THE charge recorded here, like that in the last Book, is assigned to king Mû. It was delivered on the appointment of a Khiung or Po-khiung (that is, the eldest Khiung, the eldest brother in his family,) to be High Chamberlain. Of this Khiung we know nothing, more than we learn from the Shû. He was no high dignitary of state. That the charge to him found a place in the Shû, we are told, shows how important it was thought that men in the lowest positions, yet coming into contact with the sovereign, should possess correct principles and an earnest desire for his progress in intelligence and virtue.
King Mû represents himself as conscious of his own incompetencies, and impressed with a sense of the high duties devolving on him. His predecessors, much superior to himself, were yet greatly indebted to the aid of the officers about them;--how much more must this be the case with him!
He proceeds to appoint Khiung to be the High Chamberlain, telling him how he should guide correctly all the other servants about the royal person, so that none but good influences should be near to act upon the king;--telling him also the manner of men whom he should employ, and the care he should exercise in the selection of them.
The king spoke to the following effect:--'Po-khiung, I come short in virtue, and have succeeded to the former kings, to occupy the great throne. I am fearful, and conscious of the peril (of my position). I rise at midnight, and think how I can avoid falling into errors. Formerly Wăn and Wû were endowed with all intelligence, august and sage, while their ministers, small and great, all cherished loyalty and goodness. Their servants, charioteers, chamberlains, and followers were all men of correctness; morning and evening waiting on their sovereign's wishes, or supplying his deficiencies. (Those kings), going out and coming in, rising up and sitting
down, were thus made reverent. Their every warning or command was good. The people yielded a reverent obedience, and the myriad regions were all happy. But I, the One man, am destitute of goodness, and really depend on the officers who have places about me to help my deficiencies, applying the line to my faults, and exhibiting my errors, thus correcting my bad heart, and enabling me to be the successor of my meritorious predecessors.
'Now I appoint you to be High Chamberlain, to see that all the officers in your department and my personal attendants are upright and correct, that they strive to promote the virtue of their sovereign, and together supply my deficiencies. Be careful in selecting your officers. Do not employ men of artful speech and insinuating looks, men whose likes and dislikes are ruled by mine, one-sided men and flatterers; but employ good men. When these household officers are correct, the sovereign will be correct; when they are flatterers, the sovereign will consider himself a sage. His virtue or his want of it equally depends on them. Cultivate no intimacy with flatterers, nor get them to do duty for me as my ears and eyes;--they will lead their sovereign to disregard the statutes of the former kings. If you choose the men not for their personal goodness, but for the sake of their bribes, their offices will be made of no effect, your great want of reverence for your sovereign will be apparent, and I will hold you guilty.'
The king said, 'Oh! be reverent! Ever help your sovereign to follow the regular laws of duty (which he should exemplify).'