Sacred Books of the East/Volume 3/The Shu/Part 4/Pan-kang

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Book VII. The Pan-kang.


Pan-kăng was the seventeenth sovereign in the line of Thang. From Thâi K to him, therefore, there was a space of 321 years, which are a gap in the history of the Shang dynasty, so far as the existing documents of the Shû are concerned. When the collection was complete, there were seven other documents between 'the Common Possession of Pure Virtue' and 'the Pan-kang,' but the latest of them belonged to the reign of ℨû-yî, B.C. 1525–1507.

The reign of Pan-kăng extended from B.C. 1401 to 1374, and is remarkable as that in which the dynasty began to be called Yin, instead of Shang. The Book belongs to the class of 'Announcements,' and is divided into three sections.

The contents centre round the removal of the capital from the north of the Ho to Yin on the south of it. The king saw that the removal was necessary, but had to contend with the unwillingness of the people to adopt such a step, and the opposition of the great families. The first section relates how he endeavoured to vindicate the measure, and contains two addresses, to the people and to those in high places, respectively, designed to secure their cordial co-operation. The second section brings before us the removal in progress, but there continue to be dissatisfactions, which the king endeavours to remove by a long and earnest defence of his course. The third section opens with the removal accomplished. The new city has been founded, and the plan of it laid out. The king makes a fresh appeal to the people and chiefs, to forget all their heart-burnings, and join with him in building up in the new capital a great destiny for the dynasty.

Section 1.

1. Pan-kăng wished to remove (the capital) to Yin[1], but the people would not go to dwell there. He therefore appealed to all the discontented, and made the following protestations. 'Our king, (ℨû-yî), came, and fixed on this (Kăng for his capital). He did so from a deep concern for our people, and not because he would have them all die, where they cannot (now) help one another to preserve their lives. I have consulted the tortoise-shell, and obtained the reply—"This is no place for us." When the former kings had any (important) business, they gave reverent heed to the commands of Heaven.* In a case like this especially they did not indulge (the wish for) constant repose,—they did not abide ever in the same city. Up to this time (the capital has been) in five regions[2]. If we do not follow (the example) of these old times, we shall be refusing to acknowledge that Heaven is making an end of our dynasty (here); how little can it be said of us that we are following the meritorious course of the former kings! As from the stump of a felled tree there are sprouts and shoots, Heaven will perpetuate its decree in our favour in this new city;—the great inheritance of the former kings will be continued and renewed, and tranquillity will be secured to the four quarters (of the kingdom).'*

2. Pan-kăng, in making the people aware of his views, began with those who were in (high) places, and took the constantly-recurring circumstances of former times to lay down the right law and measure (for the present emergency), saying, 'Let none of you dare to suppress the remonstrances of the poor people.' The king commanded all to come to him in the courtyard (of his palace).

The king spoke to this effect:—'Come, all of you; I will announce to you my instructions. Take counsel how to put away your (selfish) thoughts. Do not with haughty (disregard of me) follow after your own ease. Of old, our former kings planned like me how to employ the men of old families to share in (the labours of) government. When they wished to proclaim and announce what was to be attended to, these did not conceal the royal views; and on this account the kings greatly respected them. They did not exceed the truth (in their communications with the people), and on this account the people became greatly changed (in their views). Now, (however), you keep clamouring, and get the confidence (of the people) by alarming and shallow speeches;—I do not know what you are wrangling about. (In this movement) I am not myself abandoning my proper virtue, but you conceal the goodness of my intentions, and do not stand in awe of me, the One man. I see you as clearly as one sees a fire; but I, likewise, by my undecided plans, have produced your error.

