ACCORDING to the note in the Preface to the Shû, the charge delivered in this Book to Kün-yâ, or possibly 'the prince Yâ,' was by king Mû; and its dictum is not challenged by any Chinese critic. The reign of king Khâo, who succeeded to Khang, is thus passed over in the documents of the Shû. Mû was the son and successor of Khâo, and reigned from B.C. 1001 to 947.
Kün-yâ's surname is not known. He is here appointed to be Minister of Instruction, and as it is intimated that his father and grandfather had been in the same office, it is conjectured that he was the grandson of the earl of Zui, who was Minister of Instruction at the beginning of the reign of king Khang.
The Book is short, speaking of the duties of the office, and stimulating Yâ to the discharge of them by considerations drawn from the merits of his forefathers, and the services which he would render to the dynasty and his sovereign.
1. The king spoke to the following effect: 'Oh! Kün-yâ, your grandfather and your father, one after the other, with a true loyalty and honesty, laboured in the service of the royal House, accomplishing a merit that was recorded on the grand banner 1. I, the little child, have become charged by inheritance with the line of government transmitted from Wăn and Wû, from Khăng and Khang; I also keep thinking of their ministers who aided them in the good government of the kingdom; the trembling anxiety of my mind makes me feel as if I were treading on a tiger's tail, or walking upon spring ice. I now give you charge to assist me;
be as my limbs to me, as my heart and backbone. Continue their old service, and do not disgrace your grandfather and father.
'Diffuse widely (the knowledge of) the five invariable relations (of society), and reverently seek to produce a harmonious observance of the duties belonging to them among the people. If you are correct in your own person, none will dare to be but correct. The minds of the people cannot attain to the right mean (of duty);--they must be guided by your attaining to it. In the heat and rains of summer, the inferior people may be described as murmuring and sighing. And so it is with them in the great cold of winter. How great are their hardships! Think of their hardships in order to seek to promote their ease; and the people will be tranquil. Oh! how great and splendid were the plans of king Wăn! How greatly were they carried out by the energy of king Wû! All in principle correct, and deficient in nothing, they are for the help and guidance of us their descendants. Do you with reverence and wisdom carry out your instructions, enabling me to honour and follow the example of my (immediate) predecessors, and to respond to and display the bright decree conferred on Wăn and Wû;--so shall you be the mate of your by-gone fathers.'
2. The king spoke to the following effect: 'Kün-yâ, do you take for your rule the lessons afforded by the courses of your excellent fathers. The good or the bad order of the people depends on this. You will thus follow the practice of your grandfather and father, and make the good government of your sovereign illustrious.'
250:1 The grand banner was borne aloft when the king went to sacrifice. There were figures of the sun and moon on it, and dragons lying along its breadth, one over the other, head above tail. The names of meritorious ministers were inscribed on it during their lifetime, preparatory to their sharing in the sacrifices of the ancestral temple after their death.