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周書 多方 Zhou Shu - Numerous Regions

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In the fifth month, on the day Ding-hai, the king arrived from Yan, and came to (Hao), the honoured (capital of) Zhou.


The duke of Zhou said, 'The king speaks to the following effect: "Ho! I make an announcement to you of the four states, and the numerous (other) regions. Ye who were the officers and people of the prince of Yin, I have dealt very leniently as regards your lives, as ye all know. You kept reckoning greatly on (some) decree of Heaven, and did not keep with perpetual awe before your thoughts (the preservation of) your sacrifices.
'"God sent down correction on Xia, but the sovereign (only) increased his luxury and sloth, and would not speak kindly to the people. He showed himself dissolute and dark, and would not yield for a single day to the leadings of God - this is what you have heard. He kept reckoning on the decree of God (in his favour), and did not cultivate the means for the people's support. By great inflictions of punishment also he increased the disorder of the states of Xia. The first cause (of his evil course) was the internal misrule, which made him unfit to deal well with the multitudes. Nor did he endeavour to find and employ men whom he could respect, and who might display a generous kindness to the people; but where any of the people of Xia were covetous and fierce, he daily honoured them, and they practised cruel tortures in the cities. Heaven on this sought a (true) lord for the people, and made its. distinguished and favouring decree light on Tang the Successful, who punished and destroyed the sovereign of Xia. Heaven's refusal of its favour (to Xia) was decided. The righteous men of your numerous regions were not permitted. to continue long in their posts of enjoyment, and the many officers whom Xia's (last sovereign) honoured were unable intelligently to maintain the people in the enjoyment (of their lives), but, on the contrary, aided one another in oppressing them, till of the hundred ways of securing (prosperity) they could not promote (one).
'"In the case indeed of Tang the Successful, it was because he was the choice of your numerous regions that he superseded Xia, and became the lord of the people. He paid careful attention to the essential virtue (of a sovereign), in order to stimulate the people, and they on their part imitated him and were stimulated. From him down to Di-Yi, the sovereigns all made their virtue illustrious, and were cautious in the use of punishments; thus also exercising a stimulating influence (over the people). When they, having examined the evidence in criminal cases, put to death those chargeable with many crimes, they exercised the same influence, and they did so also when they liberated those who were not purposely guilty. But when the throne came to your (last) sovereign, he could not with (the good will of) your numerous regions continue in the enjoyment of the favouring decree of Heaven." Oh!'


'The king speaks to the following effect: I announce and declare to you of the numerous regions, that Heaven had no set purpose to do away with the sovereign of Xia or with the sovereign of Yin. But it was the case that your (last) ruler, being in possession of your numerous regions, abandoned himself to great excess, and reckoned on the favouring decree of Heaven, making trifling excuses for his conduct. And so in the case of the (last) sovereign of Xia; his plans of government were not of a tendency to secure his enjoyment (of the kingdom), and Heaven sent down ruin on him, and the chief of the territory (of Shang) put an end (to the line of Xia). In truth, the last sovereign of your Shang was luxurious to the extreme of luxury, while his plans of government showed neither purity nor progress, and thus Heaven sent down such ruin on him.


'"The wise, through not thinking, become foolish, and the foolish, by thinking, become wise. Heaven for five years waited kindly, and forbore with the descendant (of Tang), to see if he would indeed prove himself the ruler of the people; but there was nothing in him deserving to be regarded. Heaven then sought among your numerous regions, making a great impression by its terrors to stir up some one who would look (reverently) to it, but in all your regions there was not one deserving of its favouring regard. But there were the kings of our Zhou, who treated well the multitudes of the people, and were able to sustain the burden of virtuous (government). They could preside over (all services to) spirits and to Heaven. Heaven thereupon instructed us, and increased our excellence, made choice of us, and gave us the decree of Yin, to rule over your numerous regions."'


'"Why do I now presume to make (these) many declarations? I have dealt very leniently as regards the lives of you, the people of these four states. Why do you not show a sincere and generous obedience in your numerous regions? Why do you not aid and co-operate with the kings of our Zhou, to secure the enjoyment of Heaven's favouring decree? You now still dwell in your dwellings, and cultivate your fields; why do you not obey our kings, and consolidate the decree of Heaven? The paths which you tread are continually those of disquietude; have you in your hearts no love for yourselves? do you refuse so greatly to acquiesce in the ordinance of Heaven? do you triflingly reject that decree? do you of yourselves pursue unlawful courses, scheming (by your alleged reasons) for the approval of upright men? I simply instructed you, and published my announcement 1; with trembling awe I secured and confined (the chief criminals) - I have done so twice and for three times. But if you do not, take advantage of the leniency with which I have spared your lives, I will proceed to severe punishments, and put you to death. It is not that we, the sovereigns of Zhou, hold it virtuous to make you untranquil, but it is you yourselves who accelerate your crimes (and sufferings)."'


'The king says, "Oh! ho! I tell you, ye many officers of the. various regions, and you, ye many officers of Yin, now have ye been hurrying about, doing service to my overseers for five years. There are among you the inferior assistants, the chiefs, and the numerous directors, small and great - see that ye all attain to the discharge of your duties. Want of harmony (in the life) rises from (the want of it in) one's (inner) self - strive to be harmonious. Want of concord in your families (arises from the want of it in your conduct) - strive to be harmonious. When intelligence rules in your cities, then will you be proved to be attentive to your duties. Do not be afraid, I pray you, of the evil ways, (of the people); and moreover, by occupying your offices with a reverent harmony, yon will find it possible to select from your cities individuals on whose assistance you can calculate. You may thus long continue in this city of Luo, cultivating your fields. Heaven will favour and compassionate you, and we, the sovereigns of Zhou, will greatly help you, and confer rewards, selecting you to stand in-our royal court. Only be attentive to your duties, and you may rank among our great officers."


'The king says, "Oh! ye numerous officers, if you cannot exhort one another to pay a sincere regard to my charges, it will further show that you are unable to honour your sovereign; and all the people will (also) say, 'We will not honour him.' Thus will ye be proved slothful and perverse, greatly disobedient to the royal charges. Throughout your, numerous regions you will bring on yourselves the terrors of Heaven, and I will then inflict on you its punishments, removing you far from your country."'


'The king says, "I do not (wish to) make these many declarations, but it is in a spirit of awe that I lay my commands before you." He further says, "You may now make a (new) beginning. If you cannot reverently realize the harmony (which I enjoin), do not (hereafter) murmur against me."'

English translation: James Legge

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