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He who loves his parents will not dare (to incur the risk of) being hated by any man, and he who reveres his parents will not dare (to incur the risk of) being contemned by any man 2. When the love and reverence (of the Son of Heaven) are thus carried to the utmost in the service of his parents, the lessons of his virtue affect all the people, and he becomes

p. 468

a pattern to (all within) the four seas 1:--this is the filial piety of the Son of Heaven 2.

It is said in (the Marquis of) Fû on Punishments 3,

'The One man will have felicity, and the millions of the People will depend on (what ensures his happiness).'


467:2 The thing thus generally stated must be understood specially of the sovereign, and only he who stands related to all other men can give its full manifestation. Previous translators have missed the peculiarity of the construction in each of the clauses. Thus P. Cibot gives:--'He who loves his parents will not dare to hate any one,' &c. But in the second member we have a well-known form in Chinese to give the force of the passive voice. Attention is called to this in the Extensive Explanation of the Hsiâo (see p. 461):--'Wû yü zăn does not mean merely to hate men; it indicates an anxious apprehension lest the hatred of men should light on me, and my parents thereby be involved in it.'

468:1 Chinese scholars make 'the people' to be the subjects of the king, and 'all within the four seas' to be the barbarous tribes outside the four borders of the kingdom, between them and the seas or oceans within which the habitable earth was contained--according to the earliest geographical conceptions. All we have to find in the language is the unbounded, the universal, influence of 'the Son of Heaven.'

468:2 The appellation 'Son of Heaven' for the sovereign was unknown in the earliest times of the Chinese nation. It cannot be traced beyond the Shang dynasty.

468:3 See the Shû, V, xxvii, 4, and the note on the name of that Book, p. 254.

Next: Chapter III. Filial Piety in the Princes of States