On Illegitimate Sons (Group Translation)
In the past, our great king Yeongjong (Yeongjo) worried about illegitimate sons frustrated in their career paths. He ordered the ministry of personnel<1> to select ten people with literary arts including Seong Daejung<2>, and gave them the position of censors (daegan 臺諫). After that, he ordered the subjects of ministry position (jaebo 宰輔) to come forward and directed them saying: “The heaven is more than noble; it has never been not called the heaven thus far. A ruler is more than noble; he has never been not called a ruler thus far. The fact that illegitimate sons are not able to call their parents “parents”. Why is this so?” (He was referring to the legal mother.) All the ministers were speechless. No one dared answer in criticism. After that, they stepped down, and there were some who talked to those who were at the upper court hall, saying, “Heaven is called father and earth is called mother. This is what all people share. If an ordinary man dares to be called “son of heaven,” the six armies will remove him.”<3> Therefore, all mouths agreed, and called this as well-said words.
A gentleman said, “This is not of the ritual. Also the words of the grandfather king (Yeongjo) are right. Father should be called father and mother should be called mother. This is what all human sons share. There are illegitimate sons who call themselves proper sons. Has this not been decided and acknowledged by the entire family.<4> How can the combined actions of calling their fathers “father” and mothers “mother” be prohibited? Moreover being fathers and mothers cannot be prohibited. If you record their lineage to make a family registry, then you would write them down as father. If you record their lineage to make their personal identification on the civil service exam (bongmi 封彌), then you would write them down as father. If you write their lineage to publish the list of successful candidates (bangmok 榜目), then you would write them down as father. If you write the lineage to keep their names in the ministry of personnel (sunbu 選部), then you would write them down as father. Why only amidst the languages of inner doors (family) prohibit it, thus not letting them call their father. Why frustrate the careers of the illegitimate sons? Han Weigong (Han Qi)’s mother was a lowly concubine of Qingzhou. Fan Zhongyan followed the mother’s married family. He assumed the surname of his stepfather. After he entered Hanlin Academy, he finally submitted a request to recover his original last name. If the Song court blocked the two people from their career, then would it have been possible for them to drape their sashes and hold up their tablets (hol 笏), drive the circumstances of the state to the stability like Mount Tai, and make the hearts of Western Bandits (Xi Xia) scared? The three brothers of master Shao Kangjie<5> wore nine-month mourning attire (daegongbok 大功服) following Gongshu Mu and three-year mourning attire (jachoebok 齊衰服) following Diyi<6>. If the scholars of Song looked down upon Kangjie for this, then how could the book of Huangji jingshi have contributed to this culture of ours? This position of censors (daegan 臺諫) is a small one. Definitely making them ministers (sang 相) should eventually be permitted.”
<1>Name of the ministry of personnel during the Han dynasty. It was also used in Goryeo.
<3>《孟子 - 告子下》三不朝，則六師移之。The Mencius: if he did so a third time, the royal forces were set in motion, and he was removed from his government. (tr. James Legge).
<4>In text: “九族” - the nine degrees of kinship (4 from the father’s side; 3 – mother’s and 2 from wife’s).
<5>Shao Kangjie 邵康節 (1011~1077) was a scholar of the Song dynasty.
<6>《禮記 - 檀弓上》公叔木有同母異父之昆弟死，問於子游。子游曰：「其大功乎？」狄儀有同母異父之昆弟死，問於子夏，子夏曰：「我未之前聞也；魯人則為之齊衰。」狄儀行齊衰。今之齊衰，狄儀之問也。An elder brother of Gong-shu Mu, by the same mother but a different father, having died, he asked Zi-you (whether he should go into mourning for him), and was answered, 'Perhaps you should do so for the period of nine months.' A brother, similarly related to Di Yi, having died, he consulted Zi-xia in the same way, and was answered, 'I have not heard anything about it before, but the people of Lu wear the one year's mourning in such a case.' Di Yi did so, and the present practice of wearing that mourning arose from his question'.