Sacred Books of the East/Volume 3/The Shu/Part 5/Book 2

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Book II. The Speech at Mû.


It is the morning of the day of battle, for which the king has prepared his host by the three speeches of the last Book. Once more he addresses his confederate princes, his officers, and his men. He sets forth more briefly the intolerable wickedness of Shâu, and instructs and warns his troops how they are to behave in the fight.

Mû was in the south of the present district of Khî, department Wei-hui, Ho-nan, a tract of open country stretching into the district of Kî, and at no great distance from the capital of Shâu.

1. The time was the grey dawn of the day Kiâ-𝔷ze. On that morning the king came to the open country of Mû, in the borders of Shang, and addressed his army. In his left hand he carried a battle-axe, yellow with gold, and in his right he held a white ensign, which he waved, saying, 'Far are ye come, ye men of the western regions!' He added, 'Ah! ye hereditary rulers of my friendly states; ye managers of affairs,—the Ministers of Instruction, of War, and of Works; the great officers subordinate to these, and the many other officers; the master of my body-guards; the captains of thousands and captains of hundreds; and ye, O men of Yung, Shû, Kiang, Mâo, Wei, Lû, Phang, and Pho[1], lift up your lances, join your shields, raise your spears:—I have a speech to make.'

2. The king (then) said, 'The ancients have said, "The hen does not announce the morning. The crowing of a hen in the morning (indicates) the subversion of the family." Now Shâu, the king of Shang, follows only the words of his wife. In his blindness he has neglected the sacrifices which he ought to offer, and makes no response (for the favours that he has received);* he has also cast off his paternal and maternal relations, not treating them properly. They are only the vagabonds from all quarters, loaded with crimes, whom he honours and exalts, whom he employs and trusts, making them great officers and high nobles, so that they can tyrannize over the people, and exercise their villainies in the cities of Shang.

'Now, I, Fâ, am simply executing respectfully the punishment appointed by Heaven.* In to-day's business do not advance more than six or seven steps, and then stop and adjust your ranks;—my brave men, be energetic! Do not exceed four blows, five blows, six blows, or seven blows, and then stop and adjust your ranks;—my brave men, be energetic! Display a martial bearing. Be like tigers and panthers, like bears and grisly bears,—(here) in the borders of Shang. Do not rush on these who fly (to us in submission), but receive them to serve our western land;—my brave men, be energetic! If you be not energetic (in all these matters), you will bring destruction on yourselves.'

  1. These are the names of eight different tribes or confederations of tribes of the south and west. We are to look for their sites in Sze-khüan, Yün-nan, and Hû-pei. They were, no doubt, an important portion of Wû's army, but only as auxiliaries. It is too much to ascribe, as some have done, the overthrow of Shang to an irruption of barbarous people from the west.