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Chinese Text Project
Simplified Chinese version

《说命》

Books referencing 《说命》 Library Resources
说命上:
高宗梦得说,使百工营求诸野,得诸傅岩,作《说命》三篇。

1 说命上:
王宅忧,亮阴三祀。既免丧,其惟弗言,群臣咸谏于王曰:“呜呼!知之曰明哲,明哲实作则。天子惟君万邦,百官承式,王言惟作命,不言臣下罔攸禀令。”
Charge to Yue I:
The king passed the season of sorrow in the mourning shed for three years, and when the period of mourning was over, he (still) did not speak (to give any commands). All the ministers remonstrated with him, saying, 'Oh! him who is (the first) to apprehend we pronounce intelligent, and the intelligent man is the model for others. The Son of Heaven rules over the myriad regions, and all the officers look up to and reverence him. They are the king's words which form the commands (for them). If he do not speak, the ministers have no way to receive their orders.'

2 说命上:
王庸作书以诰曰:“以台正于四方,惟恐德弗类,兹故弗言。恭默思道,梦帝赉予良弼,其代予言。”乃审厥象,俾以形旁求于天下。说筑傅岩之野,惟肖。爰立作相。王置诸其左右。
Charge to Yue I:
On this the king made a writing, for their information, to the following effect: 'As it is mine to serve as the director for the four quarters (of the kingdom), I have been afraid that my virtue is not equal to (that of my predecessors), and therefore have not spoken. (But) while I was reverently and silently thinking of the (right) way, I dreamt that God gave me a good assistant who should speak for me.' He then minutely recalled the appearance (of the person whom he had seen), and caused search to be made for him everywhere by means of a picture. Yue, a builder in the wild country of Fu-yan, was found like to it. On this the king raised and made (Yue) his prime minister, keeping him (also) at his side.

3 说命上:
命之曰:“朝夕纳诲,以辅台德。若金,用汝作砺;若济巨川,用汝作舟楫;若岁大旱,用汝作霖雨。启乃心,沃朕心,若药弗瞑眩,厥疾弗瘳;若跣弗视地,厥足用伤。惟暨乃僚,罔不同心,以匡乃辟。俾率先王,迪我高后,以康兆民。呜呼!钦予时命,其惟有终。”
Charge to Yue I:
He charged him, saying, 'Morning and evening present your instructions to aid my virtue. Suppose me a weapon of steel; I will use you for a whetstone. Suppose me crossing a great stream; I will use you for a boat with its oars. Suppose me in a year of great drought; I will use you as a copious rain. Open your mind, and enrich my mind. (Be you) like medicine, which must distress the patient, in order to cure his sickness. (Think of we) as one walking barefoot, whose feet are sure to be wounded, if he do not see the ground. Do you and your companions all cherish the same mind to assist your sovereign, that I may follow my royal predecessors, and tread in the steps of my high ancestor, to give repose to the millions of the people. Oh! respect this charge of mine; so shall you bring your work to a (good) end.'

4 说命上:
说复于王曰:“惟木从绳则正,后从谏则圣。后克圣,臣不命其承,畴敢不祗若王之休命?”
Charge to Yue I:
Yue replied to the king, saying, 'Wood by the use of the line is made straight, and the sovereign who follows reproof is made sage. When the sovereign can (thus) make himself sage, his ministers, without being specially commanded, anticipate his orders - who would dare not to act in respectful compliance with this excellent charge of your Majesty?'

5 说命中:
惟说命总百官,乃进于王曰:“呜呼!明王奉若天道,建邦设都,树后王君公,承以大夫师长,不惟逸豫,惟以乱民。惟天聪明,惟圣时宪,惟臣钦若,惟民从乂。惟口起羞,惟甲胄起戎,惟衣裳在笥,惟干戈省厥躬。王惟戒兹,允兹克明,乃罔不休。惟治乱在庶官。官不及私昵,惟其能;爵罔及恶德,惟其贤。虑善以动,动惟厥时。有其善,丧厥善;矜其能,丧厥功。惟事事,乃其有备,有备无患。无启宠纳侮,无耻过作非。惟厥攸居,政事惟醇。黩予祭祀,时谓弗钦。礼烦则乱,事神则难。”
Charge to Yue II:
Yue having received his charge, and taken the presidency of all the officers, he presented himself before the king, and said, 'Oh! intelligent kings act in reverent accordance with the ways of Heaven. The founding of states and the setting up of capitals, the appointing of sovereign kings, of dukes and other nobles, with their great officers and heads of departments, were not designed to minister to the idleness and pleasures (of one), but for the good government of the people. It is Heaven which is all-intelligent and observing - let the sage (king) take it as his pattern. Then his ministers will reverently accord with him, and the people consequently will be well governed.
'It is the mouth that gives occasion for shame; they are the coat of mail and helmet that give occasion to war. The upper robes and lower garments (for reward should not be lightly taken from) their chests; before spear and shield are used, one should examine himself. If your Majesty will be cautious in regard to these things, and, believing this about them, attain to the intelligent use of them, (your government) will in everything be excellent. Good government and bad depend on the various officers. Offices should not be given to men because they are favourites, but only to men of ability. Dignities should not be conferred on men of evil practices, but only on men of worth.
'Anxious thought about what will be best should precede your movements, which also should be taken at the time proper for them. Indulging the consciousness of being good is the way to lose that goodness; being vain of one's ability is the way to lose the merit it might produce.
'For all affairs let there be adequate preparation; with preparation there will be no calamitous issue. Do not open the door for favourites, from whom you will receive contempt. Do not be ashamed of mistakes, and (go on to) make them crimes. Let your mind rest in its proper objects, and the affairs of your government will be pure. Officiousness in sacrificing is called irreverence; and multiplying ceremonies leads to disorder. To serve the spirits acceptably (in this way) is difficult.'

