter, they had to display their arms and legs, and their skill in archery and charioteering was tested. All who professed particular arts for the service of their superiors, such as prayermakers, writers, archers, carriage-drivers, doctors, diviners, and artizans,--all who professed particular arts for the service of their superiors, were not allowed to practise any other thing, or to change their offices; and when they left their districts, they did not take rank with officers. Those who did service in families (also), when they left their districts, did not take rank with officers.

The minister of Crime adapted the punishments (to the offences for which they were inflicted), and made the laws clear in order to deal with criminal charges and litigations. He required the three references as to its justice (before the infliction of a capital punishment) 15. If a party had the intention, but there were not evidence of the deed, the charge was not listened to. Where a case appeared as doubtful, it was lightly dealt with; where it might be pardoned, it was (still) gravely considered.

In all determining on the application of any of the five punishments 16, it was required to decide according to the judgment of Heaven. Inadvertent and redeemable offences were determined by (the circumstances of) each particular case 17.

When hearing a case requiring the application of any of the five punishments, (the judge) was required to have respect to the affection between father and son 18, or the righteousness between ruler and minister 19 (which might have been in the mind of the defendant), to balance his own judgment. He must consider the gravity or lightness (of the offence), and carefully try to fathom the capacity (of the offender) as shallow or deep, to determine the exact character (of his guilt). He must exert his intelligence to the utmost, and give the fullest play to his generous and loving feeling, to arrive at his final judgment. If the criminal charge appeared to him doubtful, he was to take the multitude into consultation with him; and if they also doubted, he was to pardon the defendant. At the same time he was to examine analogous cases, great and small, and then give his decision.

The evidence in a criminal case having thus been all taken and judgment given, the clerk reported it all to the director (of the district), who heard it and reported it to the Grand minister of Crime. He also heard it in the outer court 20, and then reported it to the king, who ordered the three ducal ministers, with the minister and director, again to hear it. When they had (once more) reported it to the king, he considered it with the three mitigating conditions 21, and then only determined the punishment.

In all inflictions of punishments and fines, even light offenders (that were not doubtful) were not forgiven. Punishment may be compared to the body. The body is a complete thing; when once completed, there cannot be any subsequent change in it 22. Hence the wise man will do his utmost (in deciding on all these inflictions).

Splitting words so as to break (the force of) the laws; confounding names so as to change what had been definitely settled; practising corrupt ways so as to throw government into confusion: all guilty of these things were put to death. Using licentious music; strange garments; wonderful contrivances and extraordinary implements, thus raising doubts among the multitudes: all who used or formed such things were put to death. Those who were persistent in hypocritical conduct and disputatious in hypocritical speeches; who studied what was wrong, and went on to do so more and more, and whoever increasingly followed what was wrong so as to bewilder the multitudes: these were put to death. Those who gave false reports about (appearances of) spirits, about seasons and days, about consultings of the tortoise-shell and stalks, so as to perplex the multitudes: these were put to death. These four classes were taken off, and no defence listened to.

All who had charge of the prohibitions for the regulation of the multitudes 23 did not forgive transgressions of them. Those who had rank-tokens, the long or the round, and gilt libation-cups were not allowed to sell them in the market-places; nor were any allowed to sell robes or chariots, the gift of the king; or vessels of an ancestral temple; or victims for sacrifice; or instruments of war; or vessels which were not according to the prescribed measurements; or chariots of war which were not according to the same; or cloth or silk, fine or coarse, not according to the prescribed quality, or broader or narrower than the proper rule; or of the illegitimate colours, confusing those that were correct 24; or cloth, embroidered or figured; or vessels made with pearls or jade; or clothes, or food, or drink, (in any way extravagant); or grain which was not in season, or fruit which was unripe; or wood which was not fit for the axe; or birds, beasts, fishes, or reptiles, which were not fit to be killed. At the frontier gates, those in charge of the prohibitions, examined travellers, forbidding such as wore strange clothes, and taking note of such as spoke a strange language.

The Grand recorder had the superintendence of ceremonies. He was in charge of the tablets of record, and brought before the king what (names) were to be avoided', and what days were unfavourable (for the doing of particular affairs)' 25. The son of Heaven received his admonitions with reverence 26.

(The office of) the accountants 27 prepared the complete accounts of the year to be submitted to the son of Heaven which were reverently received by the chief minister. The Grand director of Music, the Grand minister of Crime, and the (chief) superintendent of the markets, these three officers, followed with the completed accounts of their departments to be submitted to the son of Heaven. The Grand minister of Instruction, the Grand minister of War, and the Grand minister of Works, reverently received the completed accounts of their several departments from their various subordinates, and examined them, then presenting them to the son of Heaven. Those subordinates then reverently received them after being so examined and adjudicated on. This being done, the aged were feasted and the royal sympathy shown to the husbandmen. The business of the year was concluded, and the expenditure of the states was determined.


