SHANG was the name under which the dynasty that superseded Hsiâ (B.C. 1766) held the kingdom for fully 300 years. Yin then began to be used as well as Shang, and the dynasty was called indifferently Shang or Yin, and sometimes Yin-Shang by a combination of the two names. The ruling House traced its origin into the remote times of antiquity, through Hsieh, whose appointment by Shun to be Minister of Instruction is related in the Canon of Shun. For his services Hsieh was invested with the principality of Shang, corresponding to the present small department of the same name in Shen-hsî. From Hsieh to Thang, the founder of the dynasty, there are reckoned fourteen generations, and we find Thang, when he first becomes prominent in history, a long way from the ancestral fief, in 'the southern Po,' corresponding to the present district of Shang-khiû, department Kwei-teh, Ho-nan. The tide of the dynasty, however, was derived from the original Shang.
There were in the Shû, when the collection was formed, thirty-one documents of Shang in forty Books, of which only eleven remain in seventeen Books, two of them containing each three parts or sections. The Speech of Thang, that is now the first Book in the Part, was originally only the sixth. Thang was the destination of the hero whose surname, dating from Hsieh, was Ȝze, and name Lî. Thang may be translated, 'the Glorious One.' His common style in history is as Khăng Thang, 'Thang the Completer,' or 'Thang the Successful.'
He had summoned his people to take the field with him against Kieh, the cruel and doomed sovereign of Hsiâ, and finding them backward to the enterprise, he sets forth in this Book his reasons for attacking the tyrant, argues against their reluctance, using in the end both promises and threats to induce them to obey his orders.
The king said, 'Come, ye multitudes of the people., listen all to my words. It is not I, the little child 1, who dare to undertake a rebellious enterprise; but for the many crimes of the sovereign of Hsiâ, Heaven has given the charge to destroy him.*
'Now, ye multitudes, you are saying, "Our prince does not compassionate us, but (is calling us) away from our husbandry to attack and punish Hsiâ." I have indeed heard (these) words of you all; (but) the sovereign of Hsiâ is guilty, and. as I fear God, I dare not but punish him.*
'Now you are saying, "What are the crimes of Hsiâ to us?" The king of Hsiâ in every way exhausts the strength of his people, and exercises oppression in the cities of Hsiâ. His multitudes are become entirely indifferent (to his service), and feel no bond of union'(to him). They are saying, "When wilt thou, O sun, expire? We will all perish with thee 2." Such is the course of (the sovereign) of Hsiâ, and now I must go (and punish him).
Assist, I pray you, me, the One man, to carry out the punishment appointed by Heaven. I will greatly reward you. On no account disbelieve me;--will not eat my words. If you do not obey the words which I have thus spoken to you, I will put
your children to death with you;--you shall find no forgiveness.'
85:1 'The little child' is a designation used humbly of themselves by the kings of Shang and Kâu. It is given also to them and others by such great ministers as Î Yin and the duke of Kâu.
85:2 Kieh, it is said, had on one occasion, when told of the danger he was incurring by his cruelties, pointed to the sun, and said that as surely as the sun was in the heavens, so firm was he on the throne.