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Ssŭma Ch‘ien's Historical Records. Chapter II.

trans. Herbert J. Allen











[LONDON, 1895]

{Reduced to HTML by Christopher M. Weimer, Sept. 2003}

p. 93

ART. III.—Ssŭma Ch‘ien's Historical Records. By HERBERT J. ALLEN, M.R.A.S.

(Continued from page 295 Vol. for 1894.)


CHAPTER II.—The Hsia Dynasty.

   Yü of Hsia "was styled Wênming."1 Yü's father was Kun, whose father was the Emperor Ch‘uanhsü, whose father was Ch‘angyi, whose father was Huangti; so Yü was Huangti's great-great-grandson, and Ch‘uanhsü's grandson. Yü's great-grandfather Ch‘angyi and his father Kun were both unable to sit on the Imperial throne, being simply officials. In the time of the Emperor Yao2 "the deluge assailed the heavens, and in its vast expanse encompassed the mountains, and overtopped the hills, so that the common people were troubled about it. Yao sought for one capable of controlling the waters. All the officials and presidents of the four mountains said, 'Kun might do it.' Yao said, 'Kun is a man who disobeys orders, and ruins his companions. He will not do.' The president of the four mountains said," 'Among his equals there is no one so worthy as Kun; I wish your Majesty would "try him." Upon which Yao, giving heed to the president of p. 94 the four mountains, employed Kun to control the waters "for nine years," but the waters did not abate, "and the work was unaccomplished." Then the Emperor Yao sought a man in his stead, and secured Shun. Shun being employed in the public service was associated with the Son of Heaven in the administration. While on a tour of inspection, he saw that there was no evidence that Kun kept the waters under control, so "he imprisoned him for life on Mount Yu," and everyone in the Empire said that Shun's decision was a just one. Shun then appointed Kun's son Yü to the post, and directed him to continue his father's occupation. After Yao's death, the Emperor Shun1 "asked the president of the four mountains if there was any one who could perfect and develop Yao's undertakings, and whom he could employ in an official capacity. They all said, 'There is lord Yü, the Minister of Works; he might perfect and develop Yao's labours.' Shun said, 'Ah yes! you, Yü, have regulated the water and the land, but in this office you must exert yourself.' Yü did obeisance with his head to the ground, and would have declined in favour of Hsieh, Prince Millet, or Kaoyao, but Shun said 'Go and attend to your duties.'" Yü was quick, earnest, and diligent, not deviating from virtue, kind, and lovable; his word could be depended on, his voice was musical, and his body, like a balance properly adjusted, moved unweariedly and solemnly in accordance with certain fixed rules. Yü, then in company with Yi and Prince Millet, having received the Emperor's orders, bade the princes and people raise a gang of men2 "to make a division of the land, and following the line of the hills hew down the trees, and determine the characteristics of the high hills and great rivers." Yü was grieved in that his progenitor Kun had been punished on account of his work being incomplete, so, wearied in body and distressed in p. 95 mind, he1 lived away from his home for 13 years, passing the door of his house without daring to enter. With ragged clothes and poor diet he paid his devotions to the spirits until his wretched hovel fell in ruins in the ditch. When travelling along the dry land he used a carriage, on the water he used a boat, in miry places a sledge, while in going over the hills he used spikes. On the one hand he used the marking-line, and on the other the compass and square. Working as the seasons permitted, and with a view to2 "open up the nine provinces," he made the roads communicable, banked up the marshes, surveyed the hills, told Yi and his band that paddy should be planted in low damp places, and directed Lord Millet and his band,2 when it was difficult to obtain food, or when food was scarce, to barter their surplus stock in exchange for what they had not," so as to put all the princes on an equal footing. Yü in this way worked for the mutual convenience of the respective districts as regards the distribution of the wealth and resources of the country.