6 说命中:
王曰:“旨哉!说。乃言惟服。乃不良于言,予罔闻于行。”说拜稽首曰:“非知之艰,行之惟艰。王忱不艰,允协于先王成德,惟说不言有厥咎。”
Charge to Yue II:
The king said, 'Excellent! your words, O Yue, should indeed be put in practice (by me). If you were not so good in counsel, I should not have heard these rules for my conduct." Yue did obeisance with his head to the ground, and said, 'It is not the knowing that is difficult, but the doing. (But) since your Majesty truly knows this, there will not be the difficulty, and you will become really equal in complete virtue to our first king. Wherein I, Yue, refrain from speaking (what I ought to speak), the blame will rest with me.'

7 说命下:
王曰:“来!汝说。台小子旧学于甘盘,既乃遯于荒野,入宅于河。自河徂亳,暨厥终罔显。尔惟训于朕志,若作酒醴,尔惟麴蘖;若作和羹,尔惟盐梅。尔交修予,罔予弃,予惟克迈乃训。”
Charge to Yue III:
The king said, 'Come, O Yue. I, the little one, first learned with Gan Pan. Afterwards I lived concealed among the rude countrymen, and then I went to (the country) inside the He, and lived there. From the He I went to Bo; and the result has been that I am unenlightened. Do you teach me what should be my aims. Be to me as the yeast and the malt in making sweet spirits, as the salt and the prunes in making agreeable soup. Use various methods to cultivate me; do not cast me away - so shall I attain to practise your instructions.'

8 说命下:
说曰:“王,人求多闻,时惟建事,学于古训乃有获。事不师古,以克永世,匪说攸闻。惟学,逊志务时敏,厥修乃来。允怀于兹,道积于厥躬。惟斆学半,念终始典于学,厥德修罔觉。监于先王成宪,其永无愆。惟说式克钦承,旁招俊乂,列于庶位。”
Charge to Yue III:
Yue said, 'O king, a ruler should seek to learn much (from his ministers), with a view to establish his affairs; but to learn the lessons of the ancients is the way to attain this. That the affairs of one, not making the ancients his masters, can be perpetuated for generations, is what I have not heard. In learning there should be a humble mind and the maintenance of a constant earnestness; in such a case (the learner's) improvement will surely come. He who sincerely cherishes these things will find all truth accumulating in his person. Teaching is the half of learning; when a man's thoughts from first to last are constantly fixed on learning, his virtuous cultivation comes unperceived. Survey the perfect pattern of our first king - so shall you for ever be preserved from error. Then shall I be able reverently to meet your views, and on every side to look out for men of eminence to place in the various offices.'

9 说命下:
王曰:“呜呼!说,四海之内,咸仰朕德,时乃风。股肱惟人,良臣惟圣。昔先正保衡作我先王,乃曰:‘予弗克俾厥后惟尧舜,其心愧耻,若挞于市。’一夫不获,则曰时予之辜。佑我烈祖,格于皇天。尔尚明保予,罔俾阿衡专美有商。惟后非贤不乂,惟贤非后不食。其尔克绍乃辟于先王,永绥民。”
Charge to Yue III:
The king said, 'Oh! Yue, that all within the four seas look up to my virtue is owing to you. As his legs and arms form the man, so does a good minister form the sage (king). Formerly, there was the first premier of our dynasty, Bao-heng, who raised up and formed its royal founder. He said, "If I cannot make my sovereign like Yao or Shun, I shall feel ashamed in my heart, as if I were beaten in the market-place." If any common man did not get (all he should desire), he said, "It is my fault." (Thus) he assisted my meritorious ancestor, so that he became equal to great Heaven. Do you give your intelligent and preserving aid to me, and let not A-heng engross all the good service to the House of Shang. The sovereign should share his government with none but worthy officers. The worthy officer should accept his support from none but the proper sovereign. May you now succeed in making your sovereign a (true) successor of the founder of his line, and in securing the lasting happiness of the people!'

10 说命下:
说拜稽首曰:“敢对扬天子之休命。”
Charge to Yue III:
Yue did obeisance with his head to the ground, and said, 'I will venture to respond to. and display abroad, your Majesty's excellent charge.'

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