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In the fifth month, on the day Ting-hâi, the king arrived from Yen, and came to (Hâo), the honoured (capital of) Kâu. The duke of Kâu said, 'The king speaks to the following effect: "Ho! I make an announcement to you of the four states, and the numerous (other) regions. Ye who were the officers and people of the prince of Yin, I have dealt very leniently as regards your lives, as ye all know. You kept reckoning greatly on (some) decree of Heaven, and did not keep with perpetual awe before your thoughts (the preservation of) your sacrifices 2.* '"God sent down correction on Hsiâ, but the sovereign (only) increased his luxury and sloth, and would not speak kindly to the people. He showed himself dissolute and dark, and would not yield for a single day to the leadings of God:--this is what you have heard.* He kept reckoning on the decree of God (in his favour), and did not cultivate the means for the people's support.* By great inflictions of punishment also he increased the disorder of the states of Hsiâ. The first cause (of his evil course) was the internal misrule 3, which made him unfit to deal well with the multitudes. Nor did he endeavour to find and employ men whom he could respect, and who might display a generous kindness to the people; but where any of the people of Hsiâ were covetous and fierce, he daily honoured them, and they practised cruel tortures in the cities. Heaven on this sought a (true) lord for the people, and made its distinguished and favouring decree light on Thang the Successful, who punished and destroyed the sovereign of Hsiâ.* Heaven's refusal of its favour (to Hsiâ) was decided. The righteous men of your numerous regions were not permitted to continue long in their posts of enjoyment, and the many officers whom Hsiâ's (last sovereign) honoured were unable intelligently to maintain the people in the enjoyment (of their lives), but, on the contrary, aided one another in oppressing them, till of the hundred ways of securing (prosperity) they could not promote (one). '"In the case indeed of Thang the Successful, it was because he was the choice of your numerous regions that he superseded Hsiâ, and became the lord of the people. He paid careful attention to the essential virtue (of a sovereign) 4, in order to stimulate the people, and they on their part imitated him and were stimulated. From him down to Tî-yî, the sovereigns all made their virtue illustrious, and were cautious in the use of punishments;--thus also exercising a stimulating influence (over the people). When they, having examined the evidence in criminal cases, put to death those chargeable with many crimes, they exercised the same influence, and they did so also when they liberated those who were not purposely guilty. But when the throne came to your (last) sovereign, he could not with (the good will of) your numerous regions continue in the enjoyment of the favouring decree of Heaven."'*

'Oh! the king speaks to the following effect:--"I announce and declare to you of the numerous regions, that Heaven had no set purpose to do away with the sovereign of Hsiâ or with the sovereign of Yin. But it was the case that your (last) ruler, being in possession of your numerous regions, abandoned himself to great excess, and reckoned on the favouring decree of Heaven, making trifling excuses for his conduct. And so in the case of the (last) sovereign of Hsiâ; his plans of government were not of a tendency to secure his enjoyment (of the kingdom), and Heaven sent down ruin on him, and the chief of the territory (of Shang) put an end (to the line of Hsiâ). In truth, the last sovereign of your Shang was luxurious to the extreme of luxury, while his plans of government showed neither purity nor progress, and thus Heaven sent down such ruin on him 5.* '"The wise, through not thinking, become foolish, and the foolish, by thinking, become wise. Heaven for five years waited kindly, and forbore with the descendant (of Thang), to see if he would indeed prove himself the ruler of the people; but there was nothing in him deserving to be regarded. Heaven then sought among your numerous regions, making a great impression by its terrors to stir up some one who would look (reverently) to it, but in all your regions there was not one deserving of its favouring regard. But there were the kings of our Kâu, who treated well the multitudes of the people, and were able to sustain the burden of virtuous (government). They could preside over (all services to) spirits and to Heaven.* Heaven thereupon instructed us, and increased our excellence, made choice of us, and gave us the decree of Yin, to rule over your numerous regions."'*

'"Why do I now presume to make (these) many declarations? I have dealt very leniently as regards the lives of you, the people of these four states. Why do you not show a sincere and generous obedience in your numerous regions? Why do you not aid and co-operate with the kings of our Kâu, to secure the enjoyment of Heaven's favouring decree? You now still dwell in your dwellings, and cultivate your fields;--why do you not obey our kings, and consolidate the decree of Heaven? The paths which you tread are continually those of disquietude;--have you in your hearts no love for yourselves? do you refuse so greatly to acquiesce in the ordinance of Heaven? do you triflingly reject that decree? do you of yourselves pursue unlawful courses, scheming (by your alleged reasons) for the approval of upright men? I simply instructed you, and published my announcement 6; with trembling awe I secured and confined (the chief criminals):--I have done so twice and for three times. But if you do not take advantage of the leniency with which I have spared your lives, I will proceed to severe punishments, and put you to death. It is not that we, the sovereigns of Kâu, hold it virtuous to make you untranquil, but it is you yourselves who accelerate your crimes (and sufferings)."'