   Yü started from Ch‘ichow.3 He "commenced his work in Ch‘ichow at Pot's mouth, and regulated the country about the Liang and Ch‘i mountains. Having repaired the works at T‘aiyuan he went to the south of Mount Yo. He was successful with his labours at Tanhuai, and went to the cross-flowing stream of Chang. The soil of the province was white clay. Its contribution of revenue was the first of p. 96 the highest class with some admixture of the second, while its fields were the average of the middle class. The Ch‘ang and Wei rivers flowed in their proper channels, and the Talu plain was formed. The bird barbarians,1 wearing skin dresses, kept close on the right to the granite rocks until they came to the sea. The Ch‘i and Yellow rivers formed the boundaries of Yenchow. The nine branches of the Yellow river followed their courses, and Lei hsia was a marsh, in which the Yung and Chü streams were united. The mulberry region was supplied with silkworms, and then the people came down from the heights and occupied it. The soil of the province was black loam, its herbage luxuriant, and trees tall. Its fields were the lowest of the middle class. Its contribution of revenue was fixed at what would just be deemed the correct amount, and after it had been worked for 13 years it was assimilated to the other provinces. Its tribute consisted of varnish and silk, and woven ornamental fabrics in baskets. You float along the Ch‘i and T‘a and so reach the Yellow river. The sea and the Tai mountain formed the boundaries of Ch‘ingchow. The territory of Yü-i was defined, and the Wei and Tzŭ rivers flowed in their proper channels. The soil of the province was white loam, and on the sea-coast were wide tracts of salt land. Its fields, which were impregnated with salt, were the lowest of the first class, and its contribution of revenue the highest of the second. Its tribute consisted of salt, fine cloth of dolichos fibre, and productions of the sea of various kinds, with silk, hemp, lead, pine-trees, p. 97 and strange stones from the valleys of the Tai. The wild tribes of Lai were shepherds, and brought in their baskets silk from the mountain mulberry. You float down the Wên, and so reach the Ch‘i. The sea, the Tai mountain, and the river Huai formed the boundaries of Hsüchow. The Huai and I rivers were regulated. The Mêng and Yü mountains were made fit for cultivation. The waters of Tayeh formed a marsh, and the eastern plain became level. The soil of this province was red, clayey, and rich. The grass and trees grew more and more bushy. Its fields were the second of the highest class, and its contribution of revenue was the average of the second. Its tribute consisted of earth of different colours, the variegated pheasants from the valleys of mount Yü, the solitary dryandra from the south of mount Yi, and the floating musical stones from the banks of the Szŭ. The wild tribes of the Huai brought oyster-pearls and fish, and their baskets were full of dark embroideries and pure white silken fabrics. You float along the Huai and Szŭ and so reach the Yellow river. The Huai river and the sea formed the boundaries of Yangchow. The P‘êngli lake formed a reservoir of water, where the sun birds (i.e. the wild geese) settled. The three large rivers entered the sea, and the shaking marsh became quite still. Bamboos of different kinds were spread about, the grass grew luxuriantly, and the trees tall, but the soil was miry. The fields of this province were the lowest of the lowest class; its contribution of revenue was the highest of the lowest class, with a proportion of the class above. Its tribute consisted of gold, silver, and copper, jasper, pearls, bamboos of various kinds, ivory, hides, feathers, and hair. The wild people of the isles brought garments of grass; their baskets were filled with woven silks and cowries, and their bundles contained small oranges and pummeloes, which were rendered when required. You follow the course of the Great river and the sea, and so reach the Huai and Szŭ rivers. Mount Ching and the south of Mount Hêng formed the boundaries of Chingchow. The p. 98 Great river and Han rivers paid their court to the sea. The nine rivers occupied all the middle of the land. The T‘o and Ch‘ien rivers flowed in their proper channels; and the land in the Yün and Mêng marshes was made capable of cultivation. The soil of this province was miry; its fields were the average of the lowest class; its contribution of revenue was the lowest of the highest class. Its tribute consisted of feathers, hair, ivory, hides, gold, silver, copper, woods of the wild varnish, cudrania, triloba, juniper, and cypress trees, with grindstones, whetstones, stone arrowheads, and cinnabar, likewise the Ch‘ün and Lu bamboos, and the wood of the redthorn, of which the three states brought the most noted specimens. The three ribbed rush was put in cases which were wrapped up, while the baskets were filled with dark and purple silks and strings of coarse pearls. From the country of the nine rivers the great tortoise was presented. You float down the Great river, the T‘o, the Ch‘ien, and the Han rivers, cross over to the Lo, whence you reach the southern part of the Yellow river. The Ching mountain and the Yellow river formed the boundaries of Yüchow. The I, the Lo the Ch‘an, and the Chien streams flowed into the Yellow river, the Yungpo waters formed a lake, and the waters of the K‘o marsh were conducted to the Ming reservoir. The soil of this province was clayey, while in its lower parts it was rich, and in clods. Its fields were the highest of the middle class; its contribution of revenue was the average of the highest class, with a proportion of the very highest. The tribute was varnish, silk, fine cloth of dolichos fibre, and sackcloth. The baskets were filled with delicate embroidery and floss-silk, and stones for polishing musical stones were rendered when required. You float along the Lo until you reach the Yellow river. The south of Mount Hua and the Blackwater formed the boundaries of Liangchow. The Min and Po hills were cultivated. The T‘o and Ch‘ien rivers flowed in their channels, sacrifices were offered to the hills Ts‘ai and Mêng on the plateaux, and the wild tribes on the Ho river were p. 99 successfully managed. The soil of the province was bluish black. Its fields were the highest of the lowest class; its contribution of revenue was the average of the lowest class, with proportions of the rates above and below. Its tribute consisted of the best gold, iron, silver, steel, stone arrow-heads, musical stones, and nets woven from the hair of bears and foxes. From Hsiching you come along the river Huan, float down the Ch‘ien, cross over to the Mien, enter the Wei, and ferry across the Yellow river. The Blackwater and the western bend of the Yellow river formed the boundaries of Yungchow. The Jo water flowed westward; the Ching, the Ch‘i, and Chü streams formed a junction with the Wei, as also did the waters of the Fêng. The Ching and Ch‘i hills were sacrificed too, and so were those of Chungnan and Tunwu all the way to 'Bird-and-Rat' hill. Successful measures were taken with the plains and swamps as far as the Tuyeh marsh. The people of Sanwei were controlled, and the Sanmiao tribes kept in good order. The soil of the province was yellow clay. Its fields were the highest of the highest class, while its contribution of revenue was the lowest of the second. Its tribute was jade, topazes, and white cornelian stones. From 'Stonepile' hill you float on to 'Dragongate' on the western branch of the Yellow river at its junction with the Wei river. The western Jung tribes from the Kunlun, Hsichih, and Ch‘üsou mountains with their hair-cloth and furs were kept in order. Journeying over the nine mountains, you go from Ch‘ien and Ch‘i hills to mount Ching; passing the Yellow river, Pot's mouth, and Leishow you come to T‘aiyo; from Tich‘u and Hsichêng hills to 'King's house'; from T‘aihung and Mount Ch‘ang to the granite rocks and the sea; from Hsiching, Chuyu, and 'Bird-and-Rat'1 hills to mount T‘aihua; from 'Bear's-ear,' Waifang, and T‘ungpo hills to Peiwei; you journey from Pochung to mount Ching; from Neifang to Tapieh, and from the south of Mount Min to Mount Hêng, p. 100 and cross the nine rivers to the Fuchien plain. Following the course of the nine large rivers: from the Jo river you go to Holi, whence the superfluous water flows into the Rolling sands. You trace the Blackwater to Sanwei, where it enters the southern sea; you trace the Yellow river from 'Stone-pile' to 'Dragongate,' southward to the north of Mount Hua, eastward to Tich‘u, again eastward to the ford Mêng, eastward you pass the junction of the Lo river to Tapei, northward past the Chiang water to Talu, northward the stream is divided and becomes the nine rivers, reunited it forms the opposing river and flows into the sea. From Pochung you trace the course of the Yang. Flowing eastward it becomes the Han, further east it becomes the Ts‘anglang water, passing the three dykes it goes to T‘aipieh, southward it enters the great river, eastward whirling on it forms the P‘êngli marsh, again eastward it forms the northern great river and enters the sea. From mount Min you trace the great river, which branching to the east becomes the T‘o, again eastward it comes to the Li, passes the nine great rivers and comes to the eastern ridge, flows eastward, winds to the north, and joins the eddies, eastward it becomes the middle great river and enters the sea. Tracing the course of the Yün river—it flows to the east, becomes the Chi, enters the Yellow river, flows on and becomes the Yung; eastward it comes out to the north of Taoch‘iu, further east flows into the Ko marsh, again north-eastward it unites with the Wên, and still further to the north-east it enters the sea. Tracing the course of the Huai from T‘ungpo—to the eastward it unites with the Ssŭ and I rivers, and flowing to the east enters the sea. Tracing the course of the Wei from 'Bird-and-rat-in-the-same-hole' hill—it unites to the east with the Fêng, further to the north-east it flows into the Ching, to the east passing the Ch‘i and Chü streams it enters the Yellow river. Tracing the course of the Lo from 'Bear's-ear' hill, on the north-east it unites with the Chien and Ch‘an, further to the east it unites with the I, and to the north-east enters the Yellow river. So throughout p. 101 the nine provinces a similar order was effected: the four coasts were built over, the hills were cleared of their wood and sacrificed to, the streams had their sources scoured out, the marshes were well banked, and all within the four seas had access to the capital. The six treasuries of nature1 were made the most of, and the various parts of the country exactly compared so that the receipt of revenue could be carefully adjusted according to their resources. The three characters of the soil were classified, and the taxation fixed. The central government conferred lands and surnames. Revenue was paid to the Emperor's exalted virtue, which was set up as an example, and none opposed his Majesty's action." Now beyond the Emperor's capital "500 li constituted the Imperial domain. From the first hundred li they brought, as revenue, the whole plant of the grain, from the second the ears, from the third the straw, but the people had to perform feudal services, from the fourth the grain in the husk, and from the fifth the grain cleaned. Five hundred li beyond the Imperial domain constituted the domain of the nobles. The first hundred li formed the allotments to the feudal nobles, the second hundred those to the people employed by the State, and the other 300 those to the various princes. Five hundred li beyond the nobles' domain lay the peaceful domain. In the first 300 li they cultivated learning and the moral duties, and in the other 200 their energies lay in the direction of war and defence. Five hundred li beyond the peaceful domain was the domain of restraint. The first 300 were occupied by the I tribes, and the other 200 by criminals undergoing the lesser banishment. Five hundred li beyond the domain of restraint lay the wild domain. Three hundred li were occupied by the Man tribes, and the other 200 li by criminals undergoing the greater banishment. On the east reaching to the sea, on the west extending to the rolling sands, to the utmost p. 102 limits of the north and south, Yü's fame and influence spread everywhere within the four seas, so the Emperor presented him with a dark-coloured sceptre, thus announcing to the empire the completion of his work."

