The sixth ode in the seventh decade of the Minor Odes of the Kingdom is attributed to the same duke of Wei as this; and the two bear traces of having proceeded from the same writer. The external authorities for assigning this piece to duke Wû are the statement of the preface and an article in the 'Narratives of the States,' a work already referred to as belonging to the period of the Kâu dynasty. That article relates how Wû, at the age of ninety-five, insisted on all his ministers and officers being instant, in season and out of season, to admonish him on his conduct, and that 'he made the warnings in the Î to admonish himself.' The Î is understood to be only another name for this Yî. Thus the speaker throughout the piece is Wû, and 'the young Son,' whom he sometimes addresses, is himself also. The conception of the writer in taking such a method to admonish himself, and give forth the lessons of his long life, is very remarkable; and the execution of it is successful.
Outward demeanour, cautious and grave, Is an indication of the (inward) virtue. People have the saying, 'There is no wise man who is not (also) stupid.' The stupidity of the ordinary man Is determined by his (natural) defects. The stupidity of the wise man Is from his doing violence (to his proper character).
What is most powerful is the being the man 1;--
[paragraph continues] In all quarters (of the state) men are influenced by it. To an upright virtuous conduct All in the four quarters of the state render obedient homage. With great counsels and determinate orders, With far-reaching plans and timely announcements, And with reverent care of his outward demeanour, One will become the pattern of the people.
As for the circumstances of the present time, You are bent on error and confusion in your government. Your virtue is subverted; You are besotted by drink 1. Although you thus pursue nothing but pleasure, How is it you do not think of your relation to the past, And do not widely study the former kings, That you might hold fast their wise laws?
Shall not those whom great Heaven does not approve of, Surely as the waters flow from a spring, Sink down together in ruin? Rise early and go to bed late, Sprinkle and sweep your courtyard;--So as to be a pattern to the people 2. Have in good order your chariots and horses, Your bows and arrows, and (other) weapons of war;--To be prepared for warlike action, To keep at a distance (the hordes of) the south.
Perfect what concerns your officers and people;
[paragraph continues] Be careful of your duties as a prince (of the kingdom). To be prepared for unforeseen dangers, Be cautious of what you say; Be reverentially careful of your outward behaviour; In all things be mild and correct. A flaw in a mace of white jade May be ground away; But for a flaw in speech Nothing can be done.
Do not speak lightly; your words are your own 1. Do not say, 'This is of little importance; No one can hold my tongue for me.' Words are not to be cast away. Every word finds its answer; Every good deed has its recompense. If you are gracious among your friends, And to the people, as if they were you: children, Your descendants will continue in unbroken line, And all the people will surely be obedient to you.
Looked at in friendly intercourse with superior men, You make your countenance harmonious and mild; Anxious not to do anything wrong. Looked at in your chamber, You ought to be equally free from shame before the light which shines in. Do not say, 'This place is not public; No one can see me here.' The approaches of spiritual beings Cannot be calculated beforehand; But the more should they not be slighted 2.
O prince, let your practice of virtue Be entirely good and admirable. Watch well over your behaviour, And allow nothing wrong in your demeanour. Committing no excess, doing nothing injurious, There are few who will not in such a case take you for their pattern. When one throws to me a peach, I return to him a plum 1. To look for horns on a young ram Will only weary you, my son 2.
The tough and elastic wood Can be fitted with the silken string 3. The mild and respectful man Possesses the foundation of virtue. There is a wise man;--I tell him good words, And he yields to them the practice of docile virtue. There is a stupid man;--He says on the contrary that my words are not true:--So different are people's minds.
Oh! my son, When you did not know what was good, and what was not good, Not only did I lead you by the hand, But I showed the difference between them by appealing to instances. Not (only) did I charge you face to face, But I held you by the ear 4. And still perhaps you do not know, Although you have held a son in your arms. If people be not self-sufficient, Who comes to a late maturity after early instruction?
Great Heaven is very intelligent, And I pass,
my life without pleasure. When I see you so dark and stupid, My heart is full of pain. I taught you with assiduous repetition, And you listened to me with contempt. You would not consider me as your teacher, But regarded me as troublesome. Still perhaps you do not know;--But you are very old.
Oh! my son, I have told you the old ways. Hear and follow my counsels:--Then shall you have no cause for great regret. Heaven is now inflicting calamities, And is destroying the state. My illustrations are not taken from things remote:--Great Heaven makes no mistakes. If you go on to deteriorate in your virtue, You will bring the people to great distress.
413:1 Wû writes as the marquis of Wei, the ruler of a state; but what he says is susceptible of universal application. In every smaller sphere, and in the largest, 'being the man,' displaying, that is, the proper qualities of humanity, will be appreciated and felt.
414:1 Han Ying (who has been mentioned in the Introduction) says that Wû made the sixth ode of the seventh decade of the former Part against drunkenness, when he was repenting of his own giving way to that vice. His mention of the habit here, at the age of ninety-five, must be understood as a warning to other rulers.
414:2 Line 3 describes things important to the cultivation of one's self; and line 4, things important to the regulation of one's family. They may seem unimportant, it is said,. as compared with the defence of the state, spoken of in the last four lines of the stanza; but the ruler ought not to neglect them.
415:1 And therefore every one is himself responsible for his words.
415:2 Kû Hsî says that from the fourth line this stanza only speaks of the constant care there should be in watching over one's thoughts; but in saying so, be overlooks the consideration by which such watchful care is enforced. Compare what is said of king Wăn in the third stanza of the sixth ode of the first decade. King Wăn and duke Wû were both influenced by the consideration that their inmost thoughts, even when 'unseen by men,' were open to the inspection of spiritual beings.
416:1 That is, every deed, in fact, meets with its recompense.
416:2 See the conclusion of duke Wû's ode against drunkenness. Horns grow as the young ram grows. Effects must not be expected where there have not been the conditions from which they naturally spring.
416:3 Such wood is the proper material for a bow.
416:4 That is, to secure your attention.