Sacred Books of the East/Volume 3/The Shu/Part 5/Book 1/Section 1

Sacred Books of the East, Vol. III, The Shû King translated by James Legge
Part V, Book I: The Great Declaration, Section 1

Section 1.

In the spring of the thirteenth year[1] there was a great assembly at Mâng-king[2]. The king said, 'Ah! ye hereditary rulers of my friendly states, and all ye my officers, managers of my affairs, hearken clearly to my declaration.

'Heaven and earth is the parent of all creatures; and of all creatures man is the most highly endowed.* The sincerely intelligent (among men) becomes the great sovereign; and the great sovereign is the parent of the people. But now, Shâu, the king of Shang, does not reverence Heaven above, and inflicts calamities on the people below.* Abandoned to drunkenness and reckless in lust, he has dared to exercise cruel oppression. He has extended the punishment of offenders to all their relatives. He has put men into offices on the hereditary principle. He has made it his pursuit to have palaces, towers, pavilions, embankments, ponds, and all other extravagances, to the most painful injury of you, the myriads of the people. He has burned and roasted the loyal and good. He has ripped up pregnant women. Great Heaven was moved with indignation, and charged my deceased father Wăn to display its terrors; but (he died) before the work was completed.*

'On this account, I, , the little child, have by means of you, the hereditary rulers of my friendly states, contemplated the government of Shang; but Shâu has no repentant heart. He sits squatting on his heels, not serving God nor the spirits of heaven and earth, neglecting also the temple of his ancestors, and not sacrificing in it.* The victims and the vessels of millet all become the prey of wicked robbers, and still he says, "The people are mine; the (heavenly) appointment is mine," never trying to correct his contemptuous mind.*

'Heaven, for the help of the inferior people, made for them rulers, and made for them instructors, that they might be able to be aiding to God, and secure the tranquillity of the four quarters (of the kingdom). In regard to who are criminals and who are not, how dare I give any allowance to my own wishes?*

'"Where the strength is the same, measure the virtue of the parties; where the virtue is the same, measure their righteousness." Shâu has hundreds of thousands and myriads of officers, but they have hundreds of thousands and myriads of minds; I have (but) three thousand officers, but they have one mind. The iniquity of Shang is full. Heaven gives command to destroy it. If I did not obey Heaven, my iniquity would be as great.*

'I, the little child, early and late am filled with apprehensions. I have received the command of my deceased father Wăn; I have offered special sacrifice to God; I have performed the due services to the great earth; and I lead the multitude of you to execute the punishment appointed by Heaven.* Heaven compassionates the people. What the people desire, Heaven will be found to give effect to.* Do you aid me, the One man, to cleanse for ever (all within) the four seas. Now is the time!—It should not be lost.'


  1. The thirteenth year is reckoned from king Wû's succeeding to his father as 'the Chief of the West.'
  2. Mâng-king, or 'the Ford of Mâng,' is still the name of a district in the department of Ho-nan, Ho-nan.