   The empire then being at peace and well governed, Kaoyao was made chief minister of state with a view to his ruling the people. The emperor Shun gave audience to Yü, Poyi, and Kaoyao, who addressed each other before the Emperor.1 "Kaoyao, setting forth his counsels, said, 'If a man sincerely follows the path of duty and virtue, his counsellors will be intelligent, and those who aid him will act in harmony.' Yü said, 'Yes, but what do you mean?' Kaoyao said, 'Oh! he will be careful about his personal cultivation, and will think constantly about it. Thus he will pay due regard to precedence among the nine branches of his kindred, all the intelligent will exert themselves in his service, and so from what is at hand he may attain to what is far off.' Yü made obeisance at these excellent words, and said, 'It is so.' Kaoyao said 'Oh! It all lies in knowing mankind, and in quieting the people.' Yü said, 'Alas! to attain to all this would be difficult even for the Emperor. He who knows men is wise; he who can put men into the posts for which they are fit, and can quiet the people, is benevolent, and the black-haired race will cherish him in their hearts. When a man can be thus wise and kind, why should he have anxiety about a Huantow? why to be removing a chief of the Miao tribes? why should he fear a man of specious words, good appearance, and artful ways?' Kaoyao said, 'Just so! there are in all nine virtues, and when we say that a man possesses these virtues it is as much as to say that he begins to do such and such things. They are liberality combined with dignity, mildness combined with firmness, bluntness combined with respect, aptness for government combined with caution, docility combined with p. 103 boldness, straightforwardness combined with gentleness, easy negligence combined with discrimination, resolution combined with sincerity, and courage combined with justice. If these are apparent, and that continuously, how fortunate it will be. He who daily displays three of these virtues could early and late support and educate a family. He who is strict and reverent in cultivating six of these virtues could brilliantly conduct the affairs of the State. When such men are received and found everywhere, the possessors of those nine virtues will all be employed, and men of eminence will hold office, and the various officers will be respectful and diligent, not teaching heretical, vicious, or strange doctrines. If such men and such officers do not exist it may be said that the affairs of Heaven are in confusion. Heaven punishes the guilty, and the five punishments can be severally applied for that purpose. Are my words sound, and can they be put in force?' Yü said, 'Your words are perfect, and can be successfully put in force.' Kaoyao said, 'As to that I do not know, but I aim at assisting in the path of duty.'"1

