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周書 周官 Zhou Shu - Officers of Zhou

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The king of Zhou brought the myriad regions (of the kingdom) to tranquillity; he made a tour of inspection through the Hou and Dian tenures; he punished on all sides the chiefs who had refused to appear at court; thus securing the repose of the millions of the people, and all the (princes in the) six tenures acknowledging his virtue. He then returned to the honoured capital of Zhou, and strictly regulated the officers of the administration.


The king said, 'It was the grand method of former times to regulate the government while there was no confusion, and to secure the country while there was no danger.' He said, 'Yao and Shun, having studied antiquity, established a hundred officers. At court, there were the General Regulator and (the President of) the Four Mountains; abroad, there were the pastors of the provinces and the princes of states. Thus the various departments of government went on harmoniously, and the myriad states all enjoyed repose. Under the dynasties of Xia and Shang, the number of officers was doubled, and they were able still to secure good government. (Those early) intelligent kings, in establishing their government, cared not so much about the number of the offices as about. the men (to occupy them). Now I, the little child, cultivate with reverence my virtue, concerned day and night about my deficiencies; I look up to (those) former dynasties, and seek to conform to them, while I instruct and direct you, my officers.'


'I appoint the Grand-Master, the Grand-Assistant, and the Grand-Guardian. These are the three Gong. They discourse about the principles of reason and adjust the states, harmonizing (also) and regulating the operations (in nature) of heaven and earth. These offices need not (always) be filled; there must (first) be the men for them.
'(I appoint) the junior Master, the junior Assistant, and the junior Guardian. These are called the three Gu. They assist the Gong to diffuse widely the transforming influences, and display brightly with reverence (the powers of) heaven and earth - assisting me, the One man.
'(I appoint) the Prime Minister, who presides over the ruling of the (various) regions, has the general management of all the other officers, and secures uniformity within the four seas; the Minister of Instruction, who presides over the education in the states, diffuses a knowledge of the duties belonging to the five relations of society, and trains the millions of the people to obedience; the Minister of Religion, who presides over the (sacred) ceremonies of the country, regulates the services rendered to the spirits and manes, and makes a harmony between high and low; the Minister of War, who presides over the (military) administration of the country, commands the six hosts, and secures the tranquillity of all the regions; the Minister of Crime, who presides over the prohibitions of the country, searches out the villainous and secretly wicked, and punishes oppressors and disturbers of the peace; and the Minister of Works, who presides over the land of the country, settles the four classes of the people, and secures at the proper seasons the produce of the ground.
'These six ministers with their different duties lead on their several subordinates, and set an example to the nine pastors of the provinces, enriching and perfecting the condition of the millions of the people. In six years (the lords of) the five tenures appear once at the royal court; and after a second six years, the king makes a tour of inspection in the four seasons, and examines the (various) regulations and measures at the four mountains. The princes appear before him each at the mountain of his quarter; and promotions and degradations are awarded with great intelligence.'


The king said, 'Oh! all ye men of virtue, my occupiers of office, pay reverent attention to your charges. Be careful in the commands you issue; for, once issued, they must be carried into effect, and cannot be retracted. Extinguish all selfish aims by your public feeling, and the people will have confidence in you, and be gladly obedient. Study antiquity as a preparation for entering on your offices. In deliberating on affairs, form your determinations by help (of such study), and your measures will be free from error. Make the regular statutes of (our own) dynasty your rule, and do not with artful speeches introduce disorder into your offices. To accumulate doubts is the way to ruin your plans; to be idle and indifferent is the way to ruin your government. Without study, you stand facing a wall, and your management of affairs will be full of trouble.


'I warn you, my high ministers and officers, that exalted merit depends on the high aim, and a patrimony is enlarged only by diligence; it is by means of bold decision that future difficulties are avoided. Pride comes, along with rank, unperceived, and extravagance in the same way with emolument. Let reverence and economy be (real) virtues with you, unaccompanied with hypocritical display. Practise them as virtues, and your minds will be at ease, and you will daily become more admirable. Practise them in hypocrisy, and your minds will be toiled, and you will daily become more stupid. In the enjoyment of favour think of peril, and never be without a cautious apprehension; he who is without such apprehension finds himself amidst what is really to be feared. Push forward the worthy, and show deference to the able; and harmony will prevail among all your officers. When they are not harmonious, the government becomes a mass of confusion. If those whom you advance be able for their offices, the ability is yours; if you advance improper men, you are not equal to your position.'


English translation: James Legge

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