Examining into antiquity, (we find that) the Di Shun was styled Chong-hua. His character was entirely conformed to (that of) the (former) Di, he was profound, wise, accomplished, and intelligent. He was mild and courteous, and truly sincere. The report of his mysterious virtue was heard on high, and he was appointed to office.
(Shun) carefully set forth the beauty of the five cardinal duties, and they came to be (universally) observed. Being appointed to be General Regulator, the affairs of every (official) department were arranged in their proper seasons. (Being charged) to receive (the princes) from the four quarters of the land, they were all docilely submissive. Being sent to the great plains at the foot of the mountains, notwithstanding the tempests of wind, thunder, and rain, he did not go astray. The Di said, ‘Come, you Shun. I have consulted you on (all) affairs, and examined your words, and found that they can be carried into practice – (now) for three years. Do you ascend the seat of the Di.’ Shun wished to decline in favour of some one more virtuous, and not to consent to be (Yao’s) successor. On the first day of the first month, (however), he received (Yao’s) retirement (from his duties) in the temple of the Accomplished Ancestor.
He examined the pearl-adorned turning sphere, with its transverse tube of jade, and reduced to a harmonious system (the movements of) the Seven Directors. Thereafter, he sacrificed specially, but with the ordinary forms, to God; sacrificed with reverent purity to the Six Honoured Ones; offered their appropriate sacrifices to the hills and rivers; and extended his worship to the host of spirits. He called in (all) the five jade-symbols of rank; and when the month was over, he gave daily audience to (the President of) the Four Mountains, and all the Pastors, (finally) returning their symbols to the various princes.
In the second month of the year he made a tour of inspection eastwards, as far as Dai-zong, where he presented a burnt-offering to Heaven, and sacrificed in order to the hills and rivers. Thereafter he gave audience to the princes of the east. He set in accord their seasons and months, and regulated the days; he made uniform the standard-tubes, with the measures of length and of capacity, and the steelyards, he regulated the five (classes of) ceremonies, with (the various) articles of introduction – the five symbols of jade, the three kinds of silk, the two living (animals) and the one dead one. As to the five instruments of rank, when all was over, he returned them. In the fifth month he made a similar tour southwards, as far as the mountain of the south, where he observed the same ceremonies as at Dai. In the eighth month he made a tour westwards, as far as the mountain of the west, where he did as before. In the eleventh month he made a tour northwards, as far as the mountain of the north’, where he observed the same ceremonies as in the west. He (then) returned (to the capital), went to (the temple of) the Cultivated Ancestor, and sacrificed a single bull. In five years there was one tour of inspection, and there were four appearances of the princes at court. They gave a report (of their government) in words, which was clearly tested by their works. They received chariots and robes according to their merits.
He instituted the division (of the land) into twelve provinces, raising altars upon twelve hills in them. He (also) deepened the rivers.
He exhibited (to the people) the statutory punishments, enacting banishment as a mitigation of the five (great) inflictions; with the whip to be employed in the magistrates’ courts, the stick to be employed in schools, and money to be received for redeemable offences. Inadvertent offences and those which could be ascribed to misfortune were to be pardoned, but those who transgressed presumptuously and repeatedly were to be punished with death. ‘Let me be reverent! Let me be reverent!’ (he said to himself.) ‘Let compassion rule in punishment!’ He banished the Minister of Works to You island; confined Huan-dou on mount Chong; drove (the chief of) San-miao (and his people) into San-wei, and kept them there; and held Gun a prisoner till death on mount Yu. These four criminals being thus dealt with, all under heaven acknowledged the justice (of Shun’s administration).
After twenty-eight years the Di deceased, when the people mourned for him as for a parent for three years. Within the four seas all the eight kinds of instruments of music were stopped and hushed.
On the first day of the first month (of the) next year, Shun went to (the temple of) the Accomplished Ancestor. He deliberated with (the President of) the Four Mountains how to throw open the doors (of communication between himself and the) four (quarters of the land), and how he could see with the eyes, and hear with the ears of all. He consulted with the twelve Pastors, and said to them, ‘The food!–it depends on observing the seasons. Be kind to the distant, and cultivate the ability of the near. Give honour to the virtuous, and your confidence to the good, while you discountenance the artful – so shall the barbarous tribes lead on one another to make their submission.’
