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When the king returned from vanquishing Hsiâ and came to Po, he made a grand announcement to the myriad regions.
The king said, 'Ah! ye multitudes of the myriad regions, listen clearly to the announcement of me, the One man' 2. The great God has conferred (even) on the inferior people a moral sense, compliance with which would show their nature invariably right.* To make them tranquilly pursue the course which it would indicate is the work of the sovereign. 'The king of Hsiâ extinguished his virtue, and played the tyrant, extending his oppression over you, the people of the myriad regions. Suffering from his cruel injuries, and unable to endure the wormwood and poison, you protested with one accord your innocence to the spirits of heaven and earth.* The way of Heaven is to bless the good, and make the bad miserable. It sent down calamities on (the House of) Hsiâ, to make manifest its guilt. Therefore I, the little child, charged with the decree of Heaven and its bright terrors, did not dare to forgive (the criminal). I presumed to use a dark-coloured victim-bull, and, making clear announcement to the Spiritual Sovereign in the high heavens 3, requested leave to deal with the ruler of Hsiâ as a criminal.* Then I sought for the great Sage 4, with whom I might unite my strength, to request the favour (of Heaven) for you, my multitudes. High Heaven truly showed its favour to the inferior people, and the criminal has been degraded and subjected. What Heaven appoints is without error;--brilliantly (now), like the blossoming of plants and trees, the millions of the people show a true reviving.'*
'It is given to me, the One man, to secure the harmony and tranquillity of your states and clans and now I know not whether I may not offend against (the Powers) above and below.* I am fearful and trembling, as if I were in danger of falling into a deep abyss. Throughout all the regions that enter on a new life under me, do not, (ye princes), follow lawless ways; make no approach to insolence and dissoluteness; let every one be careful to keep his statutes;-that so we may receive the favour of Heaven.* The good in you I will not dare to keep concealed; and for the evil in me I will not dare to forgive myself. I will examine these things in harmony with the mind of God.* When guilt is found anywhere in you who occupy the myriad regions, let it rest on me, the One man 5. When guilt is found in me, the One man, it shall not attach to you who occupy the myriad regions. 'Oh! let us attain to be sincere in these things, and so we shall likewise have a (happy) consummation.'
1. THANG had made an end of the dynasty of Hsiâ, and returned to Po, when he issued this Announcement, which may be considered as a solemn inauguration of the new dynasty. He shows how he had taken possession of the throne in reverent submission to the will of Heaven, what appreciation he had of the duties devolving on him, and the spirit in which he would discharge them. In the end he calls on the princes and the people to sympathize and co-operate with him.
2. 'The One man' has occurred before, in the Songs of the Five Sons, as a designation of the soveregn. It continues to be so to the present day.
3. For 'the Spiritual Sovereign in the high heavens,' we have in the Confucian Analects, XX, 1, professing to quote this passage, 'the most great and Sovereign God.'
4. 'The great Sage' must be Î Yin, Thang's chief adviser and minister, who appears prominently in the next Book.
5. There was a tradition in the Kâu dynasty, given with variations by Hsü-Dze, Sze-ma Khien, and others, which may be quoted to illustrate these noble sentiments of Thang. For seven years after his accession to the throne, B.C. 1766-1760, there was a great drought and famine. It was suggested at last that some human being should be offered in sacrifice to Heaven, and prayer made for rain. Thang said, 'If a man must be the victim, I will be he.' He fasted, cut off his hair and nails, and in a plain carriage, drawn by white horses, clad in rushes, in the guise of a sacrificial victim, he proceeded to a forest of mulberry trees, and there prayed, asking to what error or crime of his the calamity was owing. He had not done speaking when a copious rain fell.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|