'When the net has its line, there is order and not confusion; and when the husbandman labours upon his fields, and reaps with all his might, there is the (abundant) harvest. If you can put away your (selfish) thoughts, and bestow real good upon the people, reaching (also) to your own relatives and friends, you may boldly venture to make your words great, and say that you have accumulated merit. But you do not fear the great evils which (through our not removing) are extending far and near; (you are like) idle husbandmen, who yield themselves to ease, and are not strong to toil and labour on their acres, so that they cannot get their crop of millets. You do not speak in a spirit of harmony and goodness to the people, and are only giving birth to bitter evils for yourselves. You play the part of destroyers and authors of calamity, of villains and traitors, to bring down misery on your own persons. You set the example of evil, and must feel its smart;—what will it avail you (then) to repent? Look at the poor people;—they are still able to look to one another and give expression to their remonstrances, but when they begin to speak, you are ready with your extravagant talk;—how much more ought you to have me before your eyes, with whom it is to make your lives long or short! Why do you not report (their words) to me, but go about to excite one another by empty speeches, frightening and involving the multitudes in misery? When a fire is blazing in the flames so that it cannot be approached, can it still be beaten out? So, it will not be I who will be to blame, that you all cause dispeace in this way, (and must suffer the consequences.)

Khih Zăn[3] has said, "In men we seek those of old families; in vessels, we do not seek old ones, but new." Of old, the kings, my predecessors, and your forefathers and fathers shared together the ease and labours (of the government);—how should I dare to lay undeserved afflictions on you? For generations the toils of your (fathers) have been approved, and I will not conceal your goodness. Now when I offer the great sacrifices to my predecessors, your forefathers are present to share in them.* (They all observe) the happiness I confer and the sufferings I inflict, and I cannot dare to reward virtue that does not exist.

'I have announced to you the difficulties (of the intended movement), being bent on it, like an archer (whose only thought is to hit). Do not you despise the old and experienced, and do not make little of the helpless and young. Seek every one long continuance in this (new city), which is to be your abode; exert yourselves and put out your strength (in furthering the removal), and listen to the plans of me, the One man. I will make no distinction between men as being more distantly or more nearly related to me;—the criminal (in this matter) shall die the death, and the good-doer shall have his virtue distinguished. The prosperity of the country (ought to) come from you all. If it fail of prosperity, that must arise from me, the One man, erring in the application of punishment. Be sure, all of you, to make known this announcement. From this time forward, attend respectfully to your business; have (the duties of) your offices regularly adjusted; bring your tongues under the rule of law:—lest punishment come upon you, when repentance will be of no avail.'

Section 2.

1. Pan-kăng arose, and (was about to) cross the Ho with the people, moving (to the new capital). Accordingly, he addressed himself to those of them who were (still) dissatisfied, and made a full announcement to their multitudes, to induce a sincere acquiescence (in the measure). They all attended, and (being charged) to take no liberties in the royal courtyard, he called them near, and said, 'Listen clearly to my words, and do not disregard my commands.

'Oh! of old time my royal predecessors cherished, every one and above every other thing, a respectful care of the people, who (again) upheld their sovereign with a mutual sympathy. Seldom was it that they were not superior to any (calamitous) time sent by Heaven. When great calamities came down on Yin, the former kings did not fondly remain in their place. What they did was with a view to the people's advantage, and therefore they moved (their capitals). Why do you not reflect that I, according to what I have heard of the ancient sovereigns, in my care of you and actings towards you, am only wishing to rejoice with you in a common repose? It is not that any guilt attaches to you, so that (this movement) should be like a punishment. If I call upon you to cherish this new city, it is simply on your account, and as an act of great accordance with your wishes. My present undertaking to remove with you, is to give repose and stability to the country. You, (however), have no sympathy with the anxieties of my mind; but you all keep a great reserve in declaring your minds, (when you might) respectfully think by your sincerity to move me, the One man. You only exhaust and distress yourselves. The case is like that of sailing in a boat;—if you do not cross the stream (at the proper time), you will destroy all the cargo. Your sincerity does not respond to mine, and we are in danger of going together to destruction. You, notwithstanding, will not examine the matter; though you anger yourselves, what cure will that bring?

'You do not consult for a distant day, nor think of the calamity that must befal you (from not removing). You greatly encourage one another in what must prove to your sorrow. Now you have the present, but you will not have the future;—what prolongation of life can you look for from above? My measures are forecast to prolong your (lease of) life from Heaven; do I force you by the terrors of my power? My object is to support and nourish you all. I think of my ancestors, (who are now) the spiritual sovereigns;* when they made your forefathers toil (on similar occasions it was only for their good), and I would be enabled in the same way greatly to nourish you and cherish you.'