Shun said, ‘Ho! (President of) the Four Mountains, is there any one who can with vigorous service attend to all the affairs of the Di, whom I may appoint to be General Regulator, to assist me in (all) affairs, managing each department according to its nature?’ All (in the court) replied, ‘There is Bo-Yu, the Minister of Works.’ The Di said, ‘Yes. Ho! Yu, you have regulated the water and the land. In this (new office) exert yourself.’ Yu did obeisance with his head to the ground, and wished to decline in favour of the Minister of Agriculture, or Xie, or Gao-Yao. The Di said, ‘Yes, but do you go (and undertake the duties).’
The Di said, ‘Qi, the black-haired people are (still) suffering from famine. Do you, O prince, as Minister of Agriculture, (continue to) sow (for them) the various kinds of grain.’
The Di said, ‘Xie, the people are (still) wanting in affection for one another, and do not docilely, observe the five orders of relationship. It is yours, as the Minister of Instruction, reverently, to set forth the lessons of duty belonging to those five orders. Do so with gentleness.’
The Di said, ‘Gao-Yao, the barbarous tribes trouble our great land. There are (also) robbers, murderers, insurgents, and traitors. It is yours, as the Minister of Crime, to use the five punishments to deal with their offences. For the infliction of these there are the three appointed places. There are the five cases in which banishment in the appropriate places is to be resorted to, to which places, though five, three localities are assigned. Perform your duties with intelligence, and you will secure a sincere (submission).’
The Di said, ‘Who can superintend my works, as they severally require?’ All (in the court) replied, ‘Is there not Chui?’ The Di said, ‘Yes. Ho! Chui, you must be Minister of Works.’ Chui did obeisance with his head to the ground, and wished to decline in favour of Shu, Qiang, or Bo-Yu. The Di said, ‘Yes, but do you go (and undertake the duties). Effect a harmony (in all the departments).’
The Di said, ‘Who can superintend, as the nature of the charge requires, the grass and trees, with the birds and beasts on my hills and in my marshes?’ All (in the court) replied, ‘Is there not Yi?’ The Di said, ‘Yes. Ho! Yi do you be my Forester.’ Yi did obeisance with his head to the ground, and wished to decline in favour of Zhu, Hu, Xiong, or Pi. The Di said, ‘Yes, but do you go (and undertake the duties). You must manage them harmoniously.’
The Di said, ‘Ho! (President of the) Four Mountains, is there any one able to direct my three (religious) ceremonies?’ All (In the court) answered, ‘Is there not Bo-yi?’ The Di said, ‘Yes. Ho! Bo, you must be the Arranger in the Ancestral Temple. Morning and night be reverent. Be upright, be pure.’ Bo did obeisance with his head to the ground, and wished to decline in favour of Kui or Long. The Di said, ‘Yes, but do you go (and undertake the duties). Be reverential!’
The Di said, ‘Kui, I appoint you to be Director of Music, and to teach our sons, so that the straightforward shall yet be mild; the gentle, dignified: the strong, not tyrannical: and the impetuous, not arrogant. Poetry is the expression of earnest thought; singing is the prolonged utterance of that expression; the notes accompany that utterance, and they are harmonized themselves by the standard tubes. (In this way) the eight different kinds of musical instruments can be adjusted so that one shall not take from or interfere with another; and spirits and men are brought into harmony.’ Kui said, ‘I smite the (sounding-) stone, I gently strike it, and the various animals lead on one another to dance.’
The Di said, ‘Long, I abominate slanderous speakers and destroyers of the (right) ways, who agitate and alarm my people. I appoint you to be the Minister of Communication. Early and late give forth my orders and report to me, seeing that everything is true.’
The Di said, ‘Ho! you, twenty and two men, be reverent; so shall you be helpful to the business (entrusted to me by) Heaven.’
Every three years there was an examination of merits, and after three examinations the undeserving were degraded, and the deserving advanced. (By this arrangement) the duties of all the departments were fully discharged; the (people of) San-miao (also) were discriminated and separated.
In the thirtieth year of his age, Shun was called to employment. Thirty years he was on the throne (with Yao). Fifty years afterwards he went on high and died.
From Shangshu – The Book of History
English translation: James Legge