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周書 旅獒 Zhou Shu - Hounds of Lu

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After the conquest of Shang, the way being open to the nine tribes of the Yi and the eight of the Man, the western tribe of Lu sent as tribute some of its hounds, on which the Grand-Guardian made 'the Hounds of Lu,' by way of instruction to the king.


He said, 'Oh! the intelligent kings paid careful attention to their virtue, and the wild tribes on every side acknowledged subjection to them. The nearer and the more remote all presented the productions of their countries, in robes, food, and vessels for use. The kings then displayed the things thus drawn forth by their virtue, (distributing them) to the (princes of the) states of different surnames from their own, (to encourage them) not to neglect their duties. The (more) precious things and pieces of jade they distributed among their uncles in charge of states, thereby increasing their attachment (to the throne). The recipients did not despise the things, but saw in them the power of virtue.
Complete virtue allows no contemptuous familiarity. When (a ruler) treats superior men with such familiarity, he cannot get them to give him all their hearts; when he so treats inferior men, he cannot get them to put forth for him all their strength. Let him keep from being in bondage to his ears and eyes, and strive to be correct in all his measures. By trifling intercourse with men, he ruins his virtue; by finding his amusement in things (of mere pleasure), he ruins his aims. His aims should repose in what is right; he should listen to words (also) in their relation to what is right.
When he does not do what is unprofitable to the injury of what is profitable, his merit can be completed. When he does not value strange things to the contemning things that are useful, his people will be able to supply (all that he needs). (Even) dogs and horses that are not native to his country he will not keep. Fine birds and strange animals be will not nourish in his state. When he does not look on foreign things as precious, foreigners will come to him; when it is real worth that is precious to him, (his own) people near at hand will be in a state of repose.
Oh! early and late never be but earnest. If you do not attend jealously to your small actions, the result will be to affect your virtue in great matters; in raising a mound of nine fathoms, the work may be unfinished for want of one basket (of earth). If you really pursue this course (which I indicate), the people will preserve their possessions, and the throne will descend from generation to generation.'

English translation: James Legge

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