   "The Emperor Shun said to Yü, 'Will you, too, make a brilliant speech?' Yü did obeisance and said, 'Ah! what can I say? I aim at being assiduous from day to day.' Kaoyao, teasing Yü, said, 'What do you mean by being assiduous?' Yü said, 'When the flood assailed the heavens, and in its vast expanse encompassed the mountains and overtopped the hills, so that the common people were overcome by the water, I travelled on dry land in a carriage, went about on the water in a boat, in miry places I used a sledge, while in going over the hills I used spikes. All along the hills I hewed paths through the woods, and together with Yi supplied the people with paddy and fresh meat. In order to drain the nine streams into the four seas, I deepened the channels and canals, and connected them with the rivers, and together with p. 104 'Millet' and the people in general when it was difficult to obtain food, and when food was scarce I bartered the surplus stock to make up for deficiencies, and removed the stores. Thus the people were quieted, and the various states properly governed.' Kaoyao said, 'Yes! this was good on your part.' Yü said, 'Ah! your Majesty, carefully maintain the Throne which you occupy, and be quiet in your behaviour, assist virtue, and the nation will grandly respond to your pure desires. It will thus be manifest that you await the decrees of the Supreme Being, and will not Heaven renew its favouring appointment by conferring blessings on you?' The Emperor said, 'Dear me! ministers! ministers! you constitute my legs and arms, my ears and eyes. If I wish to aid and support the people, you help me to do so. If I wish to see the emblematic figures of the ancients—the sun, moon, and stars—which are embroidered on the robes and coloured silks, you see them clearly for me. If I wish to hear the six pitchpipes, the five notes, and the eight musical instruments on the adjustment of which depend good government or misrule, and the consequent rise or decline of the five duties, you hear them for me. If I do wrong, you have to correct me. Do not flatter me to my face and speak evil of me behind my back. Be reverent, ye four ministers, and all ye calumniating minions of officials. If the prince's virtue is honestly displayed all men will be pure.' Yü said, 'Yes! should your Majesty not act thus, but equally employ the good and bad, you will gain no credit.' The Emperor said, 'Do not be arrogant like Chu of Tan, who took his pleasure only in idleness and dissipation. He would make boats go where there was no water, introduced licentious friends into his family, and thereby cut off the hereditary honours of his house. I could not follow that line of conduct.' Yü said, 'I was married at T‘ushan on the days hsin and jên, and on the days kuei and chia my son Ch‘i was born. I did not treat him as a son, and therefore was able to complete my labours on the water and on land. I assisted, in completing p. 105 the five Tenures, extending over 5000 li. In the provinces I appointed twelve tutors, and in the regions beyond to the four seas I established five presidents. These all did their duty, and achieved great results, but the Miao tribes were obstinate, and refused to do their work. Think of this, your Majesty.' The Emperor said, 'That my virtue is the guide is the result of your orderly arrangements.' Kaoyao therefore, respecting Yü's virtues," bade the people carry out as a rule his plan of preferring admonition, but "also made use of punishments." Shun's virtues were very clear, whereupon "K‘uei played some music; the spirits of Imperial ancestors, and hosts of nobles gave place to one another, and even birds and beasts wheeled about and danced. When the nine airs of Shun's music were played, the phœnixes came and put themselves in attitudes, the different beasts led each other on to dance, and the various officials were really in harmony. The Emperor upon this composed the following ode, 'Being set on high by the favouring appointment of Heaven, we must be careful at every moment, and in every particular.' He then sang as follows, 'When the members are happy, the head is exalted, and the various kinds of work are happily performed.' Kaoyao did obeisance with his head to his hands, and then to the ground, and with a loud voice said, 'Oh! think. It is yours to lead on and originate affairs. Pay careful attention to your laws. Be cautious.' He continued his song, saying, 'When the head is intelligent, the members are good, and all business will prosper.'" Shun "again sang as follows, 'When the head is vexatious, the members are idle, and all business is ruined.' The Emperor bowed and said, 'Yes, go and be reverent!'"

