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Book of Documents 《尚書》

商書 說命下(僞) Shang Shu - Charge to Yue III (forged)


The king said, 'Come, O Yue. I, the little one, first learned with Gan Pan. Afterwards I lived concealed among the rude countrymen, and then I went to (the country) inside the He, and lived there. From the He I went to Bo; and the result has been that I am unenlightened. Do you teach me what should be my aims. Be to me as the yeast and the malt in making sweet spirits, as the salt and the prunes in making agreeable soup. Use various methods to cultivate me; do not cast me away - so shall I attain to practise your instructions.'


Yue said, 'O king, a ruler should seek to learn much (from his ministers), with a view to establish his affairs; but to learn the lessons of the ancients is the way to attain this. That the affairs of one, not making the ancients his masters, can be perpetuated for generations, is what I have not heard. In learning there should be a humble mind and the maintenance of a constant earnestness; in such a case (the learner's) improvement will surely come. He who sincerely cherishes these things will find all truth accumulating in his person. Teaching is the half of learning; when a man's thoughts from first to last are constantly fixed on learning, his virtuous cultivation comes unperceived. Survey the perfect pattern of our first king - so shall you for ever be preserved from error. Then shall I be able reverently to meet your views, and on every side to look out for men of eminence to place in the various offices.'


The king said, 'Oh! Yue, that all within the four seas look up to my virtue is owing to you. As his legs and arms form the man, so does a good minister form the sage (king). Formerly, there was the first premier of our dynasty, Bao-heng, who raised up and formed its royal founder. He said, "If I cannot make my sovereign like Yao or Shun, I shall feel ashamed in my heart, as if I were beaten in the market-place." If any common man did not get (all he should desire), he said, "It is my fault." (Thus) he assisted my meritorious ancestor, so that he became equal to great Heaven. Do you give your intelligent and preserving aid to me, and let not A-heng engross all the good service to the House of Shang. The sovereign should share his government with none but worthy officers. The worthy officer should accept his support from none but the proper sovereign. May you now succeed in making your sovereign a (true) successor of the founder of his line, and in securing the lasting happiness of the people!'


Yue did obeisance with his head to the ground, and said, 'I will venture to respond to. and display abroad, your Majesty's excellent charge.'

English translation: James Legge

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