KÂO ȜUNG was the title given to Wû-ting, after his death, in the ancestral temple. A supplementary sacrifice was offered on the day following the regular and more solemn service. What special idea was connected with it, it would be difficult to say;
but at the close of it, the representatives or personators of the dead in the sacrifice of the preceding day were all feasted.
The title of this short Book leaves it uncertain whether the sacrifice was offered to Wû-ting or by him. The prefatory notice proceeds on the former view. Many critics of great intelligence decide for the latter, which a renewed consideration of the text has induced me to adopt. The king then is Ȝû-kăng, Wû-ting's son. Something irregular or excessive in his sacrificing to his father was the thing which his monitor Ȝû Kî wished to censure, taking occasion to do so from the incident mentioned in the first sentence.
On the day of the supplementary sacrifice of Kâo Ȝung, there appeared a crowing pheasant 1. Ȝû Kî said, 'To rectify this affair, the king must first be corrected.' He delivered accordingly a lesson to the king, saying, 'In its inspection of men below, Heaven's first consideration is of their righteousness, and it bestows on them (accordingly) length of years or the contrary.* It is not Heaven that cuts short men's lives; they bring them to an end themselves. Some men who have not complied with virtue will yet not acknowledge their offences, and when Heaven has by evident tokens charged them to correct their conduct, they still say, "What are these things to us?"
'Oh! our Majesty's business is to care reverently for the people. And all (your ancestors) were the heirs of (the kingdom by the gift of Heaven;--in attending to the sacrifices (to them), be not so excessive in those to your father.'*
119:1 Sze-mâ Khien, after the prefatory notice, says that the pheasant sat on the ear--one of the handles--of a tripod.