   The whole nation upon this applauded Yü's brilliant musical performance, and the divine lord of hills and streams, 1"the Emperor Shun presented Yü to Heaven p. 106 as his heir, and 17 years afterwards the Emperor Shun died. The three years' mourning being over, Yü retired before Shun's son Shangchün to the town of Yang," but the princes of the empire all left Shangchün, and went to Yü's court, and Yü accordingly occupied the Imperial throne. Facing the south he gave audience to the nation. His dynastic appellation was (Hsia hou) Prince of Hsia, and his surname Ssŭ. The Emperor Yü sat on the throne and recommended Kaoyao for promotion, transferring also the administration of affairs to him, but Kaoyao died, and his descendants were enfeoffed with the principalities of Yingliu and Hsü. The prince then recommended Yi for the appointment of administrator of affairs. Ten years elapsed, when the Emperor Yü, having gone to the east on a tour of inspection, died at Huich‘i, and the rule of the empire was given to Yi. "When the three years' mourning was over, Yi" resigned in favour of Yü's son Ch‘i, and "retired to the south of Mount Chi." Yü's son Ch‘i was worthy, and the nation fixed its desires upon him, but when Yü died, although the rule was given to Yi, he supported Yü but a few days, when the nation not being content "the princes all left Yi, and went to Ch‘i's court saying, 'He is the son of our sovereign'" emperor Yü.