2. 'Were I to err in my government, and remain long here, my high sovereign, (the founder of our dynasty), would send down on me great punishment for my crime, and say, "Why do you oppress my people?"* If you, the myriads of the people, do not attend to the perpetuation of your lives, and cherish one mind with me, the One man, in my plans, the former kings will send down on you great punishment for your crime, and say, "Why do you not agree with our young grandson, but go on to forfeit your virtue?" When they punish you from above, you will have no way of escape.* Of old, my royal predecessors made your ancestors and fathers toil (only for their good). You are equally the people whom I (wish to) cherish. But your conduct is injurious;—it is cherished in your hearts. Whereas my royal predecessors made your ancestors and fathers happy, they, your ancestors and fathers, will (now) cut you off and abandon you, and not save you from death.* Here are those ministers of my government, who share with me in the offices (of the kingdom);—and yet they (only think of hoarding up) cowries and gems. Their ancestors and fathers earnestly represent (their course) to my high sovereign, saying, "Execute great punishments on our descendants." So do they advise my high sovereign to send down great calamities (on those men).'*

3. 'Oh! I have now told you my unchangeable purpose;—do you perpetually respect (my) great anxiety; let us not get alienated and removed from one another; share in my plans and thoughts, and think (only) of following me; let every one of you set up the true rule of conduct in his heart. If there be bad and unprincipled men, precipitously or carelessly disrespectful (to my orders), and taking advantage of this brief season to play the part of villains or traitors, I will cut off their noses, or utterly exterminate them. I will leave none of their children. I will not let them perpetuate their seed in this new city.

'Go! preserve and continue your lives. I will now transfer you (to the new capital), and (there) establish your families for ever.'

Section 3.

1. Pan-kăng having completed the removal, and settled the places of residence, proceeded to adjust the several positions (of all classes at an assembly); and then he soothed and comforted the multitudes, saying to them, 'Do not play nor be idle, but exert yourselves to build (here) a great destiny (for us).

'Now I have disclosed my heart and belly, my reins and bowels, and fully declared to you, my people, all my mind. I will not treat any of you as offenders; and do not you (any more) help one another to be angry, and form parties to defame me, the One man.

'Of old, my royal predecessor, (Thang), that his merit might exceed that of those who were before him, proceeded to the hill-site[4]. Thereby he removed our evils, and accomplished admirable good for our country. Now you, my people, were by (your position) dissipated and separated, so that you had no abiding place. (And yet) you asked why I was troubling your myriads and requiring you to remove. But God, being about to renew the virtuous service of my high ancestor, and secure the good order of our kingdom, I, with the sincere and respectful (of my ministers), felt a reverent care for the lives of the people, and have made a lasting settlement in (this) new city.*

'I, a youth, did not neglect your counsels;—I (only) used the best of them. Nor did any of you presumptuously oppose the decision of the tortoise-shell;—so we are here to enlarge our great inheritance.'*

2. 'Oh! ye chiefs of regions, ye heads of departments, all ye, the hundreds of officers, would that ye had a sympathy (with my people)! I will exert myself in the choice and guiding of you;—do ye think reverently of my multitudes. I will not employ those who are fond of enriching themselves; but will use and revere those who are vigorously, yet reverently, labouring for the lives and increase of the people, nourishing them and planning for their enduring settlement.

'I have now brought forward and announced to you my mind, whom I approve and whom I disallow;—let none of you but reverence (my will). 'Do not seek to accumulate wealth and precious things, but in fostering the life of the people, seek to find your merit. Reverently display your virtue in behalf of the people. For ever maintain this one purpose in your hearts.'

  1. The removal was probably necessitated by an inundation of the Ho. Kang had been fixed on by ℨû-yî for his capital. The Yin to which Pan-kăng removed was in the present district of Yen-sze, department Ho-nan, Ho-nan.
  2. This fact—the frequent change of capital—does not give us a great idea of the stability and resources of the Shang dynasty.
  3. Who Khih Zăn was is not known. The general opinion is, that he was an ancient historiographer. A Kâu Zăn is introduced in a similar way in the Confucian Analects, XVI, 1.
  4. It is supposed that this 'hill-site' of Thang was the same as that which Pan-kăng had fixed on, but this does not clearly appear in the text.