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King Wên dealt with an evil omen

Of old, in the time of King Wên of Chou, when he had ruled the country for eight years, in summer, the sixth month, he took to his bed with illness. After five days there was an earthquake, which, to the east, west, south, and north, did not extend beyond the outskirts of the capital. The functionaries all said, "We have heard that earthquakes occur because of the ruler. Now Your Majesty has been sick in bed for five days, and there has been an earthquake that did not extend beyond the outskirts of the capital in any direction. Your subjects are all frightened and we request that it may be averted."
King Wên said, "How are we going to avert it?"

They replied, "Undertake a public work and put the masses in motion so as to add to the city's walls: perhaps we can thereby avert it."

King Wên said, "It will not do. The Way of Heaven, in causing an evil omen to appear, is thereby to punish the guilty. I must be guilty, and hence this is to punish me. Now to go out of my way to undertake a public work and to put the masses in motion so as to add to the city's walls, would be to double my guilt. It cannot be done. I wish to reform my conduct and multiply good acts to avert it; I believe it can be avoided."

Thereupon he took pains with li and rules of precedence, and with gifts of furs made friends with the feudal lords. He made his speech elegant and presented capable officers with gifts of silk. He apportioned titles and rank; he measured out fields to confer on those who were deserving. Not long after he and his ministers had put these into practice, his illness was cured. King Wên had been on the throne for eight years when the earthquake occurred. After the earthquake he ruled for forty-three years longer; altogether he governed the country for fifty-one years before his death.

This was how King Wên dealt with an evil omen. The Ode says,

Revere the majesty of Heaven
Thus to preserve its favor.

昔者、周文王之时,莅国八年,夏六月,文王寝疾,五日而地动,东西南北不出国郊。有司皆曰:“臣闻:地之动,为人主也。今者、君王寝疾,五日而地动,四面不出国郊,群臣皆恐,请移之。”文王曰:“奈何其移之也?”对曰:“兴事动众,以增国城,其可移之乎!”文王曰:“不可。夫天之道见妖,是以罚有罪也,我必有罪,故此罚我也。今又专兴事动众,以增国城,是重吾罪也,不可以之。昌也请改行重善移之,其可以免乎!”于是遂谨其礼节祑皮革,以交诸侯;饰其辞令币帛,以礼俊士;颁其爵列等级田畴,以赏有功。遂与群臣行此,无几何而疾止。文王即位八年而地动,之后四十三年,凡莅国五十一年而终,此文王之所以践妖也。《诗》曰:“畏天之威,于时保之。”

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