   Ch‘i then succeeded to the Imperial throne, and became Emperor Ch‘i, the Prince of Hsia. The Prince of Hsia, Emperor Ch‘i, was the son of Yü, his mother being the daughter of the lord of T‘ushan. As the lord of Hu would not submit, Ch‘i attacked him, and1 "there was a great battle at Han."

p. 107

   Just before the engagement the "speech at Kan" was delivered to the "six generals, who were summoned together; Ch‘i said, 'Ah! ye who are engaged in my six armies, I have a solemn announcement to make to you. The chief of Hu violently sets at naught the five human relations, and idly casts aside the three obligations of duty. Heaven will on this account oppose him and cut off the span of his life, and I am now but reverently executing the punishment appointed by Heaven. If you on the left do not do your work on the left, and you on the right do not do your work on the right, it will be a disregard of my orders. If you, charioteers, do not observe the rules for the management of your horses, it will be a disregard of my orders. You who obey my orders shall be rewarded in the ancestral temple, but you who disobey my orders shall be slain before the altar of the spirits of the land, and I will destroy both you and your children." He thereupon destroyed the chief of Hu, and the whole nation went to the court of the Prince of Hsia.

   Emperor Ch‘i died, and his son Emperor T‘aik‘ang (K‘ang the 1st) came to the throne. The Emperor 1"T‘aik‘ang lost his kingdom; his five brothers waited for him on the north of the Lo river, and composed the song of the five sons."2

   K‘ang the 1st died, and his brother K‘ang the 2nd came to the throne, that is the Emperor K‘ang the 2nd. In the time of the Emperor K‘ang the 2nd, 3"Hsi and Ho, indulging in wine and dissipation, neglected the seasons, and let the calendar get into confusion. Yin went to punish them, and the 'punitive expedition of Yin' was composed."

p. 108

   K‘ang the 2nd died, and his son Emperor Hsiang came to the throne.

   Emperor Hsiang died, and his Son K‘ang the 3rd came to the throne.

   Emperor K‘ang the 3rd died, and his son Emperor Chu came to the throne.

   Emperor Chu died, and his son Emperor Huai came the throne.

   Emperor Huai died, and his Son Emperor Mang came to the throne.

   Emperor Mang died, and his Son Emperor Hsieh came to the throne.

   Emperor Hsieh died, and his son Emperor Puhsiang came to the throne.

   Emperor Puhsiang died, and his brother Emperor Chiung came to the throne.

   Emperor Chiung died, and his Son Emperor Chin came to the throne.

   Emperor Chin died, and Emperor Puhsiang's son K‘ungchia, that is Emperor K‘ungchia, came to the throne. Emperor K‘ungchia was fond of enquiring into spiritual matters, and indulged in dissipation, and the virtue of the princes of Hsia having degenerated, the chiefs rebelled. Heaven sent down two dragons, a male and a female. K‘ungchia could not feed them, and could not obtain a dragon-keeper. After the decline of T‘aot‘ang (Yao) one of his descendants, Liu lei, learnt to train dragons, and he was chosen out of the dragon-keepers to wait on K‘ungchia, who gave him the title of dragon-tamer, which was inherited by the descendants of the Shiwei.1 The female dragon died, and he served it up p. 109 as a meal for the Prince of Hsia, but the latter having sent some one to look for it, he became frightened and ran away.

   K‘ungchia died, and his son Emperor Kao came to the throne.

   Emperor Kao died, and his son Emperor Fa came to the throne.

   Emperor Fa died, and his son Emperor Li Kuei,1 that is Chieh, came to the throne.

p. 110

   Reign of the Emperor Chieh. Ever since the time of K‘ungchia the barons had frequently rebelled. Chieh of Hsia did not strive after virtue, and the wars injured the people. Unable to endure their wrongs they summoned T‘ang to their aid, but he was imprisoned in the tower of Hsia; being afterwards released. T‘ang cultivated virtue, and the princes all went over to him, so T‘ang led an army to attack Chieh of Hsia. Chieh fled to Mingt‘iao, and was eventually driven out and slain. Chieh observed to someone, 'I regret that I did not take the opportunity of killing T‘ang in the tower of Hsia, and then I should not have been brought to such a pass.' T‘ang, being seated on the Imperial throne, superseded Hsia, and gave audience to the people. T‘ang enfeoffed the descendants of the Hsias. Until the time of the Chow dynasty they held the principality of Chi.


