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The Shih King by James Legge

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AN UNFORTUNATE WOMAN, WHO HAD BEEN SEDUCED INTO AN IMPROPER
CONNEXION, NOW CAST OFF, RELATES AND BEMOANS HER SAD CASE.

An extract is given from the pathetic history here related, because it
shows how divination was used among the common people, and entered
generally into the ordinary affairs of life.

A simple-looking lad you were, Carrying cloth

[1. Thang was the name of a town, evidently not far from Khu.

2. We have seen before how divination was resorted to on occasion of new
undertakings, especially in proceeding to rear a city.]

to exchange it for silk. (But) you came not so to purchase silk;-You
came to make proposals to me. I convoyed you through the Khi [1], As far
as Tun-khiu [2], 'It is not I,' (I said), 'who would protract the time;
But you have had no good go-between. I pray you be not angry, And let
autumn be the time.'

I ascended that ruinous wall, To look towards Fu-kwan [3]; And when I
saw (you) not (coming from) it, My tears flowed in streams. When I did
see (you coming from) Fu-kwan, I laughed and I spoke. You had consulted,
(you said), the tortoiseshell and the divining stalks, And there was
nothing unfavourable in their response [4]. 'Then come,' (I said), 'with
your carriage, And I will remove with my goods.'

BOOK VI. THE ODES OF THE ROYAL DOMAIN.

KING Wan, it has been seen, had for his capital the city of Fang, from
which his son, king Wu, moved the seat of government to Hao. In the time
of king Khang, a city was built by the duke

[1. The Khi was a famous river of Wei.

2. Tun-khiu was a well-known place--'the mound or height of Tun'-south
of the Wei.

'Fu-kwan must have been the place where the man lived, according to Ku.
Rather, it must have been a pass (Fu-kwan may mean 'the gate or pass of
Fu'), through which he would come, and was visible from near the
residence of the woman.

4 Ying ta observes that the man had never divined about the matter, and
said that he had done so only to complete the process of seduction. The
critics dwell on the inconsistency of divination being resorted to in
such a case:--'Divination is proper only if used in reference to what is
right and moral.']

of Kau, near the present Lo-yang, and called 'the eastern capital.'
Meetings of the princes of the states assembled there; but the court
continued to be held at Hao till the accession of king Phing in B.C.
770. From that time, the kings of Kau sank nearly to the level of the
princes of the states, and the poems collected in their domain were
classed among the 'Lessons of Manners from the States,' though still
distinguished by the epithet 'royal' prefixed to them.

ODE 1, STANZA 1. THE SHU-LI.

AN OFFICER DESCRIBES HIS MELANCHOLY AND REFLECTIONS ON SEEING
THE DESOLATION OF THE OLD CAPITAL OF KAU, MAKING HIS MOAN TO
HEAVEN BECAUSE OF IT.

There is no specific mention of the old. capital of Kau in the piece,
but the schools of Mao and Ku are agreed in this interpretation, which
is much more likely than any of the others that have been proposed.

There was the millet with its drooping heads; There was the sacrificial
millet coming into blade[1]. Slowly I moved about, In my heart
all-agitated. Those who knew me said I was sad at heart. Those who did
not know me, Said I was seeking for something. O thou distant and azure
Heaven[2]! By what man was this (brought about)[3]?

[1. That is, there where the ancestral temple and other grand buildings
of Hao had once stood.

2. 'He cried out to Heaven,' says Yen Zhan, 'and told (his distress),
but he calls it distant in its azure brightness, lamenting that his
complaint was not heard.' This is, probably, the correct explanation of
the language. The speaker would by it express his grief that the dynasty
of Kau and its people were abandoned and uncared for by Heaven.

3. Referring to king Yu, whose reckless course had led to the
destruction of Hao by the Zung, and in a minor degree to his son, king
Phing, who had subsequently removed to the eastern capital.]

ODE 9, STANZAS 1 AND 3. THE TA KUe.

A LADY EXCUSES HERSELF FOR NOT FLYING TO HER LOVER BY HER FEAR
OF A SEVERE AND VIRTUOUS MAGISTRATE, AND SWEARS TO HIS THAT SHE
IS SINCERE IN HER ATTACHMENT TO HIM.

His great carriage rolls along, And his robes of rank glitter like the
young sedge. Do I not think of you? But I am afraid of this officer, and
dare not (fly to you).

While living we may have to occupy different apartments; But, when dead,
we shall share the same grave. If you say that I am not sincere, By the
bright sun I swear that I am[1].

BOOK X. THE, ODES OF THANG.

THE odes of Thang were really the odes of Zin, the greatest of the fiefs
of Kau until the rise of Khin. King Khang, in B.C. 1107, invested his
younger brother, called Shu-yue, with the territory where Yao was
supposed to have ruled anciently as the marquis of Thang, in the present
department of Thai-yuean, Shan-hsi, the fief retaining that ancient name.
Subsequently the name of the state was changed to Zin, from the river
Zin in the southern part of it.

