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虞書 益稷 Yu Shu - Yi and Ji

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The Di said, 'Come Yu, you also must have excellent words (to bring before me).' Yu did obeisance, and said, 'Oh! what can I say, O Di, (after Gao-Yao)? I can (only) think of maintaining a daily assiduity.' Gao-Yao said, 'Alas! will you describe it?' Yu replied, 'The inundating waters seemed to assail the heavens, and in their vast extent embraced the hills and overtopped the great mounds, so that the people were bewildered and overwhelmed. I mounted my four conveyances, and all along the hills hewed down the trees, at the same time, along with Yi, showing the multitudes how to get flesh to eat. I (also) opened passages for the streams (throughout the) nine (provinces), and conducted them to the four seas. I deepened (moreover) the channels and canals, and conducted them to the streams, sowing (grain), at the same time, along with Ji, and showing the multitudes how to procure the food of toil, (in addition to) the flesh meat. I urged them (further) to exchange what they had for what they had not, and to dispose of their accumulated stores. (In this way) all the people got grain to eat, and the myriad regions began to come under good rule.' Gao-Yao said, 'Yes, we ought to model ourselves after your excellent words.'


Yu said, 'Oh! carefully maintain, O Di, the throne which you occupy.' The Di replied, 'Yes;' and Yu went on, 'Find your repose in your (proper) resting-point. Attend to the springs of things; study stability; and let your assistants be the upright - then shall your movements be grandly responded to, (as if the people only) waited for your will. Thus you will brightly receive (the favour of) God - will not Heaven renew its appointment of you, and give you blessing?'


The Di said, 'Alas! what are ministers? - are they not (my) associates? What are associates? - are they not (my) ministers?' Yu replied, 'Yes'.


The Di went on, 'My ministers constitute my legs and arms, my ears and eyes. I wish to help and support my people - you give effect to my wishes. I wish to spread the influence (of my government) through the four quarters - you act as my agents. I wish to see the emblematic figures of the ancients - the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountain, the dragons, and the flowery fowl (the pheasant), which are depicted (on the upper garment); the temple cups, the pondweed, the flames, the grains of rice, the hatchet, and the symbol of distinction, which are embroidered (on the lower Garment) - (I wish to see all these) fully displayed in the five colours, so as to form the (ceremonial) robes - it is yours to see them clearly (for me). I wish to hear the six pitch-tubes, the five notes (determined by them), and the eight kinds of musical instruments (regulated again by these), examining thereby the virtues and defects of government, according as (the odes that) go forth (from the court, set to music), and come in (from the people), are ordered by those five notes - it is yours to hear them (for me). When I am doing wrong, it is yours to correct me; do not follow me to my face, and, when you have retired, have other remarks to make. Be reverent, ye associates, who are before and behind and on each side of me! As to all the obstinately stupid and calumniating talkers, who are found not to be doing what is right, are there not the target to exhibit (their true character), the scourge to make them recollect, and the book of remembrance? Do we not wish them to live along with us? There are also the masters (of music) to receive their compositions, (set them to music), and continually publish them (as corrected by themselves). If they become reformed they are to be received and employed; if they do not, let the terrors (of punishment) overtake them.'


Yu said, 'So far good! But let your light shine, O Di, all under heaven, even to every grassy corner of the sea-shore, and throughout the myriad regions the most worthy of the people will all (wish) to be your ministers. Then, O Di, you may advance them to office. They will set forth, and you will receive, their reports; you will make proof of them according to their merits; you will confer chariots and robes according to their services. Who will then dare not to cultivate a humble virtue? who will dare not to respond to you with reverence? If you, O Di, do not act thus, all (your ministers) together will daily proceed to a meritless character.'


'Be not haughty like Zhu of Dan, who found his pleasure only in indolence and dissipation, and pursued a proud oppressive course. Day and night without ceasing he was thus. He would make boats go where there was no water. He introduced licentious associates into his family. The consequence was that he brought the prosperity of his house to an end. I took warning from his course. When I married in Tu-shan, (I remained with my wife only the days) xin, ren, gui, and jia. When (my son) Qi was wailing and weeping, I did not regard him, but kept planning with all my might my labour on the land. (Then) I assisted in completing the five Tenures, extending over 5000 li; (in appointing) in the provinces twelve Tutors, and in establishing in the regions beyond, reaching to the four seas, five Presidents. These all pursue the right path, and are meritorious; but there are still (the people of) Miao, who obstinately refuse to render their service. Think of this, O Di.' The Di said, 'That my virtue is followed is the result of your meritorious services so orderly displayed. And now Gao-Yao, entering respectfully into your arrangements, is on every hand displaying the (various) punishments, as represented, with entire intelligence.'


Kui said, 'When the sounding-stone is tapped or struck with force, and the lutes are strongly swept or gently touched, to accompany the singing, the progenitors (of the Di) come (to the service), the guest of Yu is in his place, and all the princes show their virtue in giving place to one another. (In the court) below (the hall) there are the flutes and hand-drums, which join in at the sound of the rattle, and cease at that of the stopper, when the organ and bells take their place. (This makes) birds and beasts fall moving. When the nine parts of the service, as arranged by the Di, have all been performed, the male and female phœnix come with their measured gambolings (into the court).' Kui said, 'Oh! when I smite the (sounding-) stone, or gently strike it, the various animals lead on one another to dance, and all the chiefs of the official departments become truly harmonious.'


The Di on this made a song, saying, 'We must deal cautiously with the favouring appointment of Heaven, at every moment and in the smallest particular.' He then sang.

'When the members (work) joyfully,
The head rises (grandly);
And the duties of all the offices are fully discharged!

Gao-Yao did obeisance with his head to his hands and then to the ground, and with a loud and rapid voice said,' Think (O Di). It is your to lead on and originate things. Pay careful attention to your laws (in doing so). Be reverential! and often examine what has been accomplished (by your officers). Be reverential!' With this he continued the song,

'When the head is intelligent,
The members are good;
And all affairs will be happily performed!'

Again he continued the song,

'When the head is vexatious,
The members are idle;
And all affairs will go to ruin!'

The Di said, 'Yes, go and be reverently (attentive to your duties).'

English translation: James Legge

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