the Reverential Heir-son

During the Spring and Autumn period, the marquis of Jìn, who is known to us as the Duke Xiàn of Jìn, ruled from B.C. 676 to 651. He was infatuated by his love for a barbarian captive from among the L^{i}, he behaved recklessly and unnaturally to his children already grown up. At the time, Shēn shēng was the heir-son of the Duke Xiàn of Jìn. Encouraged by the love of the Duke Lì jī plotted to replace her own son as heir.

Once, Lì jī coated her hair with honey to attract bees, and asked Shēn shēng to help her get rid of bees, then deliberately make the Duke see them. Then the Duke saw the scene and thought his son was molesting Lì jī, felt very angry, nearly stabbed shēn shēng to death. Although Shēn shēng had a thousand mouths, he could proved himself innocent.

In another occasion, Shēn shēng went to pay tribute to his mother’s tomb, Lì jī put poison in meat and alcohol for sacrifice, and let the Duke found out that wine and meat were poisonous. The Duke thought it was Shēn shēng did it, and intended to poison him.

So, the the Duke intend to put to death his heir-son Shēn shēng. Another son of the Duke, Chóng ěr, said to Shēn shēng, ‘Why should you not tell what is in your mind to the duke?’

The heir-son said, ‘I cannot do so. The ruler is happy with the lady Lì jī. I should (only) wound his heart.’

‘Then,’ continued the other, ‘Why not go away?’

The heir son replied, ‘I cannot do so. The ruler says that I wish to murder him. Is there any state where the (sacredness) of a father is not recognised? Where should I go to obviate this charge?’

(At the same time) he sent a man to take leave (for him) of Hú tú, with the message, ‘I was wrong in not thinking (more) of your words, my old friend, and that neglect is occasioning my death. Though I do not presume to grudge dying, yet our ruler is old, and his (favourite) son is (quite) young. Many difficulties are threatening the state, and you, old Sir, do not come forth (from your retirement), and consult for (the good of) our ruler. If you will come forth and do this, I will die (with the feeling that I) have received a (great) favour from you.’ He (then) bowed twice, laying his head to the ground, after which he died (by his own hand).

On this account he became (known in history as)’the Reverential Heir-son’.’

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