ODE, 8, STANZA 1. THE PAO YUe.

THE MEN OF ZIN, CALLED OUT TO WARFARE BY THE KING'S ORDER, MOURN
OVER THE CONSEQUENT SUFFERING OF THEIR PARENTS, AND LONG FOR
THEIR RETURN TO THEIR ORDINARY AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS, MAKING
THEIR APPEAL TO HEAVEN.

Su-su go the feathers of the wild geese, As

[1. In the 'Complete Digest' this oath is expanded in the following
way:--'These words are from my heart. If you think that they are not
sincere, there is (a Power) above, like the bright sun, observing
me;--how should my words not be sincere?']

they settle on the bushy oaks[1]. The king's affairs must not be slackly
discharged, And (so) we cannot plant our millets;--What will our parents
have to rely on? O thou distant and azure Heaven [2]! When shall we be
in our places again?

ODE 11. THE KO SHANG.

A WIFE MOURNS THE DEATH OF HER HUSBAND, REFUSING TO BE
COMFORTED, AND DECLARES THAT SHE WILL CHERISH HIS MEMORY TILL
HER OWN DEATH.

It is supposed that the husband whose death is bewailed in this piece
had died in one of the military expeditions of which duke Hsien (B.C.
676-651) was fond. It may have been so, but there is nothing in the
piece to make us think of duke Hsien. I give it a place in the volume,
not because of the religious sentiment in it, but because of the absence
of that sentiment, Where we might expect it. The lady shows the grand
virtue of a Chinese widow, in that she will never marry again. And her
grief would not be assuaged. The days would all seem long summer days,
and the nights all long winter nights; so that a hundred long years
would seem to drag their slow course, But there is not any hope
expressed of a re-union with her husband in another state. The 'abode'
and the 'chamber' of which she speaks are to be understood of his grave;
and her thoughts do not appear to go beyond it.

The dolichos grows, covering the thorn trees; The convolvulus spreads
all over the waste [3]. The

[1. Trees are not the proper. place for geese to rest on; and the
attempt to do so is productive of much noise and trouble to the birds.
The lines would seem to allude to the hardships of the soldiers' lot,
called from their homes to go on a distant expedition.

2. See note 2 on ode I of Book vi, where Heaven is appealed to in the
same language.

3. These two lines are taken as allusive, the speaker being led by the
sight of the weak plants supported by the trees, shrubs, and tombs, to
think of her own desolate, unsupported condition. But they may also be
taken as narrative, and descriptive of the battleground, where her
husband had met his death.]

man of my admiration is no more here;--With whom can I dwell? I abide alone.

The dolichos grows, covering the jujube trees; The convolvulus spreads
all over the tombs. The man of my admiration is no more here;--With whom
can I dwell? I rest alone.

How beautiful was the pillow of horn! How splendid was the embroidered
coverlet[1]! The man of my admiration is no more here;--With whom can I
dwell? Alone (I wait for) the morning.

Through the (long) days of summer, Through the (long) nights of winter
(shall I be alone), Till the lapse of a hundred years, When I shall go
home to his abode.

Through the (long) nights of winter, Through the (long) days of
summer(shall I be alone), Till the lapse of a hundred years, When I
shall go home to his chamber.

BOOK XI. THE ODES OF KHIN.

THE state of Khin took its name from its earliest principal city, in the
present district of Khing-shui, in Khin Kau, Kan-su. Its chiefs claimed
to be descended from Yi, who appears in the Shu as the forester of Shun,
and the assistant of the great Yue in his labours on the flood of Yao.
The history of his descendants is very imperfectly related till we come
to a Fei-Dze, who had charge of the herds of horses belonging to king
Hsiao (B.C. 90989.5), and in consequence of his good services. was
invested with

[1. These things had been ornaments of the bridal chamber; and as the
widow thinks of them, her grief becomes more intense.]

the small territory of Khin, as an attached state. A descendant of his,
known as duke Hsiang, in consequence of his loyal services, when the
capital was moved to the cast in B.C. 770, was raised to the dignity of
an earl, and took his place among the great feudal princes of the
kingdom, receiving also a large portion of territory, which included the
ancient capital of the House of Kau. In course of time Khin, as is well
known, superseded the dynasty of Kau, having gradually moved its capital
more and more to the east. The people of Khin were, no doubt, mainly
composed of the wild tribes of the west.

ODE 6, STANZA 1. THE HWANG NIAO.

LAMENT FOR THREE WORTHIES OF KHIN, WHO WERE BURIED IN THE SAME
GRAVE WITH DUKE MU.