(To be continued.)

Journals Ssuma Ch'ien


p. 93

   1 Wênming means literally 'accomplishments and orders.' In the 'Counsels of the Great Yü' (L. C. III. p. 52) the Emperor Yü is so named. That chapter of the Book of History is not further referred to by our historian; but we have all the other books of Yü and books of Hsia either transcribed, or referred to.

   2 This passage from the 'Canon of Yao,' which we have already had in the first chapter of the Historical Records, appears later in the transcript from the 'Yi and Chi.'

p. 94

   1 Parts of the 'Canon of Shun' (para. 12 and 17) are again quoted here.

   2 The first paragraph of the 'Tribute of Yü' (L. C. III. p. 92) is here quoted.

p. 95

   1 In the 'Works of Mencius' (L. C. II. p. 127) the passage reads, "Yü was eight years away from his home, and though he thrice passed the door of it he did not enter."

   2 These passages appear in the transcript from 'Yi and Chi' below.

   3 We have now the rest of the Yü Kung (Tribute of Yü) transcribed in its entirety. Dr. Legge in the notes to his translation of this book says very rightly, "The name, the tribute of Yü, gives a very insufficient account of the contents. The determination of the revenue, and of the various articles of tribute was, indeed, very important, but the book describes generally the labours of Yü in remedying the disasters occasioned by the overflowing waters?" It seems indeed to be just a description of the mountains and rivers of the several provinces of China. Of course no one, not even the great Yü, could have performed the Herculean task he is by some credited with doing. Dr. Legge, in fact, says with regard to the second part of the book (p. 129), "we cannot suppose that Yü travelled again along the hills or the rivers, for in that case his toil would have been endless."

p. 96

   1 The bird barbarians are said to refer to a people living in the north-east who ate the flesh of birds and beasts, and wore their skins. A commentator says that these were the Mohos or Sushêns, i.e. the Tungusic ancestors of the Manchus, who lived on the eastern seabord, north of the Ever White mountains. Their birds, beasts, trees, and all were white. They dwelt in the forests, but the country was so cold that they frequently inhabited deep holes in the ground. They kept pigs, ate pork, wore pigskins, and smeared themselves with lard several inches thick to keep off the winter's cold, were very dirty in their habits, but good archers, shooting with a bow four feet long, and using arrows 1 ft. 8 in. long tipped with stone. At their funerals they piled hundreds of dead pigs on their coffins to serve as food for the deceased. The wooden coffin was bound with cords, and on the top, which protruded from the ground, they poured a libation of wine until the cords rotted.

p. 99

   1 This hill seems to be called subsequently 'Bird-and-rat-in-the-same-hole' hill.

p. 101

   1 K‘ung-an-ku states that the six treasuries of nature were water, fire, metal, wood, earth, and grain.

p. 102

   1 Most of the 'Counsels of Kaoyao' is here transcribed, a few sentences near the close only being omitted. The historian never intimates in any of his extracts that he is drawing largely from the Book of History.

p. 103

   1 Here follows nearly the whole of the 'Yi and Chi' chapter of the Book of History.

p. 105

   1 This passage is found in Mencius (Bk. V. pt. 1, vi.), where, however, the name of Shun's son is not mentioned. There are, too, some discrepancies. Mencius has it that after Yi had been "presented to Heaven by Yü, seven p. 106 years elapsed, when Yü died"; also that "after the three years' mourning had expired, Yi withdrew from the son of Yü to the north of Mount Chi." This word, which is also applied to the founder of the Chow dynasty, is the name of the seventh asterism (γ, δ, ε, and β in Sagittarius), so called from its resemblance to a chi (winnowing tray or basket). We find it here as the name of a hill, and it was also that of a marquisate.

p. 106

   1 Here follows a transcript of the whole of the 'Speech at Kan.' Dr. Legge observes in the concluding note to his translation of the chapter that the account is a clumsy imitation of Yü's expedition against the Sanmiao tribes in the 'Counsels of the Great Yü,' but there are so many imitations and repetitions in the Records that one soon tires of noticing them, and can but suppose that the historian's inventive faculty was faulty.

p. 107

   1 From the Preface to the Book of History, para. 7.

   2 The 'Song of the Five Sons,' and the 'Punitive Expedition of Yin' are the names of two other short documents of the Shuching. The calendar getting into confusion is said to refer to a solar eclipse occurring in the fifth year of the reign of the Emperor Chungk‘ang or K‘ang the 2nd, which, according to the common scheme of chronology, was in the year B.C. 2166, but Professor De Lacouperie gives the rectified date as 1904, while it is 1948 B.C. in the Bamboo annals. The date of the eclipse cannot, however, be satisfactorily verified, and the doubts as to the antiquity of this part of Chinese history are therefore confirmed.

