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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

If the Earth attempt to overspread


Reverence sincerely the Three Treasures--Buddha, the Law, and the Priesthood--for these are the final refuge of the Four Generated Beings* and the supreme objects of faith in all countries. What man in what age can fail to revere this law? Few are utterly bad: they may be taught to follow it. But if they turn not to the Three Treasures, wherewithal shall their crookedness be made straight?

*Beings produced in transmigration by the four processes of being born from eggs, from a womb, from fermentation, or from metamorphosis.

III. When you receive the Imperial Commands fail not to obey scrupulously. The lord is Heaven; the vassal, Earth. Heaven overspreads; Earth upbears. When this is so, the four seasons follow their due course, and the powers of Nature develop their efficiency. If the Earth attempt to overspread, Heaven falls in ruin. Hence when the lord speaks, the vassal hearkens; when the superior acts, the inferior yields compliance. When, therefore, you receive an Imperial Command, fail not to carry it out scrupulously. If there be want or care in this respect, a catastrophe naturally ensues.

IV. Ministers and functionaries should make decorous behavior their guiding principle, for decorous behavior is the main factor in governing the people. If superiors do not behave with decorum, inferiors are disorderly; if inferiors are wanting in proper behaviour, offences are inevitable.

Thus it is that when lord and vassal behave with propriety, the distinctions of rank are not confused; and when the people behave with propriety, the government of the State proceeds of itself.

V. Refraining from gluttony and abandoning covetous desires, deal impartially with the suits brought before you. Of complaints preferred by the people there are a thousand in one day: how many, then, will there be in a series of years? Should he that decides suits at law make gain his ordinary motive and hear causes with a view to receiving bribes, then will the suits of the rich man be like a stone flung into water,* while the plaints of the poor will resemble water cast on a stone. In such circumstances, the poor man will not know whither to betake himself, and the duty of a minister will not be discharged.

*That is to say, they will encounter no opposition.

VI. Chastise that which is evil and encourage that which is good. This was the excellent rule of antiquity. Conceal not, therefore, the good qualities of others, and fail not to correct that which is wrong when you see it. Flatterers and deceivers are a sharp weapon for the overthrow of the State, and a pointed sword for the destruction of the people. Sycophants are also fond, when they meet, of dilating to their superiors on the errors of their inferiors; to their inferiors, they censure the faults of their superiors. Men of this kind are all wanting in fidelity to their lord, and in benevolence towards the people. From such an origin great civil disturbances arise.

VII. Let every man have his own charge, and let not the spheres of duty be confused. When wise men are entrusted with office, the sound of praise arises. If unprincipled men hold office, disasters and tumults are multiplied. In this world, few are born with knowledge: wisdom is the product of earnest meditation. In all things, whether great or small, find the right man, and they will surely be well managed: on all occasions, be they urgent or the reverse, meet with but a wise man and they will of themselves be amenable. In this way will the State be eternal and the Temples of the Earth and of Grain* will be free from danger. Therefore did the wise sovereigns of antiquity seek the man to fill the office, and not the office for the sake of the man.

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