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

Sacred Books of the East, Vol. III, The Shû King translated by James Legge
Part V, Book III: The Successful Completion of the War

Book III.
The Successful Completion of the War.

I have divided this Book into three chapters:—one, consisting of brief historical notes of the commencement and close of 's expedition; a second, giving the address (or a part of it) delivered by Wû to his nobles and officers on occasion, we may suppose, of their recognition of him as king, and his confirming some of them in their old states or appointments, and giving new ones to others; the third again historical, and relating several incidents of the battle between Wû and Shâu, and going on to subsequent events and important governmental measures of the new dynasty.

Most Chinese critics hold that portions of the Book are lost, and that the paragraphs of it are, besides, erroneously arranged. In what division of the documents of the Shû it should be classified, it is not easy to say. It is more like a 'Canon' than anything else.

1. In the first month, the day Zăn-khăn immediately followed the end of the moon's waning. The next day was Kwei-kî, when the king, in the morning, marched from Kâu[1] to attack and punish Shang. In the fourth month, at the first appearance of the moon, the king came from Shang to Făng[2], when he hushed all the movements of war, and proceeded to cultivate the arts of peace. He sent back his horses to the south of mount Hwâ, and let loose his oxen in the open country of Thâo-lin[3], showing to all under heaven that he would not use them (again).

On the day Ting-wei, he sacrificed in the ancestral temple of Kâu, when (the princes) of the royal domain, and of the Tien, Hâu, and Wei domains, all hurried about, carrying the dishes.* The third day after was Kăng-hsü, when he presented a burnt-offering to Heaven, and worshipped towards the hills and rivers, solemnly announcing the successful completion of the war.*

After the moon began to wane, the hereditary princes of the various states, and all the officers, received their appointments from Kâu[4].

2. The king spoke to the following effect:—'Oh! ye host of princes, the first of our kings[5] founded his state, and commenced (the enlargement of) its territory. Kung Liû[6] was able to consolidate the services of his predecessor. But it was the king Thâi who laid the foundations of the royal inheritance. The king Kî was diligent for the royal House; and my deceased father, king Wăn, completed his merit, and grandly received the appointment of Heaven, to soothe the regions of our great land.* The great states feared his strength; the small states thought fondly of his virtue. In nine years, however, the whole kingdom was not united under his rule, and it fell to me, the little child, to carry out his will.

'Detesting the crimes of Shang, I announced to great Heaven and the sovereign Earth, to the famous hill[7] and the great river[7] by which I passed, saying, "I, , the principled, king of Kâu by a long descent, am about to administer a great correction to Shang. Shâu, the present king of Shang, is without principle, cruel and destructive to the creatures of Heaven, injurious and tyrannical to the multitudes of the people, lord of all the vagabonds under heaven, who collect about him as fish in the deep, and beasts in the prairie. I, the little child, having obtained (the help of) virtuous men, presume reverently to comply with (the will of) God, and make an end of his disorderly ways.* Our flowery and great land, and the tribes of the south and north, equally follow and consent with me. Reverently obeying the determinate counsel of Heaven, I pursue my punitive work to the east, to give tranquillity to its men and women. They meet me with their baskets full of dark-coloured and yellow silks, thereby showing (the virtues) of us, the kings of Kâu. Heaven's favours stir them up, so that they come with their allegiance to our great state of Kâu. And now, ye spirits, grant me your aid, that I may relieve the millions of the people, and nothing turn out to your shame."'*

3. On the day Wû-wû, the army crossed the ford of Măng, and on Kwei-hâi it was drawn up in array in the borders of Shang, waiting for the gracious decision of Heaven. On Kiâ-zze, at early dawn, Shâu led forward his troops, (looking) like a forest, and assembled them in the wild of . But they offered no opposition to our army. Those in the front inverted their spears, and attacked those behind them, till they fled; and the blood flowed till it floated the pestles of the mortars. Thus did (king ) once don his armour, and the kingdom was grandly settled. He overturned the (existing) rule of Shang, and made government resume its old course. He delivered the count of Khî from prison, and raised a mound over the grave of Pî-kan. He bowed forward to the cross-bar of his carriage at the gate of Shang Yung's village[8]. He dispersed the treasures of the Stag Tower[9] and distributed the grain of Kü-khiâo[10], thus conferring great gifts on all within the four seas, so that the people joyfully submitted to him.

He arranged the nobles in five orders[11], assigning the territories to them according to a threefold scale[12]. He gave offices only to the worthy, and employments only to the able. He attached great importance to the people's being taught the duties of the five relations of society, and to measures for ensuring a sufficient supply of food, attention to the rites of mourning, and to sacrifices.* He showed the reality of his truthfulness, and proved clearly his righteousness. He honoured virtue, and rewarded merit. Then he had only to let his robes fall down, and fold his hands, and the kingdom was orderly ruled.

  1. Kâu is, probably, 's capital, called Hâo, about ten miles south of the present district city of Khang-an, and not quite so far from his father's capital of Făng. The river Făng ran between them.
  2. In Făng there was the ancestral temple of the lords of Kâu, and thither from the capital of Shang, now repaired for the purpose of sacrificing.
  3. The country about the hill of Mû-niû or Khwâ-fû, in the southeast of the present department of Thung-kâu. Thâo-lin may be translated 'Peach-forest.'
  4. The new dynasty of Kâu was now fully inaugurated.
  5. By 'the first of our kings,' we must understand Khî, Shun's Minister of Agriculture; and his state was that of Thâi.
  6. Kung Liû, perhaps 'duke Liû,' appears in Pin, the present Pin Kâu of Shen-hsî, about the beginning of the eighteenth century B.C., reviving the fallen fortunes of the House of Khî. History is then silent about the family for more than four centuries, when we find Than-fû, called here 'king Thâi,' founding the state of Kâu.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Probably mount Hwâ and the Ho.
  8. Shang Yung must have been some worthy in disgrace with Shâu, and living in the retirement of his village.
  9. The Stag Tower was the name of a place in the present department of Wei-hui, Ho-nan, where Shâu had accumulated great treasures. He fled to it after his defeat, and burned himself to death; but it would appear he had not succeeded in consuming at the same time all his wealth.
  10. Kü-khiâo was in the present district of Khü-kâu, department Kwang-phing, Kih-lî, where Shâu had collected great stores of grain.
  11. Dukes, marquises, earls, counts, and barons.
  12. Dukes and marquises had the same amount of territory assigned to them, and counts and barons also.