There is no difficulty or difference in the interpretation of this
piece; and it brings us down to B.C. 621. Then died duke Mu, after
playing an important part in the north-west of China for thirty-nine
years. The Zo Kwan, under the sixth year of duke Wan, makes mention of
Mu's requiring that the three brothers here celebrated should be buried
with him, and of the composition of this piece in consequence. Sze-ma
Khien says that this barbarous practice began with Mu's predecessor,
with whom sixty-six persons were buried alive, and that one hundred and
seventy-seven in all were buried with Mu. The death of the last
distinguished man of the House of Khin, the emperor [1], was
subsequently celebrated by the entombment with him of all the inmates of
his harem.

They flit about, the yellow birds, And rest upon the jujube trees [1].
Who followed duke Mu in the grave? Dze-kue Yen-hsi. And this Yen-hsi Was
a man above a hundred. When he came to the

[1. It is difficult to see the relation between these two allusive lines
and the rest of the stanza. Some say that it is this,-that the people
loved the three victims as they liked the birds; others that the birds
among the trees were in their proper place,--very different from the
brothers in the grave of duke Mu.]

grave, He looked terrified and trembled. Thou azure Heaven there! Could
he have been redeemed, We would have given a hundred (ordinary) men for
him[1].

BOOK XV. THE ODES OF PIN.

DUKE Liu, an ancestor of the Kau family, made a settlement, according to
its traditions, in B.C. 1797, in Pin, the site of which is pointed out,
90 li to the west of the present district city of San-shui, in Pin Kau,
Shen-hsi, where the tribe remained till the movement eastwards of
Than-fu, celebrated in the first decade of the Major Odes of the
Kingdom, ode 3. The duke of Kau, during the minority of king Khang,
made, it is supposed, the first of the pieces in this Book, describing
for the instruction of the young monarch, the ancient ways of their
fathers in Pin; and subsequently sonic one compiled other, odes made by
the duke, and others also about him, and brought them together under the
common name of 'the Odes of Pin.'

ODE 1, STANZA 8. THE KHI YUeEH.

DESCRIBING LIFE IN PIN IN THE OLDEN TIME; THE PROVIDENT
ARRANGEMENTS THERE TO SECURE THE CONSTANT SUPPLY OF FOOD AND
RAIMENT,--WHATEVER WAS NECESSARY FOR THE SUPPORT AND COMFORT OF
THE PEOPLE.

If the piece was made, as the Chinese critics all suppose, by the duke
of Kau, we must still suppose that he writes in the person of an old
farmer or yeoman of Pin. The picture which it gives of the manners of
the Chinese people, their thrifty, provident ways, their agriculture and
weaving, nearly 3,700 years ago, is

[1. This appeal to Heaven is like what we met with in the first of the
Odes of the Royal Domain, and the eighth of those of Thang.]

full of interest; but it is not till we come to the concluding stanza
that we find anything bearing on their religious practices.

In the days of (our) second month, they hew out the ice with harmonious
blows [1]; And in those of (our) third month, they convey it to the
ice-houses, (Which they open) in those of (our) fourth, early in the
morning A lamb having been offered in sacrifice with scallions[2]. In
the ninth month, it is cold, with frost. In the tenth month, they sweep
clean their stack-sites. (Taking) the two bottles of spirits to be
offered to their ruler, And having killed their lambs and sheep, They go
to his hall, And raising

[1. They went for the ice to the deep recesses of the hills, and
wherever it was to be found in the best condition.

2.. It is said in the last chapter of 'the Great Learning,' that 'the
family which keeps its stores of ice does not rear cattle or sheep,'
meaning that the possessor of an ice-house must be supposed to be very
wealthy, and above the necessity of increasing his means in the way
described. Probably, the having ice-houses by high ministers and heads
of clans was an innovation on the earlier custom, according to which
such a distinction was proper only to the king, or the princes of
states, on whom it devolved as I the fathers of the people,' to impart
from their stores in the hot season as might be necessary. The third and
fourth lines of this stanza are to be understood of what was done by the
orders of the ruler of the tribe of Kau in Pin. In the Official Book of
Kau, Part 1, ch. 5, we have a description of the duties of 'the
Providers of Ice,' and the same subject is treated in the sixth Book of
'the Record of Rites,' sections 2 and 6. The ice having been collected
and stored in winter, the ice-houses were solemnly opened in the spring.
A sacrifice was offered to 'the Ruler of Cold, the Spirit of the Ice'
and of the first ice brought forth an offering was set out in the
apartment behind the principal hall of the ancestral temple. A sacrifice
to the same Ruler of Cold, it is said, had also been offered when the
ice began to be collected. The ceremony may be taken as an illustration
of the manner in which religious services entered into the life of the
ancient Chinese.]

the cup of rhinoceros horn, Wish him long life,--that he may live for
ever[1].

[1. The custom described in the five concluding lines is mentioned to
show the good and loyal feeling of the people of Pin towards their chief
Having finished all the agricultural labours of the year, and being now
prepared to enjoy the results of their industry, the first thing they do
is to hasten to the hall of their ruler, and ask him to share in their
joy, and express their loyal wishes for his happiness.]

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