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Judge Shih Shê

King Chao of Ch’u had an officer named Shih Shê, who was characterized by his impartiality and love of the right, and the king made him a judge. At this time someone killed a man on the highway. When Shih Shê went in pursuit of him, it turned out to be his father.

He returned to the court and said, "The person who killed the man was my father. To sacrifice one's father to perfect one's administration is not filial; not to put in operation the laws of one's prince is not loyal. My duty is to submit to punishment for having overlooked his crime and disregarded the law." He prostrated himself before the axe and execution block saying, "My life is in your hands."
The prince said, "You pursued him without catching him; how can there be any blame? May you go on with your work."

Shih Shê said, "Not so. Not to be partial to one's father is not filial; not to carry out the laws of one's prince is not loyal. To go on living when guilty of a crime deserving death is not honest. If Your Highness wishes to grant a pardon, it is the grace of a superior; but I cannot neglect the laws: such is the duty (i) of an inferior."

Whereupon he would not leave the axe and execution block, but cutting his throat, died in the court.
When the superior man hears of this, he says, "Pure and law-abiding—such was Master Shih."
Confucius said, "The father conceals the misconduct of the son, and the son conceals the misconduct of the father. Uprightness is to be found in this."

The Ode says,
That officer
In the country will ever hold to the right.

Master Shih is an example of this.



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