1. See the last paragraph of these Regulations, at the end of next Section.

2. It has become the rule, apparently with all sinologists, to call the minister in the text here, Sze Thû, by the name of 'The minister of Instruction.' Callery describes him as 'Le ministre qui a dans ses attributions l'instruction publique et les rites.' And this is correct according to the account of his functions here, in the Kâu Lî, and in the Shû (V, xx, 8); but the characters (司徒) simply denote 'superintendent of the multitudes.' This, then, was the conception anciently of what government had to do for the multitudes,--to teach them all moral and social duties, how to discharge their obligations to men living and dead, and to spiritual beings. The name is now applied to the president and vice-president of the board of Revenue.

3. See the last paragraph of these Regulations, at the end of next Section.

4. That is, the six districts embraced in the royal domain, each nominally containing 12,500 families.

5. The great school of the district. The aged men would be good officers retired from duty, and others of known worth.

6. Here we have 'the Grand minister of Instruction;' and it may be thought we should translate the name in the first paragraph in the plural. No doubt, where there is no specification of 'the grand,' it means the board or department of Education.

7. This would be the college at the capital.

8. Have we not in these the prototypes of the 'Flowering Talents'(Hsiû Zhai 秀才) and 'Promoted Men' (Kü Zan 舉人) of to-day?

9. Have we not in these the prototypes of the 'Flowering Talents' (Hsiû Zhai 秀才) and 'Promoted Men' (Kü Zan 舉人) of to-day?

10. In the text these are called 'the four Arts' and 'the four Teachings;' but the different phrases seem to have the same meaning.

11. The Khien-lung editors say that 'in spring and autumn the temperature is equable and the bodily spirits good, well adapted for the practice of ceremonies and moving in time to the music, whereas the long days of summer and long nights of winter are better adapted for the tasks of learning the poems and histories.'

12. The smaller assistants of the Grand director of Music were eighteen, and the greater four. See the Kâu Lî, XVII, 21. Their functions are described in XXII, 45-53.

13. Exactly the name to the candidates of to-day who have succeeded at the triennial examinations at the capital; 'the Metropolitan Graduates,' as Mayers (page 72) calls them.

14. It is strange to find the minister of War performing the services here mentioned, and only these. The Khien-lung editors say that the compilers of this Book had not seen the Kâu Lî nor the Shû. It has been seen in the Introduction, pages 4, 5, how the Kâu Lî came to light in the reign of Wû, perhaps fifty years after this Book was made, and even then did not take its place among the other restored monuments till the time of Liû Hsin. To make the duties here ascribed to the minister of War (literally, 'Master of Horse,' 司馬) appear less anomalous, Kang and other commentators quote from the Shû (V, xx, 14) only a part of the account of his functions.

15. See the Kâu Lî, XXXVII, 45, 46.

16. Branding; cutting off the nose; cutting off the feet; castration; death. See vol. iii, p. 40.

17. Vol. iii, pp. 260-263. The compilers in this part evidently had some parts of the Shû before them.

18. Which might make either party conceal the guilt of the other.

19. Which might in a similar way affect the evidence.

20. The text says, 'Under the Zizyphus trees.' These were planted in the outer court of audience, and under them the different ministers of the court had their places.

21. Callery gives for this, 'qui pardonne trois fois.' The conditions were--ignorance, mistake, forgetfulness.

22. There is here a play upon the homophonous names of different Chinese characters, often employed, as will be pointed out, in the Lî Kî, and in which the scholars of Han set an example to future times. Callery frames a French example of the reasoning that results from it: 'Un saint est un ceint; or, la ceinture signifiant au figuré la continence, il s'ensuit que la vertu de continence est essentielle à la sainteté!'

23. These would be, especially, the superintendents of the markets.

24. The five correct colours were--black, carnation, azure, white, and yellow.

25. See pages 93, 180, et al.

26. Some of the functions here belonged to the assistant recorder, according to the Kâu Lî, but the two were of the same department.

27. This office was under the board of the chief minister, and consisted of sixty-two men of different grades under the Kâu dynasty (the Kâu Lî, I, 38; their duties are described in Book VI). It is not easy to understand all the text of the rest of the paragraph, about the final settlement of the accounts of the year.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia