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Chapter XXX. Inner Congeries of Sayings, The Upper Series: Seven Tacts1

There are seven tacts which the sovereign ought to employ, and six minutiæ which he ought to penetrate.

Of the seven tacts, the first is said to be "comparing and inspecting all available different theories"; the second, "making punishment definite and authority clear"; the third, "bestowing rewards faithfully and everybody exert his ability"; the fourth, "listening to all sides of every story 2 and holding every speaker responsible for it"; the fifth, "issuing spurious edicts and making pretentious appointments"; the sixth, "inquiring into cases by manipulating different information"; and the seventh, "inverting words and reversing tasks."

These seven are what the sovereign ought to employ.

1. Comparing Different Views3

If the sovereign does not compare what he sees and hears, he will never get at the real. If his hearing has any particular passage to come through at all, he will be deluded by ministers. The saying is based on the clown's dream of a cooking stove and on Duke Ai's saying that his mind became bewildered because of no advisory council. For further illustration, the man of Ch`i claimed to have seen the Earl of the River, Hui Tzŭ remarked that the ruler had lost half the brains in the country. Its contrary is instanced by the starvation of Shu Sun by Shu Niu and the interpretation of Ching's customary law by Chiang Yi. Duke Ssŭ wanted political order, but, not knowing any special kind of statecraft, merely made the ministers hostile to one another. For the same reason, the intelligent sovereign would infer the need of guarding against rapacious ministers from the reason for piling iron bars on the walls of the room as measures against stray arrows, and judge the existence of an impending calamity in the market-place from the allegation of facts by three men.

2. Making Punishment Definite

If the ruler is too compassionate, the law will never prevail. If the authority is too weak, the inferior will offend the superior. For this reason, if penalties are not definite, prohibitions and decrees will take no effect. The saying is based on Tung Tzŭ's tour to the Stony Country and Tzŭch`an's instruction to Yu Chi. For further illustration, Chung-ni talked about the function of frost, the Law of Yin punished anybody throwing ashes into the streets, the highway guards left Yo Ch`ih, and Kung-sun Yang strictly censured minor offences. On the contrary, the gold-dust in the Clear Water was not kept safe, the fire at the Product Swamp was not suppressed. Ch`êng Huan thought that extreme benevolence would weaken the Ch`i State; Pu P`i thought that compassion and beneficence would ruin the King of Wey. Kuan Chung, knowing the necessity of making prohibitions strict, extended jurisdiction over dead persons. Duke Ssŭ, knowing the necessity of making punishment definite, bought back a labour fugitive.

3. Bestowing Reward and Honour

If reward and honour are insufficient and faithless, the inferior would not obey. If reward and honour are great and of faith, the inferior will make light of death. The saying is based on Viscount Wên's saying, "The inferior turn to great reward and high honour just like the wild deer going to luxuriant grass." For further illustration, the King of Yüeh set fire to the palace building, Wu Ch`i leaned the shaft of a carriage outside the city-gate, Li K`uei judged lawsuits on the basis of the litigants' shooting abilities, and the people of Ch`ung-mên in Sung would on account of reward and honour reduce themselves to death. Kou-chien, knowing the utility of reward and honour, saluted an angry frog; Marquis Chao, knowing the utility of reward and honour, stored up old trousers. Big reward, indeed, makes everybody as brave as Mêng Pên and Chuan Chu. Women daring to pick up silkworms and fishermen daring to grasp eels, both testify to the utility of reward and honour. 4

4. Listening to All Sides of Every Story

If the ruler listens straight to one project alone, he cannot distinguish between the stupid and the intelligent. If he holds every projector responsible, ministers cannot confound their abilities. The saying is based on the demand of the Chêng territory by Wey and on the playing of the Yü instrument. Its opposite is instanced by Shên Tzŭ's employment of Chao Shao and Han Ta to test the opinion of the Ruler of Han. For further instance, Prince Ch`ih 5 suggested the cession of the territory east of the Yellow River; Marquis Ying proposed to loosen the garrison at Shang-tang.

5. Making Pretentious Appointments

If someone has frequent audience with his superior and is accorded a long reception but not appointed to any office, then villainous men will disperse in his presence like deer in all directions. If the superior sends men out to find anything other than what is in question, the inferior would not dare to sell private favours. Therefore, P`ang Ching recalled the sheriff, Tai Huan ordered men to find out if there was any covered wagon, the Sovereign of Chou purposely lost jade bodkins, and the Premier of Shang spoke about ox dung.

6. Manipulating Different Information

If you make inquiries by manipulating different information, then even unknown details will come to the fore. If you know everything of something, then all the hidden will be seen in a different light. The saying is based on Marquis Chao's holding one of his nails in his fist. For further illustration, when the knowledge of the conditions outside the south gate became definite, conditions going on in the other three directions were found out, too. The Sovereign of Chou looked for crooked canes, wherefore the officials became afraid of him thereafter. Pu P`i employed 6 a petty official as detective. Hsi-mên Pao pretended 7 to have lost the linchpin of his carriage.

