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商書 說命上(僞) Shang Shu - Charge to Yue I (forged)

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The king passed the season of sorrow in the mourning shed for three years, and when the period of mourning was over, he (still) did not speak (to give any commands). All the ministers remonstrated with him, saying, 'Oh! him who is (the first) to apprehend we pronounce intelligent, and the intelligent man is the model for others. The Son of Heaven rules over the myriad regions, and all the officers look up to and reverence him. They are the king's words which form the commands (for them). If he do not speak, the ministers have no way to receive their orders.'



On this the king made a writing, for their information, to the following effect: 'As it is mine to serve as the director for the four quarters (of the kingdom), I have been afraid that my virtue is not equal to (that of my predecessors), and therefore have not spoken. (But) while I was reverently and silently thinking of the (right) way, I dreamt that God gave me a good assistant who should speak for me.' He then minutely recalled the appearance (of the person whom he had seen), and caused search to be made for him everywhere by means of a picture. Yue, a builder in the wild country of Fu-yan, was found like to it. On this the king raised and made (Yue) his prime minister, keeping him (also) at his side.


He charged him, saying, 'Morning and evening present your instructions to aid my virtue. Suppose me a weapon of steel; I will use you for a whetstone. Suppose me crossing a great stream; I will use you for a boat with its oars. Suppose me in a year of great drought; I will use you as a copious rain. Open your mind, and enrich my mind. (Be you) like medicine, which must distress the patient, in order to cure his sickness. (Think of we) as one walking barefoot, whose feet are sure to be wounded, if he do not see the ground. Do you and your companions all cherish the same mind to assist your sovereign, that I may follow my royal predecessors, and tread in the steps of my high ancestor, to give repose to the millions of the people. Oh! respect this charge of mine; so shall you bring your work to a (good) end.'


Yue replied to the king, saying, 'Wood by the use of the line is made straight, and the sovereign who follows reproof is made sage. When the sovereign can (thus) make himself sage, his ministers, without being specially commanded, anticipate his orders - who would dare not to act in respectful compliance with this excellent charge of your Majesty?'

English translation: James Legge

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