'The king says, "Oh! ho! I tell you, ye many officers of the various regions, and you, ye many officers of Yin, now have ye been hurrying about, doing service to my overseers for five years. There are among you the inferior assistants, the chiefs, and the numerous directors, small and great;--see that ye all attain to the discharge of your duties. Want of harmony (in the life) rises from (the want of it in) one's (inner) self;--strive to be harmonious. Want of concord in your families (arises from the want of it in your conduct);--strive to be harmonious. When intelligence rules in your cities, then will you be proved to be attentive to your duties. Do not be afraid, I pray you, of the evil ways, (of the people); and moreover, by occupying your offices with a reverent harmony, you will find it possible to select from your cities individuals on whose assistance you can calculate. You may thus long continue in this city of Lo 7, cultivating your fields. Heaven will favour and compassionate you, and we, the sovereigns of Kau, will greatly help you, and confer rewards, selecting you to stand in our royal court. Only be attentive to your duties, and you may rank among our great officers." 'The king says, "Oh! ye numerous officers, if you cannot exhort one another to pay a sincere regard to my charges, it will further show that you are unable to honour your sovereign; and all the people will (also) say, 'We will not honour him.' Thus will ye be proved slothful and perverse, greatly disobedient to the royal charges. Throughout your numerous regions you will bring on yourselves the terrors of Heaven, and I will then inflict on you its punishments, removing you far from your country."'

'The king says, "I do not (wish to) make these many declarations, but it is in a spirit of awe that I lay my commands before you." He further says, "You may now make a (new) beginning. If you cannot reverently realize the harmony (which I enjoin), do not (hereafter) murmur against me."'


1. THE king has returned to his capital in triumph, having put down rebellion in the east, and specially extinguished the state or tribe of Yen. The third chapter of Book xiv contained a reference to an expedition against Yen. Critics are divided on the point of whether the expedition mentioned in this Book was the same as that, or another; and our sources of information are not sufficient to enable us to pronounce positively in the case. If we may credit what Mencius says, the Records of the Shû do not tell us a tithe of the wars carried on by the duke of Kâu to establish the new dynasty:--'He smote Yen, and after three years put its ruler to death. He drove Fei-lien to a corner by the sea, and slew him. The states which he extinguished amounted to fifty' (Mencius, III, ii, ch. 9). However this point be settled, on the occasion when the announcement in this Book was delivered, a great assembly of princes and nobles--the old officers of Yin or Shang, and chiefs from many regions--was met together. They are all supposed to have been secretly, if not openly, in sympathy with the rebellion which has been trampled out, and to grudge to yield submission to the rule of Kâu. The king, by the duke of Kâu, reasons and expostulates with them. He insists on the leniency with which they had been treated in the past; and whereas they might be saying that Kâu's overthrow of the Yin dynasty was a usurpation, he shows that it was from the will of Heaven. The history of the nation is then reviewed, and it is made to appear that king Wû had displaced the kings of Yin or Shang, just as Thang, the founder of the Shang dynasty, had displaced those of Hsiâ. It was their duty therefore to submit to Kâu. If they did not avail themselves of its leniency, they should be dealt with in another way. Having thus spoken, the duke turns, in the fourth of the five chapters into which I have divided the Book, and addresses the many officers of the states, and especially those of Yin, who had been removed to Lo, speaking to them, as 'the Numerous Officers,' after the style of Book xiv. Finally, he admonishes them all that it is time to begin a new course. If they do well, it will be well with them; if they continue perverse, they will have to blame themselves for the consequences.

2. The extinction of the sacrifices of a state was its utter overthrow. None were left--or if some might be left, none of them were permitted--to continue the sacrifices to its founder and his descendants.

3. The vile debaucheries of which Kieh was guilty through his connexion with the notorious Mei-hsî.

4. That is, to benevolence or the love of the people.

5. There must have been something remarkable in the closing period of Kâu-hsin's history, to which the duke alludes in the subsequent specification of five years. We do not know the events of the times sufficiently to say what it was.

6. Referring probably to 'the Great Announcement' in Book vii.

7. It would almost seem from this that the announcement was made in Lo; and some critics have argued that Lo was 'the honoured capital' in the first sentence.

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