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Book of Documents 《尚書》

周書 梓材 Zhou Shu - Timber of the Rottlera


The king says, 'O Feng, to secure a good understanding between the multitudes of his people and his ministers (on the one hand), and the great families (on the other); and (again) to secure the same between all the subjects under his charge, and the sovereign - is the part of the ruler of a state. If you regularly, in giving out your orders, say, "My instructors whom I am to follow, my Minister of Instruction, my Minister of War, and my Minister of Works; my heads of departments, and all ye, my officers, I will on no account put any to death oppressively". Let the ruler also set the example of respecting and encouraging (the people), and these will (also) proceed to respect and encourage them. Then let him go on, in dealing with villainy and treachery, with murderers and harbourers of criminals, to exercise clemency (where it can be done), and these will likewise do the same with those who have assaulted others and injured their property.


'When sovereigns appointed overseers (of states), they did so in order to the government of the people, and said to them, "Do not give way to violence or oppression, but go on to show reverent regard for the friendless, and find helping connexions for (destitute) women." Deal with all according to this method, and cherish them. And when sovereigns gave their injunctions to the rulers of states, and their managers of affairs, what was their charge? It was that they should lead (the people) to the enjoyment of plenty and peace. Such was the way of the kings from of old. An overseer is to eschew the use of punishments.' (The king) says, 'As in the management of a field, when the soil has been all laboriously turned up, they have to proceed by orderly arrangements to make its boundaries and water-courses; as in building a house, after all the toil on its walls. they have to plaster and thatch it; as in working with the wood of the rottlera, when the toil of the coarser and finer operations has been completed, they have to apply the paint of red and other colours; (so do you finish for me the work which I have begun in the state of Wei.)'


Now let your majesty say, 'The former kings diligently employed their illustrious virtue, and produced such attachment by their cherishing (of the princes), that from all the states they brought offerings, and came with brotherly affection from all quarters, and likewise showed their virtue illustrious. Do you, O sovereign, use their methods to attach (the princes), and all the states will largely come with offerings. Great Heaven having given this Middle Kingdom with its people and territories to the former kings, do you, our present sovereign, display your virtue, effecting a gentle harmony among the deluded people, leading and urging them on; so (also) will you comfort the former kings, who received the appointment (from Heaven). Yes, make these things your study. I say so simply from my wish that (your dynasty) may continue for myriads of years, and your descendants always be the protectors of the people.'

English translation: James Legge

Glossary and Other Vocabulary