7. Inverting Words

Invert words and reverse affairs, and thereby cross-examine the suspect. Then you will get at the reality of culprits. Thus, Shan-yang 8 purposely slandered Chiu Shu, Nao Ch`ih fabricated an envoy from Ch`in, the Ch`is wanted to create disturbances, Tzŭ-chih lied about the white horse, Tzŭ-ch`an separated the litigants, and Duke Ssŭ purposely made his men go through the pass of the city.

So much above for the canons.

Annotations to Canon I:

At the time of Duke Ling of Wei, Mi Tzŭ-hsia was in favour with him, and administered all public affairs in the Wei State. One day, the clown, 9 while interviewing the Duke, said, "The dream of thy servant has materialized, indeed." "What did you dream?" asked the Duke. "Thy servant dreamt that a cooking stove stood in lieu of Your Highness," replied the clown. "What? As I understand," said the Duke in anger, "who sees the lord of men in dreaming dreams the sun. Why did you see a cooking stove in your dream of His Highness?" In reply the dwarf said: "Indeed, the sun shines upon everything under heaven while nothing can cover it; the ruler of men reigns all over the country while nobody can delude 10 him. Accordingly, who sees the lord of men in dreaming, dreams the sun. In the case of a cooking stove, however, if one person stands before it, then nobody from behind can see. Now, supposing someone were standing before Your Highness, would it not be possible for thy servant to dream of a cooking stove 11 ?"

Once Duke Ai of Lu asked Confucius, saying, "In spite of the popular proverb, `Getting bewildered because of no advisory council,' why is it that in administering the state affairs the more I consult with the body of officials the more disorderly the state becomes?" In reply Confucius said: "When the enlightened sovereign asks ministers about state affairs, one minister might know while another might not know. In that case, the enlightened sovereign can preside over a conference while the ministers earnestly discuss the affairs before him. Now that every official utters every word in accord with the opinion of Chi Sun and the whole State of Lu falls under the sway of one and the same bias, even though Your Highness consults with everybody within the state boundaries, the state cannot help becoming disorderly."

According to a different source 12 : When Yen Ying Tzŭ visited the court of Lu, Duke Ai 13 asked, "In spite of the common saying, `Getting bewildered because of not having three persons to consult with,' why is it that Lu cannot help becoming disorderly, although I consult with the whole nation?" In reply Yen Tzŭ said: "The ancient saying, `Getting bewildered because of not having three persons to consult with,' means that as one person may miss the point while the other two may get at it, three persons are sufficient to form an advisory council. Hence the saying, `Getting bewildered because of not having three persons to consult with.' Now that the officials throughout the Lu State, numbering hundreds and thousands, all talk in accordance with the private bias of the Chi Clan, though the number of persons is not small, yet what they say is the opinion of one man. Then how can there be three?"

Once somebody of Ch`i said to the King of Ch`i: "The Earl of the River is a great god. Why may Your Majesty not try to meet with him? May thy servant enable Your Majesty to meet with him!" Thereupon he built an altar on the middle of the flood and stood with the King upon it. In the meantime, there was a big fish making motions. "That is the Earl of the River!" said the man.

Chang Yi wanted to attack Ch`i and Ching with the allied forces of Ch`in, Han, and Wey, while Hui Shih wanted to halt the war by befriending Ch`i and Ching. The two opened a debate. The officials and the chamberlains all spoke in favour of Chang Tzŭ, pointing out the advantage of attacking Ch`i and Ching, while nobody spoke in favour of Hui Tzŭ. The King actually followed Chang Tzŭ's advice, considering Hui Tzŭ's proposal impracticable. After the expedition against Ch`i and Ching had been successfully carried out, Hui Tzŭ went into the court to have an audience, when the King said: "Sir, you should not have said anything at all. The expedition against Ch`i and Ching actually turned out to our advantage. And the whole nation had so expected." Thereupon Hui Tzŭ said: "May Your Majesty not refrain from deliberating upon the whole situation! Indeed, the expedition against Ch`i and Ching turned out to our advantage. And so had the whole nation expected. How numerous wise men were! If the expedition against Ch`i and Ching turned out to our disadvantage while the whole nation had expected the advantage, then how numerous must stupid men have been? After all, every scheme is a doubt from the outset. Who really doubts at all, usually considers every scheme half practicable and half impracticable. Now that all brains of the nation took the practicable side, it means that Your Majesty lost half the brains, namely, the brains of the negative side. The sovereign intimidated by wicked ministers is, as a rule, a loser of half the brains in the country."

