The duke of Shâo was the famous Shih, who appears in the fifth and other Books of the fifth Part of the Shû, the colleague of the duke of Kâu in the early days of the Kâu dynasty. This piece may have been composed by him, but there is no evidence in it that it was so. The assigning it to him rests entirely on the authority of the preface. The language, however, is that in which an old statesman of that time might express his complacency in his young sovereign.
Into the recesses of the large mound Came the wind, whirling from the south. There was (our) happy, courteous sovereign, Rambling and singing; And I took occasion to give forth my notes.
'Full of spirits you ramble; Full of satisfaction you rest. O happy and courteous sovereign, May you fulfil your years, And end them like your ancestors!'
'Your territory is great and glorious, And perfectly
secure. O happy and courteous sovereign, May you fulfil your years, As the host of all the spirits 1!
'You have received the appointment long acknowledged, With peace around your happiness and dignity. O happy and courteous sovereign, May you fulfil your years, With pure happiness your constant possession!
'You have helpers and supporters, Men of filial piety and of virtue, To lead you on, and act as wings to you, (So that), O happy and courteous sovereign, You are a pattern to the four quarters (of the kingdom).
'Full of dignity and majesty (are they), Like a
jade-mace(in its purity), The subject of praise, the contemplation of hope. O happy and courteous sovereign, (Through them) the four quarters (of the kingdom) are guided by you.
'The male and female phœnix fly about 1, Their wings rustling, While they settle in their proper resting-place. Many are your admirable officers, O king, Ready to be employed by you, Loving you, the Son of Heaven.
'The male and female phœnix fly about, Their wings rustling, As they soar up to heaven. Many are your admirable officers, O king, Waiting for your commands, And loving the multitudes of the people, The male and female phœnix give out their notes, On that lofty ridge. The dryandras grow, On those eastern slopes. They grow luxuriantly; And harmoniously the notes resound.
'Your chariots, O sovereign, Are numerous, many. Your horses, O sovereign, Are well trained and fleet. I have made my few verses, In prolongation of your song.'
405:1 'Host of the hundred--i.e., of all--the spirits' is one of the titles of the sovereign of China. It was and is his prerogative to offer the great 'border sacrifices' to Heaven and Earth, or, as Confucius explains. them, to God, and to the spirits of his ancestors in his ancestral temple; and in his progresses (now neglected), among the states, to the spirits of the hills and 'rivers throughout the kingdom. Every feudal prince could only sacrifice to the hills and streams within his own territory. Under the changed conditions of the government of China, the sacrificial ritual of the emperor still retains the substance of whatever belonged to the sovereigns in this respect from the earliest dynasties. On the text here, Khung Ying-tâ of the Thang dynasty said, 'He who possesses all under the sky, sacrifices to all the spirits, and thus he is the host of them all.' Kû Hsî said on it, 'And always be the host of (the spirits of) Heaven and Earth, of the hills and rivers, and of the departed.' The term 'host' does not imply any superiority of rank on the part of the entertainer. In the greatest sacrifices the emperor acknowledges himself as 'the servant or subject of Heaven.' See the prayer of the first of the present Manchâu line of emperors, in announcing that he had ascended the throne, at the altar of Heaven and Earth, in 1644, as translated by the Rev. Dr. Edkins in the chapter on Imperial Worship, in the recent edition of his 'Religion in China.'
406:1 The phœnix (so the creature has been named) is a fabulous bird, 'the chief of the 360 classes of the winged tribes.' It is mentioned in the fourth Book of the second Part of the Shû, as appearing in the courtyard of Shun; and the appearance of a pair of them has always been understood to denote a sage on the throne and prosperity in the country. Even Confucius (Analects, IX, viii) could not express his hopelessness about his own times more strongly than by saying that 'the phœnix did not make its appearance.' He was himself also called 'a phœnix,' in derision, by one of the recluses of his time (Analects, XVIII, v). The type of' the bird was, perhaps, the Argus pheasant, but the descriptions of it are of a monstrous creature, having' a fowl's head, a swallow's chin, a serpent's neck, a fish's tail,' &c. It only lights on the dryandra cordifolia, of which tree also many marvellous stories are related. The poet is not to be understood as saying that the phœnix actually appeared; but that the king was Age and his government prosperous, as if it had appeared.