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BOOK 01 THE CANON OF YÂO

1. Examining into antiquity, we find that the Tî Yâo was styled Fang-hsün. He was reverential, intelligent, accomplished, and thoughtful,--naturally and without effort. He was sincerely courteous, and capable of all complaisance. The bright influence of these qualities was felt through the four quarters of the land, and reached to heaven above and earth beneath.


He made the able and virtuous distinguished, and thence proceeded to the love of all in the nine classes of his kindred, who thus became harmonious. He also regulated and polished the people of his domain, who all became brightly intelligent. Finally, he united and harmonized the myriad states; and so the black-haired people were transformed. The result was universal concord.


2. He commanded the Hsîs and Hos, in reverent accordance with their observation of the wide heavens, to calculate and delineate the movements and appearances of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the zodiacal spaces, and so to deliver respectfully the seasons to be observed by the people.


He separately commanded the second brother Hsî to reside at Yü-î, in what was called the Bright Valley, and there respectfully to receive as a guest the rising sun, and to adjust and arrange the labours of the spring. ‘The day,’ said he, ‘is of the medium length, and the star is in Niâo;--you may thus exactly determine mid-spring. The people are dispersed in the fields, and birds and beasts breed and copulate.'


He further commanded the third brother. Hsî to reside at Nan-kiâo, in what was called the Brilliant Capital, to adjust and arrange the transformations of the summer, and respectfully to observe the exact limit of the shadow. ‘The day,’ said he, ‘is at its longest, and the star is in Hwo;--you may thus exactly determine mid-summer. The people are more dispersed; and birds and beasts have their feathers and hair thin, and change their coats.’


He separately commanded the second brother Ho to reside at the west, in what was called the Dark Valley, and there respectfully to convoy the setting sun, and to adjust and arrange the completing labours of the autumn. ‘The night' said he, ‘is of the medium length, and the star is in Hsü;--you may thus exactly determine mid-autumn. The people feel at ease, and birds and beasts have, their coats in good condition.’


He further commanded the third brother Ho to reside in the northern region, in what was called the Sombre Capital, and there to adjust and examine the changes of the winter. ‘The day,’ said he, ‘is at its shortest, and the star is in Mâo;--you may thus exactly determine mid-winter. The people, keep in their houses, and the coats of birds and beasts are downy and thick.’


The Tî said, ‘Ah! you, Hsîs and Hos, a round year consists of three hundred, sixty, and six days. Do you, by means of the intercalary month, fix the four seasons, and complete the period of the year. Thereafter, the various officers being regulated, in accordance with this, all the works of the year will be fully performed.’


3. The Tî said, ‘Who will search out for me a man according to the times, whom I can raise and employ?’ Fang-khî said, ‘Your heir-son Kû is highly intelligent.’ The Tî said, ‘Alas; he is insincere and quarrelsome:--can he do?’


The Tî said, ‘Who will search out for me a man equal to the exigency of my affairs?’ Hwan-tâu said, ‘Oh! the merits of the Minister of Works have just been displayed on a wide scale.’ The Tî said, ‘Alas! when all is quiet, he talks; but when, employed, his actions turn out differently. He is respectful only in appearance. See! the floods assail the heavens!’


The Tî said, ‘Ho! President of the Four Mountains, destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the hills and overtop the great heights, threatening the heavens with their floods, so that the lower people groan and murmur. Is there a capable man to whom I can assign the correction of this calamity?’ All in the court said, ‘Ah! is there not Khwăn?’ The Tî said, ‘Alas! how perverse is he! He is disobedient to orders, and tries to injure his peers.’ The President of the Mountains said, ‘Well but--. Try if he can accomplish the work.’ Khwăn was employed accordingly. The Tî said to him, ‘Go; and be reverent!’ For nine years he laboured, but the work was unaccomplished.


The Tî said, ‘Ho! President of the Four Mountains, I have been on the throne seventy years. You can carry out my commands;--I will resign my place to you.’ The Chief said, ‘I have not the virtue; I should disgrace your place.’ The Tî said, ‘Show me some one among the illustrious, or set forth one from among the poor and mean.’ All then said to the Tî, ‘There is an unmarried man among the lower people, called Shun of Yü.’ The Tî said, ‘Yes, I have heard of him. What have you to say about him?’ The Chief said, ‘He is the son of a blind man. His father was obstinately unprincipled; his step-mother was insincere; his half-brother Hsiang was arrogant. He has been able however, by his filial piety to live in harmony with them, and to lead them gradually to self-government, so that they no longer proceed to great wickedness.’ The Tî said, ‘I will try him; I will wive him, and thereby see his behaviour with my two daughters.’ Accordingly he arranged and sent down his two daughters to the north of the Kwei, to be wives in the family of Yü. The Tî said to them, ‘Be reverent!’

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