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

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

Book V. The Hounds of .

was the name of one of the rude tribes of the west, lying beyond the provinces of Kâu. Its situation cannot be more exactly defined. Its people, in compliment to king Wû, and impressed by a sense of his growing power, sent to him some of their hounds, and he having received them, or intimated that he would do so, the Grand-Guardian remonstrated with him, showing that to receive such animals would be contrary to precedent, dangerous to the virtue of the sovereign, and was not the way to deal with outlying tribes and nations. The Grand-Guardian, it is supposed, was the duke of Shâo, author of the Announcement which forms the twelfth Book of this Part. The Book is one of the 'Instructions' of the Shû.

1. After the conquest of Shang, the way being open to the nine tribes of the Î[1] and the eight of the Man[1], the western tribe of Lü sent as tribute some of its hounds, on which the Grand-Guardian made 'the Hounds of Lü,' by way of instruction to the king.

2. He said, 'Oh! the intelligent kings paid careful attention to their virtue, and the wild tribes on every side acknowledged subjection to them. The nearer and the more remote all presented the productions of their countries,—in robes, food, and vessels for use. The kings then displayed the things thus drawn forth by their virtue, (distributing them) to the (princes of the) states of different surnames from their own, (to encourage them) not to neglect their duties. The (more) precious things and pieces of jade they distributed among their uncles in charge of states, thereby increasing their attachment (to the throne). The recipients did not despise the things, but saw in them the power of virtue.

'Complete virtue allows no contemptuous familiarity. When (a ruler) treats superior men with such familiarity, he cannot get them to give him all their hearts; when he so treats inferior men, he cannot get them to put forth for him all their strength. Let him keep from being in bondage to his ears and eyes, and strive to be correct in all his measures. By trifling intercourse with men, he ruins his virtue; by finding his amusement in things (of mere pleasure), he ruins his aims. His aims should repose in what is right; he should listen to words (also) in their relation to what is right.

'When he does not do what is unprofitable to the injury of what is profitable, his merit can be completed. When he does not value strange things to the contemning things that are useful, his people will be able to supply (all that he needs). (Even) dogs and horses that are not native to his country he will not keep. Fine birds and strange animals he will not nourish in his state. When he does not look on foreign things as precious, foreigners will come to him; when it is real worth that is precious to him, (his own) people near at hand will be in a state of repose.

'Oh! early and late never be but earnest. If you do not attend jealously to your small actions, the result will be to affect your virtue in great matters;—in raising a mound of nine fathoms, the work may be unfinished for want of one basket (of earth). If you really pursue this course (which I indicate), the people will preserve their possessions, and the throne will descend from generation to generation.'

  1. 1.0 1.1 By 'the nine Î and eight Man' we are to understand generally the barbarous tribes lying round the China of Kâu. Those tribes are variously enumerated in the ancient. books. Generally the Î are assigned to the east, the Zung to the west the to the north, and the Man to the south.