   3 From the Preface to the Book of History, para. 8.

p. 108

   1 These characters, which mean 'pig-sty,' may be used derogatorily for the Shiwei ### tribes, which were to the east, west, north, and south of Turphan. One of the eighteen tribes joining Yelutache in 1125 A.D. was called the Great Yellow Shiwei (see Situation de Holin en Tartarie. T‘oungpao, vol. iv. p. 76). In Plath's Mandchurie, p. 80, we find that 'the Shiwei lived to the north of the Amur and of the Moho, and 3000 li from the Khitan country. You cross the river Cho, pass the mountain Toutsu, which p. 109 is 3000 li in circumference, reach the Kioli river, and then come to the land of the Shiwei.' One of the most southerly branches of this stock were the Khitans, who came originally from the north of Liaotung (cf. Parker's History of the Wuhwan Tunguses, China Review, vol. xx. p. 100).

p. 109

   1 Li or Chieh Kuei is the 17th and last emperor of the Hsia dynasty, which the 'General Mirror of History' shows us lasted 439 years, but with the exception of K‘ungchia and the last emperor, where some few details of character are given, our historian merely gives the names of the last fourteen without any record of events or length of reigns whatever. This is the more surprising when, according to Dr. Legge, "the documents of the Shuching which follow the Tribute of Yü, commencing with the speech at Kan, delivered in B.C. 2197 by Yü's son and successor, may all be received as veritable monuments of antiquity, and are contemporaneous with the events which they relate."

The meanings of the names of the emperors are worth noting, for it will then be seen how many are connected with astronomy or the calendar—a very pregnant fact. They are as follows:—

(1)The great Yü or Hsia how. Kung yü and Hsia how were the names of two scholars contemporary with Ssŭma Ch‘ien. The characters used for writing Kung yü are the same as those for 'Tribute of Yü,' but reversed.
(2)Ch‘i or Ch‘i ming = opening brightness, is the name for the planet Venus, so called because it 'opens the brightness' of the day (L. C. IV. 2, v. 9).
(3)T‘aik‘ang, or K‘ang the 1st, literally 'great peace,' but ### is used for ### the second of the twenty-eight asterisms, answering to ι.κ.λ.μ. in Virgo constellation.
(4)Chung K‘ang or K‘ang the 2nd.
(5)Hsiang, the 'Counsellor,' is the name of a single red star, answering to seventy-three of Flamsteed between δ and ε of the Great Bear (Schlegel, p. 528). The interregnum of forty years during this reign referred to in different schemes of chronology is not referred to by our historian.
(6)Shao K‘ang = K‘ang the lesser, or K‘ang the 3rd.
(7)There seems an uncertainty as to the right character to be used for the Emperor Chu's name. Ssŭma gives first ###, which means the space between the throne and the Emperor's retiring room behind it, and then ### which means 'I.' The 'General Mirror of History' gives ###, which means a shuttle. It is likely that ###, which means a lance, and the star β in Böotes, is the one which should be used.
p. 110
(8)Huai = the Sophora Japonica tree; also the essence of the asterism ### tumulus composed of α in Equuleus and β in Aquarius.
(9)Mang = bearded grain, a solar term falling about the 6th June.
(10)Hsieh = ooze out. Read 'I' = a tributary of the Huai river.
(11)Pu-hsiang = no surrender. Hsiang lou (###) is a star in Aries.
(12)Chiung = a door-bar.
(13)Chin = a hovel.
(14)K‘ung chia = Cave A. Chia is a cyclical character, and the first of 'Ten stems,' and being used in notation may be said to be equal to 1, or A.
(15)Kao or Hao = vast, glorious. Great Hao is the name for the first moon, as Small Hao is for the ninth moon.
(16)Fa = to shoot; spring.
(17)Li Kuei, or Chieh Kuei. Li = a shoe, and Chieh = cruel. Kuei is the last of the 'Ten stems' and therefore equivalent to the letter 10 or J.

Thus most of the names of the Emperors of this dynasty seem to be connected with astronomical or calendaric signs, and this fact will be more evident in the case of the names of the emperors in the succeeding dynasty of Shang.