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商書 太甲中 Shang Shu - Tai Jia II

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On the first day of the twelfth month of his third year, Yi Yin escorted the young king in the royal cap and robes back to Bo. (At the same time) he made the following writing: 'Without the sovereign, the people cannot have that guidance which is necessary to (the comfort of) their lives; without the people, the sovereign would have no sway over the four quarters (of the kingdom). Great Heaven has graciously favoured the House of Shang, and granted to you, O young king, at last to become virtuous. This is indeed a blessing that will extend without limit to ten thousand generations.'


The king did obeisance with his face to his hands and his head to the ground, saying, 'I, the little child, was without understanding of what was virtuous, and was making myself one of the unworthy. By my desires I was setting at nought all rules of conduct, and violating by my self-indulgence all rules of propriety, and the result must have been speedy ruin to my person. Calamities sent by Heaven may be avoided, but from calamities brought on by one's self there is no escape." Heretofore I turned my back on the instructions of you, my tutor and guardian;--my beginning has been marked by incompetency. Let me still rely on your correcting and preserving virtue, keeping this in view that my end may be good!"


Yi Yin did obeisance with his face to his hands and his head on the ground, and said, 'To cultivate his person, and by being sincerely virtuous, bring (all) below to harmonious concord with him; this is the work of the intelligent sovereign. The former king was kind to the distressed and suffering, as if they were his children, and the people submitted to his commands - all with sincere delight. Even in the states of the neighbouring princes, (the people) said, "We are waiting for our sovereign; when our sovereign comes, we shall not suffer the punishments (that we, now do)." O king, zealously cultivate your virtue. Regard (the example of) your meritorious grandfather. At no time allow yourself in pleasure and idleness. In worshipping your ancestors, think how you can prove your filial piety; in receiving your ministers, think how you can show yourself respectful; in looking to what is distant. Try to get clear views; have your ears ever open to lessons of virtue - then shall I acknowledge (and respond to) the excellence of your majesty with an untiring (devotion to your service).

English translation: James Legge

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