Heaven, in giving birth to the multitudes of the people, To every faculty and relationship annexed its law. The people possess this normal nature, And they (consequently) love its normal virtue 1. Heaven beheld the ruler of Kâu, Brilliantly affecting it by his conduct below, And to maintain him, its Son, Gave birth to Kung Shan-fû 2.
Kung Shan-fû went forth, having sacrificed to the spirit of the road 3. His four steeds were strong;
[paragraph continues] His men were alert, He was always anxious lest he should not be equal to his commission; His steeds went on without stopping, To the tinkling of their eight bells. The king had given charge to Kung Shan-fû, To fortify the city there in the east.
425:1 We get an idea of the meaning which has been attached to these four lines from a very early time by Mencius' quotation of them (VI, i, ch. 6) in support of his doctrine of the goodness of human nature, and the remark on the piece which he attributes to Confucius, that 'the maker of it knew indeed the constitution (of our nature).' Every faculty, bodily or mental, has its function to fulfil, and every relationship its duty to be discharged. The function and the duty are the things which the human being has to observe:--the seeing clearly, for instance, with the eyes, and bearing distinctly with the ears; the maintenance of righteousness between ruler and minister, and of affection between parent and child. This is the 'normal nature,' and the 'normal virtue' is the nature fulfilling the various laws of its constitution.
425:2 The connexion between these four lines and those that precede is this:--that while Heaven produces all men with the good nature there described, on occasions it produces others with virtue and powers in a super-eminent degree. Such an occasion was presented by the case of king Hsüan, and therefore, to mark its appreciation of him, and for his help,, it now produced Kung Shan-fû.
425:3 This was a special sacrifice at the commencement of a journey, or of an expedition. See note 2 on p. 399.