Sacred Books of the East/Volume 3/The Shu/Part 4/Announcement of Kung-hui

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Book II. The Announcement Of Kung-hui.


This Book is the first of the 'Announcements,' which form a large class of the documents in the Shû. They are distinguished from the Speeches, as being made in a general assembly, or published, for the information of all, whereas the Speeches were made to an army.

Kung-hui, of an old family, whose surname was Zăn, with its seat in the territory of Hsieh, corresponding to the present district of Thang, department Yen-kâu, Shan-tung, was a minister of Thang. Thang has been successful against Kieh, and dethroned him, but is haunted by some feeling of remorse, and afraid that what he has done may be appealed to in future ages as an apology for rebellion. This gives occasion to the Announcement, in which Kung-hui vindicates the proceeding of the king, showing, first, that he had only obeyed the guidance of Heaven, and, then, that men consented with Heaven in the matter. He concludes with various counsels addressed to the king.

1. When Thang the Successful was keeping in banishment in Nan-khâo[1], he had a feeling of shame on account of his conduct, and said, 'I am afraid that in future ages men will fill their mouths with me, (as an apology for their rebellious proceedings.)'

2. On this Kung-hui made the following announcement: 'Oh! Heaven gives birth to the people with (such) desires, that without a ruler they must fall into all disorders; and Heaven again gives birth to the man of intelligence to regulate them.* The sovereign of Hsiâ had his virtue all-obscured, and the people were (as if they had fallen) amid mire and (burning) charcoal. Heaven hereupon gifted (our) king with valour and prudence, to serve as a sign and director to the myriad regions, and to continue the old ways of Yü. You are now (only) following the proper course, honouring and obeying the appointment of Heaven. The king of Hsiâ was an offender, falsely and calumniously alleging the sanction of supreme Heaven, to spread abroad his commands among the people. On this account God viewed him with disapprobation, caused our Shang to receive his appointment, and employed (you) to enlighten the multitudes (of the people).' *

3. 'Contemners of the worthy and parasites of the powerful, many such followers he had indeed; (but) from the first our country was to the sovereign of Hsiâ like weeds among the springing corn, and blasted grains among the good. (Our people), great and small, were in constant apprehension, fearful though they were guilty of no crime. How much more was this the case, when our (prince's) virtues became a theme (eagerly) listened to! Our king did not approach to (dissolute) music and women; he did not seek to accumulate property and wealth, To great virtue he gave great offices, and to great merit great rewards. He employed others as if (their excellences) were his own; he was not slow to change his errors. Rightly indulgent and rightly benevolent, from the display (of such virtue), confidence was reposed in him by the millions of the people.

'When the earl of Ko[2] showed his enmity to the provision-carriers, the work of punishment began with Ko. When it went on in the east, the wild tribes of the west murmured; when it went on in the south, those of the north murmured:—they said, "Why does he make us alone the last?" To whatever people he went, they congratulated one another in their families, saying, "We have waited for our prince; our prince is come, and we revive." The people's honouring our Shang is a thing of long existence.'

4. 'Show favour to the able and right-principled (among the princes), and aid the virtuous; distinguish the loyal, and let the good have free course. Absorb the weak, and punish the wilfully blind; take their states from the disorderly, and deal summarily with those going to ruin. When you (thus) accelerate the end of what is (of itself) ready to perish, and strengthen what is itself strong to live, how will the states all flourish! When (a sovereign's) virtue is daily being renewed, he is cherished throughout the myriad regions; when his mind is full (only) of himself, he is abandoned by the nine branches of his kindred. Exert yourself, O king, to make your virtue (still more) illustrious, and set up (the standard of) the Mean before the people. Order your affairs by righteousness; order your heart by propriety;—so shall you transmit a grand example to posterity. I have heard the saying, "He who finds instructors for himself, comes to the supreme dominion; he who says that others are not equal to himself, comes to ruin. He who likes to put questions, becomes enlarged; he who uses only his own views, becomes smaller (than he was)." Oh! he who would take care for the end must be attentive to the beginning. There is establishment for the observers of propriety, and overthrow for the blinded and wantonly indifferent. To revere and honour the path prescribed by Heaven is the way ever to preserve the favouring appointment of Heaven.'*

  1. Nan-khâo is identified with the present district of Khâo, department Lu-kâu, An-hui.
  2. Ko was a principality corresponding to the present district of Ning-ling, department of Kwei-teh, Ho-nan. It was thus near the southern Po, which belonged to Thang. Mencius tells us (III, ii, ch. 3) that Thang sent a multitude of his people to assist the farmers of Ko, about the poor produce of which their chief had lamented to him. That chief, however, instead of showing any gratitude, surprised and robbed those who were carrying provisions from Po to the labourers in the field, and committed various atrocities upon them. This aroused Thang's indignation, and he made him the first object of his punitive justice.