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8. 微子之命




The king speaks to the following effect:--'Ho! eldest son of the king of Yin, examining into antiquity, (I find) that the honouring of the virtuous (belongs to their descendants) who resemble them in worth, and (I appoint) you to continue the line of the kings your ancestors, observing their ceremonies and taking care of their various relics. Come (also) as a guest to our royal House 2, and enjoy the prosperity of our kingdom, for ever and ever without end. 'Oh! your ancestor, Thang the Successful, was reverent and sage, (with a virtue) vast and deep. The favour and help of great Heaven lighted upon him, and he grandly received its appointment, to soothe the people by his gentleness, and remove the wicked oppressions from which they were suffering.* His achievements affected his age, and his virtue was transmitted to his posterity. And you are the one who pursue and cultivate his plans;--this praise has belonged to you for long. Reverently and carefully have you discharged your filial duties; gravely and respectfully you behave to spirits and to men.* I admire your virtue, and pronounce it great and not to be forgotten. God will always enjoy your offerings; the people will be reverently harmonious (under your sway).* I raise you therefore to the rank of high duke, to rule this eastern part of our great land 3. 'Be reverent. Go and diffuse abroad your instructions. Be carefully observant of your robes and (other accompaniments of) your appointment 4; follow and observe the proper statutes;--so as to prove a bulwark to the royal House. Enlarge (the fame of) your meritorious ancestor; be a law to your people;--so as for ever to preserve your dignity. (So also) shall you be a help to me, the One man; future ages will enjoy (the benefit of) your virtue; all the states will take you for a pattern;--and thus you will make our dynasty of Kâu never weary of you. Oh! go, and be prosperous. Do not disregard my charge.'


1. THE count of Wei was the principal character in the eleventh Book of the last Part, from which it appeared that he was a brother of the tyrant Kâu-hsin. We saw how his friends advised him to withdraw from the court of Shang, and save himself from the destruction that was impending over their House. He had done so, and king Wû had probably continued him in the possession of his appanage of Wei, while Wû-kang, the son of the tyrant, had been spared, and entrusted with the duty of continuing the sacrifices to the great Thang and the other sovereigns of the House of Shang. Now that Wû-kang has been punished with death for his rebellion, the duke of Kâu summons the count of Wei to court, and in the name of king Khang invests him with the dukedom of Sung, corresponding to the present department of Kwei-teh, Ho-nan, there to be the representative of the line of the departed kings of Shang.

2. Under the dynasty of Kâu, the representatives of the two previous dynasties of Shang and Hsiâ were distinguished above the other princes of the kingdom, and denominated 'guests' of the sovereign, coming to his court and assisting in the services in his ancestral temple, nearly on a footing of equality with him.

3. Sung lay east from Fang and Hâo, the capitals of Wan and Wû, which were in the present department of Hsî-an, Shen-hsî.

4. Meaning probably that he was to bear in mind that, however illustrious his descent, he was still a subject of the king of Kâu.

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