When Shu Sun was Premier of Lu, he was influential and in charge of all state affairs. His favourite, named Shu Niu, also abused his orders. Shu Sun had a son named Jên. Jealous of Jên, Shu Niu wanted to kill him. Accordingly, he went with Jên to visit the inner court of the Ruler of Lu. The Ruler of Lu bestowed upon him a jade ring. Jên, making a deep bow, accepted it. But he dared not hang it on his girdle and so told Shu Niu to secure Shu Sun's permission beforehand. Deceiving him, Shu Sun said: "I have already secured his permission for you to wear it." Therefore Jên wore it on his girdle. Shu Niu then purposely said to Shu Sun, "Why does Your Excellency not present Jên to the Ruler?" "Why is the boy worth presenting?" said Shu Sun. "As a matter of fact, Jên has already had several interviews with the Ruler," said Shu Niu. "The Ruler bestowed upon him a jade ring, which he has already started wearing." Thereupon Shu Sun summoned Jên and found him actually wearing it on his girdle. Angered thereby, Shu Sun killed Jên.

Jên's elder brother was named Ping. Shu Niu was also jealous of him and wanted to kill him. So he cast a bell for Ping. When the bell was ready, Ping dared not toll it and so told Shu Niu to secure Shu Sun's permission beforehand. Instead of securing the permission for him, Shu Niu again deceived him and said: "I have already secured his permission for you to toll it." Therefore Ping tolled it. Hearing this, Shu Sun said, "Without securing my permission Ping tolled the bell at his own pleasure." Angered thereby, he banished Ping. Ping ran out and escaped to Ch`i. One year later, Shu Niu on behalf of Ping apologized to Shu Sun. Shu Sun then ordered Shu Niu to recall Ping. Without recalling Ping, Shu Niu in his report said, "I have already summoned Ping, but he is very angry and will not come." Shu Sun, enraged thereby, ordered men to kill him. After the death of the two sons, Shu Sun fell ill, wherefore Shu Niu alone took care of him, discharged the attendants, and would not let anybody else in, saying, "Shu Sun does not want to hear anybody's noise." As a result, Shu Sun ate nothing and starved to death. When Shu Sun was already dead, Shu Niu intentionally held no funeral service, but moved his private storages and treasure boxes, emptied them, and ran away to Ch`i. Indeed, if anybody listens to the words of a trusted crook and in consequence father and son are put to death, it is the calamity of not comparing different views.

When Chiang Yi was sent by the King of Wey as envoy to Ching, he said to the King of Ching: "After entering the boundaries of Your Majesty, thy servant heard that, according to the customary law of your honourable kingdom, a gentleman should neither obscure anybody else's virtue nor expose anybody else's vice. Do you really have such a customary law?" "Certainly, we do!" replied the King. "If so, did the Duke of White's rebellion involve no danger at all? If you uphold such a customary law, then vicious ministers will be pardoned for committing capital crimes."

Duke 14 Ssŭ of Wei had confidence in Ju Erh and loved Princess Shih. Fearing lest both should delude him because of his confidence and love, he purposely ennobled Po Yi to rival Ju Erh and favoured Princess Wey to counteract Princess Shih and said, "This is to make one compare himself or herself with the other." Duke Ssŭ knew the need of suffering no delusion but never got at the right technique. Indeed, if the sovereign does not allow the humble to criticize the noble and the inferior to denounce 15 the superior, but always expects the powers of high and low to balance, then ministers on equal footing will dare to conspire with each other. In so doing he will increase the number of delusive and deceitful officials. Thus was begun the delusion of Duke Ssŭ.

Indeed, if arrows come from a certain direction, then pile iron bars in that direction to guard against them. If arrows come from unknown directions, then make an iron-walled room to guard against all of them. If one guards against them this way, his body will receive no injury. Therefore, in the way one guards against all arrows and receives no injury, the ruler should stand in opposition to all ministers and thereby encounter no culprit.

When P`ang Kung together with the Crown Prince was going to Han-tan as hostage, he said to the King of Wey: "Now, if someone says there in the market-place is a tiger, will Your Majesty believe it?" "No, I will not believe it," replied the King. "Then, if two men say there in the marketplace is a tiger, will Your Majesty believe it?" "No, I will not believe it," was another reply. "If three men say there in the market-place is a tiger, will Your Majesty believe it?" "I will believe it," affirmed the King finally. Thereupon P`ang Kung said: "That there is no tiger in the market-place is clear enough, indeed. Nevertheless, because three men allege the presence of a tiger, the tiger comes into existence. Now that Han-tan is far more distant from the Wey State than the market-place is from the court and those who criticize thy servant are more than three men, may Your Majesty deliberate over the mission of thy servant!" As expected, when P`ang Kung returned from Han-tan, he could not secure an admission 16 into the city.

