Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/20

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8
CHINESE LITERATURE

monarch “united the various parts of his domain in bonds of peace, so that concord reigned among the black-haired people.” He abdicated in favour of Shun, who is described as being profoundly wise, intelligent, and sincere. We are further told that Shun was chosen because of his great filial piety, which enabled him to live in harmony with an unprincipled father, a shifty stepmother, and an arrogant half-brother, and, moreover, to effect by his example a comparative reformation of their several characters.

We next come to a very famous personage, who founded the Hsia dynasty in B.C. 2205, and is known as the Great Yü. It was he who, during the reign of the Emperor Shun, successfully coped with a devastating flood, which has been loosely identified with the Noachic Deluge, and in reference to which it was said in the Tso Chuan, “How grand was the achievement of Yü, how far-reaching his glorious energy! But for Yü we should all have been fishes.” The following is his own account (Legge's translation):—

“The inundating waters seemed to assail the heavens, and in their vast extent embraced the mountains and overtopped the hills, so that people were bewildered and overwhelmed. I mounted my four conveyances (carts, boats, sledges, and spiked shoes), and all along the hills hewed down the woods, at the same time, along with Yi, showing the multitudes how to get flesh to eat. I opened passages for the streams throughout the nine provinces, and conducted them to the sea. I deepened the channels and canals, and conducted them to the streams, at the same time, along with Chi, sowing grain, and showing the multitudes how to procure the food of toil in addition to flesh meat. I urged them further