Annotations to Canon II:

Tung An 17 -yü, Magistrate of the Upper Land in the Chao State, once toured the mountains in the Stony Country. Seeing there a deep gorge with steep sides like high walls, one hundred fathoms deep at least, he asked the villagers in the surrounding vicinities, "Has anybody ever walked into this gorge?" "Nobody," replied they. "Then has any child or baby or any blind or deaf man or any insane or unconscious person ever walked into it?" "No," they replied similarly. "Then has any ox or horse or dog or pig ever walked into it?" "No," was again the reply. Thereat Tung An-yü heaved a deep sigh, saying: "Lo! I have acquired the ability to govern the people. Only if I make my law grant no pardon just like the walk into the gorge always leading to death, then nobody dare to violate it. And everything will be well governed."

Tzŭ-ch`an, Premier of Chêng, when ill and about to die, said to Yu Chi: "After my death you will certainly be appointed Premier of Chêng. Then be sure to handle the people with severity. Indeed, fire appears severe, wherefore men rarely get burned; water appears tender, wherefore men often get drowned. You must not forget to make your penalties severe and do not immerse yourself in tenderness." After Tzŭ-ch`an's 18 death, however, Yu Chi could not bear applying severe penalties. Meanwhile, young men in Chêng followed one another in becoming robbers and established themselves on the Bushy Tail Swamp ready to menace Chêng at any time. Thereupon Yu Chi led chariots and cavalrymen and fought with them. After a combat lasting a whole day and a whole night, he finally was barely able to overcome them. Taking a heavy breath, Yu Chi sighed and said: "Could I have practised my master's instruction early, I would not have come to regret to this point!"

Duke Ai of Lu once asked Chung-ni: "There is the record in the Spring and Autumn Annals that in winter during the month of January 19 frost does not kill grass. 20 Why was there made such a record?" In reply Chung-ni said: "This is to say that what ought to be killed was not killed. Indeed, frost should kill grass but never kills it. Peach- and plum-trees bear fruits in winter. If heaven loses its proper course, even grass and trees will violate and transgress it. How much more would the people do so if the ruler of men loses his true path?"

The Law of Yin would punish anybody throwing ashes into the streets. This Tzŭ-kung regarded as too severe and so asked Chung-ni about it. "They knew the right way of government," replied Chung-ni. "Indeed, ashes thrown into the streets would blow into the eyes of the passers-by and obscure their sight. And if anybody obscures the sight of others, he would irritate them. When irritated, they start quarrelling. On quarrelling, each side would mobilize their three clans 21 to slaughter the other. It means that throwing ashes into the streets leads to the mutual onslaught between the three clans of both sides. Therefore it is right to punish any offender. Indeed, heavy punishment is disliked by the people, but throwing no ashes is easy to them. To make the people do easy things and not ignore their dislike is the right way of government."

According to a different source: According to the Law of Yin, whoever threw ashes on the public road should have his hands cut off. Tzŭ-kung said: "The crime of ash-throwing is light but the punishment of hand-cutting is heavy. Why were the ancients so cruel?" In reply Confucius said: "Not to throw ashes is easy but to have hands cut off is disliked. The ancients considered it easy to enforce the easy and prevent the disliked. Therefore they enacted the law."

Yo Ch`ih, Premier of Central Hills, when appointed envoy to Chao, took one hundred chariots along and selected the wise and able men among his guests to be his highway guards. On the way they became disorderly. "Gentlemen," said Yo Ch`ih, "I regarded you as wise and appointed you highway guards. Now that you are creating a commotion on the way, what is the reason?" The guests, accordingly, resigned from their posts and went away, saying: "Your Excellency does not know the right way of government. Indeed, it needs prestige to keep people 22 obedient and it needs profit to encourage them. 23 Therefore good government is possible. Now, thy servants are Your Excellency's junior guests. Indeed, to employ the junior in disciplining the senior and the low in governing the high and thereby become unable to exercise the authorities of reward and punishment to control the subordinates, is the cause of confusion. Suppose you employ your subordinates on trial, appoint the good ones ministers, and behead those not good. Then how could there be disorder?"

The Law of Kung-sun Yang took minor offences seriously. Major offences are hard for men to commit while small faults are easy for men to remove. To make men get rid of easy faults and not ignore difficult offences is the right way of government. Indeed, when small faults never appear, big offences will not come into existence. For this reason, men committed no crime and disorder did not appear.

According to a different source: Kung-sun Yang said, "In applying penalties, take light ones seriously because if light penalties are not applied, heavy ones will not come at all. This is said to be getting rid of penalties by means of penalties." 24

In the southern part of Ching the bottom of the Clear Water produced gold-dust. Many men in secret dug out gold-dust. In accordance with the prohibition law, a number of gold-diggers were caught and stoned to death in the market-place. Then the authorities built walls to bar the water from the people. Still people never stopped stealing gold-dust. Indeed, no chastisement is severer than stoning to death in the market-place. That people never stopped stealing gold-dust was because the culprits were not always caught. In this connection, supposing someone said, "I will give you the reign over All-under-Heaven and put you to death," then even a mediocre man would not accept the offer. Indeed, the reign over All-under-Heaven is a great advantage, but he would not accept it as he knew he would be put to death. Therefore, if not always caught, people never stop stealing gold-dust despite the danger of being stoned to death. But if they are certain of being put to death, then they dare not accept even the reign over All-under-Heaven.

The Lus once set fire to the Product Swamp. As the northern winds appeared, the fire spread southward. Fearing lest the state capital might be burned, Duke Ai trembled and personally directed the masses in suppressing the fire. Meanwhile, he found nobody around, all having gone to hunt animals and leaving the fire unsuppressed. Thereupon he summoned Chung-ni and asked him about it. "Indeed, hunting animals," said Chung-ni, "is a pleasure and incurs no punishment. But putting out the fire is a hardship and promises no reward. That is the reason why the fire is not put out." "Right," remarked Duke Ai. "It is untimely, however, to offer rewards just in time of emergency like this," added Chung-ni. "If Your Highness has to reward all the participants in the suppression of the fire, then even the whole state wealth is not enough for rewarding them. Suppose we enforce the policy of punishment for the time being." "Good," said Duke Ai. Thereupon Chung-ni issued the order that absence in the suppression of the fire should be sentenced to the same punishment as surrender to or escape from enemies and hunting animals should be sentenced to the same punishment as trespass upon the inner court of the palace. In consequence, the fire was put out before the order spread all over.

Ch`êng Huan 25 said to the King of Ch`i, "Your Majesty is too benevolent but too lenient to bear censuring people." "Isn't it a good name to be too benevolent and too lenient to bear censuring people?" asked the King. In reply Ch`êng Huan said: "It is good to ministers but not what the lord of men ought to do. Indeed, ministers must be benevolent in order to be trustworthy, and must be lenient to people in order to be accessible. If not benevolent, he is not trustworthy; if not lenient to people, he is not accessible." "If so, to whom am I too benevolent and to whom 26 am I too lenient?" asked the King. In reply Ch`êng Huan said: "Your Majesty is too benevolent to the Duke of Hsüeh and too lenient to the various T`iens. 27 If Your Majesty is too benevolent to the Duke of Hsüeh, then chief vassals will show no respect for order. If Your Majesty is too lenient to the T`iens, then uncles and brothers will violate the law. If chief vassals show no respect for order, the army will become weak abroad. If uncles and brothers violate the law, then at home the government will fall into disorder. To have the army weakened abroad and the government disordered at home, this is the fundamental factor ruining the state."

King Hui of Wey said to Pu P`i, "When you hear His Majesty's voice, how does it sound to you?" "Thy servant hears the compassion and beneficence of Your Majesty," was the reply. "Then to what extent will my achievement progress?" asked the King in great delight. "To the extent of ruin," was the reply. "To be compassionate and beneficent is to practise good deeds. Why should such a practice lead to ruin?" wondered the King. In reply Pu P`i said: "To be sure, compassion means leniency; beneficence, fondness of giving favours. If lenient, Your Majesty will not censure those who have faults; if fond of giving favours, Your Majesty will bestow rewards without waiting for merits to appear. If men guilty of faults are not punished and those of no merit are rewarded, isn't ruin the possible outcome?"

The people of the Ch`i State would hold expensive funeral rites, till cloth and silk fabrics were exhausted by clothes and covers, and wood and lumber by inner and outer coffin-walls. Worried over this, Duke Huan said to Kuan Chung: "If the people exhaust cloth this way, nothing will be left for national wealth. If they exhaust wood this way, nothing will be left for military defence. And yet the people will hold expensive funeral rites and never stop How can prohibition be effected?" In reply Kuan Chung said, "If people do anything at all, it is done for profit if not for repute." Thereupon he issued the order that if the thickness of both inner and outer coffin-walls were to go beyond legal limits, the corpse should be cut into pieces and the mourning relatives should be held guilty. Indeed, to cut the corpse into pieces would create no repute; to hold guilty the mourning relatives would produce no profit. Why should the people continue holding expensive funeral rites then?

At the time of Duke 28 Ssŭ of Wei, once a labour convict escaped to the Wey State and there took care of the illness of the queen of King Hsiang. When Duke Ssŭ of Wei heard about this, he sent men out and offered fifty taels of gold for the purchase money of the fugitive. The men went back and forth five times, but the King of Wey refused to surrender the convict. Thereupon Duke Ssŭ decided to exchange the City of Tso-shih for the man. Against this decision all the officials and attendants remonstrated with the King, asking whether it should be practicable to exchange a city for a labour fugitive. "You, gentlemen, do not understand my reason," explained the Ruler. 29 "Indeed, government must be concerned even with small affairs so that no serious disturbance can take place. If the law does not stand firm and censure is not definite, there is no use in keeping ten Tso-shihs. If the law stands firm and censure is definite, there is no harm even by losing ten Tso-shihs." Hearing about this, the King of Wey said, "When one sovereign wants to govern well, if another does not listen to him, it is sinister." Accordingly, he sent off the fugitive in a cart and surrendered him free of charge.

Annotations to Canon III:

The King of Ch`i once asked Viscount Wên how to govern a state well. In reply Viscount Wên said: "Indeed, reward and punishment as means of political control are sharp weapons. Your Majesty should have them in your grip and never show them to anybody else. For ministers turn to reward and honour like wild deer going to luxuriant grass."

The King of Yüeh once asked High Official Chung, "I want to attack Wu. Is it practicable?" "Certainly practicable," replied Chung. "Our rewards are liberal and of faith; our punishments are strict and definite. If Your Majesty wants to know the effect of reward and punishment, why should Your Majesty hesitate to try setting fire to the palace building?" Thereupon fire was set to the palace building, whereas nobody would come to put the fire out. Accordingly, an order was issued that "those who die 30 in the suppression of the fire shall be rewarded like men killed by enemies in war, those who are not killed in the suppression of the fire shall be rewarded like men victorious over enemies in war, and those who do not take part in putting the fire out shall be held guilty as men surrendering to or escaping from enemies". In consequence, men who painted their bodies with mud and put on wet clothes and rushed 31 at the fire numbered three thousands from the left and three thousands from the right. In this way the King knew the circumstances assuring victory.

When Wu Ch`i was Governor of the Western River District under Marquis Wu of Wey, Ch`in had a small castle standing close by the state border. Wu Ch`i wanted to attack it, for if it were not got rid of, it would remain a serious harm to the farmers in the neighbourhood. Yet, to get rid of it, he could not enlist sufficient armed troops. Thereupon he leaned the shaft of a carriage outside the north gate and ordered that anybody able to remove the shaft to the outside of the south gate should be awarded a first-class field and a first-class residence. Yet nobody dared to remove it. As soon as somebody removed it, he was rewarded according to the order. All at once Wu Ch`i placed one picul of red beans outside the east gate and ordered that anybody able to remove it to the outside of the west gate should be rewarded similarly. This time men struggled to remove it. Thereupon he issued the order, "On storming the castle to-morrow, the foremost to rush into it shall be appointed High Officer in the State and awarded a first-class field and a first-class residence." Then men as expected struggled for precedence to rush into the castle, so that they stormed it and took it in a forenoon.

When Li K`uei was Governor of the Upper Land under Marquis Wên of Wey, he wanted every man to shoot well. So he issued the order that men involved in any unsettled legal dispute should be ordered to shoot the target, and those who hit the target should win the suit and those who missed it should lose it. As soon as the order was issued, everybody started to practise archery day and night and never stopped. When they came to war with the Ch`ins, they imposed a crushing defeat upon the enemy inasmuch as every one of them was a good archer.

Once a slum-dweller of Ch`ung-mên in Sung, by observing funeral rites, injured his health and became very thin. Regarding him as filially pious to his parents, the sovereign raised him and appointed him Master of Official Rites. In the following year more than ten men died of physical injury by observing funeral rites. Now, sons observe funeral rites for their parents because they love them. Even then the sons can be encouraged with rewards. How much more can ordinary people be encouraged by the ruler and superior?

The King of Yüeh schemed to attack Wu. As he wanted everybody to make light of death in war, once when he went out and saw an angry frog, he saluted it accordingly. "Why should Your Majesty pay it such respects?" asked his attendants. "Because it possesses a courageous spirit," replied the King. Starting from the following year every year there were more than ten men who begged to offer their heads to the King. From this viewpoint it is clear that honour is sufficient to drive anybody to death.

According to a different source: King Kou-chïen of Yüeh once saw an angry frog and saluted it, when the coachman asked, "Why does Your Majesty salute it?" In reply the King said, "A frog having a courageous spirit as such does deserve my salute!" Hearing this, both gentry and commons said: "The spirited frog was saluted by the King, to say nothing of the gentry and commons who are brave." That year there were men who cut off their heads to death and offered their heads to the King. Therefore, the King of Yüeh in order to wage a successful war of revenge against Wu experimented on his instructions. When he set fire to a tower and beat the drum, the people rushed at the fire because reward was due to the fire; when he faced a river and beat the drum, the people rushed at the water because reward was due to the water; and when on the war front, the people had their heads cut off and stomachs chopped open with no frightened mind because reward was due to combat. If so, it goes without saying that to promote the wise in accordance with the law reward would be even more useful than on those occasions.

Marquis Chao of Han once ordered men to store up old trousers. The attendants remarked: "Your Highness is rather unkind, not giving old trousers to servants around but storing them up." "The reason is not what you, gentlemen, know," said Marquis Chao in response. "I have heard that an enlightened sovereign, though fond of frowning and smiling, always frowns because there is something to frown at and smiles because there is something to smile at. Now, trousers are not as simple as sneers and smiles, nay, they are very different from the latter. I must wait for men of merit and therefore store up the trousers and never give them away.

Eels resemble snakes, silkworms resemble moths. When men see snakes, they are frightened; when they see moths, their hair stands up. Nevertheless, women pick up silkworms and fishermen grasp eels. Thus, where there lies profit, people forget their dislike and all become as brave as Mêng Pên and Chuan Chu.

Annotations to Canon IV:

The King of Wey once said to the King of Chêng 32 : "In origin Chêng and Liang 33 were one state and later separated from each other. We hope we will recover Chêng and annex it to Liang." Worried over this, the Ruler of Chêng summoned all the ministers and consulted with them about the measures against Wey. "It is very easy to cope with Wey," said a prince of Chêng to the Ruler of Chêng. "May Your Majesty tell the Weys that if Chêng is regarded as a former part of Wey and can now be annexed at all, our humble kingdom would like to annex Liang to Chêng, too." Hearing this, the King of Wey gave up the threatening plan.

King Hsüan of Ch`i ordered men to play the Yü instrument and always had three hundred men in the orchestra. Thereupon private gentlemen from the southern suburbs of the capital asked to play the same music for the King. Delighted at them, the King fed several hundreds of them. Upon the death of King Hsüan, King Min ascended the throne and wanted to listen to each one of them. The men went away. One day Marquis Chao of Han remarked, "The Yü players are so numerous that I cannot by any means tell the good ones." In reply T`ien Yen said, "By listening to them each by each."

Chao sent men out to ask for reinforcements from Han through the good office of Shên Tzŭ in order thereby to attack Wey. Shên Tzŭ wanted to speak to the Ruler of Han but was afraid lest His Highness should suspect him of accepting bribes from foreign authorities. Yet if he did not do so, he feared lest he should incur hatred from Chao. Thereupon he sent Chao Shao and Han Ta to see the moves and looks of His Highness before he started speaking. Thus at home he could foretell the opinion of Marquis Chao and abroad could render meritorious service to Chao.

When the allied forces of the three states 34 arrived at the Armour 35 Gorge, the King of Ch`in 36 said to Lou Yüan, "The allied forces of the three states have entered deep into our line. I, the King, am thinking of ceding the territory east of the Yellow River to them and thereby sue for peace. How is the idea?" In reply the latter said: "Indeed, to cede the territory east of the River is a great cost, but to rescue our country from a calamity is a great merit. Nevertheless, to make any decision as such is the duty of the royal uncles and brothers. Why does Your Majesty not summon Prince Ch`ih 37 for consultation?" The King, accordingly, sent for Prince Ch`ih 38 and told him the dilemma. In reply the Prince said: "It will involve a regret either to sue for peace or not to sue for peace. Supposing Your Majesty now ceded the territory east of the River and the allies turned homeward, Your Majesty would certainly say, `The allies from the beginning intended to withdraw. Why should we have given them three cities purposely?' Supposing Your Majesty refused to sue for peace, then the allies would enter the Armour 39 Gorge and seize our whole country in a panic. Then Your Majesty will certainly regret a great deal, saying, 40 `That is because we would not cede the three cities to them.' Therefore, thy servant says, `Your Majesty will regret either suing for peace or not suing for peace.' " "If I have to regret either way at all," said the King, "I prefer to lose the three cities and regret therefor. As it will involve no danger but regret, I decide to sue for peace."

Marquis Ying said to the King of Ch`in: "Your Majesty already conquered the districts of Yüan-yeh, Lan-t`ien, and Yang-hsia, held under control the land within the River boundaries, and dominated the affairs of Liang and Chêng. 41 But because Chao has not yet been subdued, Your Majesty has not yet attained supremacy over All-under-Heaven. Now, to loosen the garrison at Shang-tang is to give up our hold of one district only. But if we thereby march our main column toward Tung-yang, then Han-tan, capital of Chao, will become as precarious as a flea in the mouth while Your Majesty will be able to fold his hands and reign over Allunder-Heaven. Later, subdue the Chaos with troops. However, Shang-tang has peace and joy, and is very wealthy. Thy servant is, therefore, afraid that though he proposes to loosen the garrison there, Your Majesty might not listen. Then what else can be done?" "Certainly, the garrison there shall be loosened," said the King.

Annotations to Canon V:

P`ang Ching, a prefect, sent tradesmen out on a mission. Suddenly he recalled the sheriff from among them, stood with him for awhile, gave him no special instruction and sent him off finally. The tradesmen thought the prefect and the sheriff had had some private talk and therefore would not confide in the sheriff. On the way they dared not commit any villainy.

Tai Huan, Premier of Sung, at night sent men out and said to them, "For several nights I have heard somebody riding in a covered wagon going to the residence of Li Shih. Carefully find that out for me?" The servants came back with the report that they had seen no covered wagon but somebody bringing a bamboo chest as present and speaking with Li Shih, and that after a while Li Shih accepted the chest.

The Sovereign of Chou lost jade bodkins and ordered officials to search for them. For three days they could not find them. The Sovereign of Chou then ordered men to look for them and found them inside the room of some private house. "Now I know the officials do not attend to their duties," remarked the Sovereign of Chou. "Searching for the jade bodkins for three days, they could not find them. The men I ordered to look for them found them out within one day, however." Thereafter the officials became very afraid of him, thinking His Majesty was divine and enlightened.

The Prime Minister of Shang once sent a petty official out, and asked him upon his return what he had seen in the market-place. "Nothing," replied the official. "Yet you must have seen something. What was that?" asked the Premier insistently. "There were outside the south gate of the market-place a number of ox carts, through which one could barely walk," replied the official. Accordingly, the Premier instructed the messenger not to tell anybody else what he had asked about. Then he summoned the mayor, blamed him, and asked him why there was so much ox dung outside the gate of the marketplace. Greatly astonished at the quickness of the Premier's information, the mayor trembled and became afraid of his wide knowledge.

Annotations to Canon VI:

Marquis Chao of Han once held his nails in his fist, pretending to have lost one of his nails, and was very anxious to find it. One of his attendants purposely cut off one of his nails and presented it to His Highness. Thereby Marquis Chao comprehended the insincerity of the attendant.

Marquis Chao of Han sent horsemen out into the local districts. When the servants came back to report, he asked them what they had seen. "Nothing," replied they. "Yet you must have seen something. What was that?" asked Marquis Chao insistently. "There were outside the south gate yellow calves eating rice plants on the left-hand side of the road." Accordingly, Marquis Chao instructed the servants not to divulge what he had asked about. Then he issued the order to the effect "that while seedlings are growing, oxen and horses be excluded from the rice fields; that since despite the order the magistrates have neglected their duties, till a great number of oxen and horses have entered the fields of people, the inspectors quickly count the number of them and report to the authorities; and that if they fail in the matter, their punishment be doubled". Thereupon the inspectors counted all the cattle in the rice fields in three directions and reported to the superior authorities. "Not yet finished," remarked Marquis Chao. So they went out again to investigate the case and found the yellow calves outside the south gate. Thereafter the magistrates, thinking Marquis Chao was clear-sighted, all trembled for fear of his sagacity and dared not commit any wrong.

The Sovereign of Chou issued an order to look for crooked canes. The officials sought after them for several days but could not find any. The Sovereign of Chou sent men out in secret to look for them and found them within one day. Thereupon he said to the officials: "Now I know the officials do not attend to their duties. It is very easy to find crooked canes, but the officials could not find any. I ordered men to look for them and found them within one day. How can you be called `loyal'? " The officials all trembled for fear of his sagacity, thinking His Majesty was divine and enlightened.

When Po P`i was a prefect, his coachman was unclean and had a beloved concubine. So he employed a petty official to pretend to love her in order thereby to detect the secret affairs of the coachman.

Hsi-mên Pao, Prefect of Yah, once pretended to have lost the linchpin of his carriage and therefore ordered officials to look for it. As they could not find it, he sent out men to search for it and found it inside the room of some private house.

Annotations to Canon VII:

When the Lord of Shan-yang 42 heard about the King's suspicion of him, he purposely slandered Chiu Shu, a favourite of the King, in order thereby to know the truth through Chiu Shu's reaction.

When Nao Ch`ih heard about the hatred of the King of Ch`i for him, he fabricated an envoy from Ch`in in order thereby to know the truth.

Some Ch`is wanted to create disturbances and were afraid the King might know their conspiracy beforehand. So they pretended to drive away their favourites and let 43 the King know of it, and thereby dispensed with all suspicion.

Once Tzŭ-chih, Premier of Yen, while seated indoors, asked deceptively, "What was it that just ran outdoors? A white horse?" All his attendants said they had seen nothing running outdoors. Meanwhile, someone ran out after it and came back with the report that there had been a white horse. Thereby Tzŭ-chih came to know the insincerity and unfaithfulness of the attendant.

Once there were litigants. Tzŭ-ch`an separated them and never allowed them to speak to each other. Then he inverted their words and told each the other's arguments and thereby found the vital facts involved in the case.

Duke Ssŭ of Wei once sent men out to go through the pass as travellers. There the officers made them serious trouble, wherefore they bribed the officers with gold. The officers, accordingly, released them. Later, Duke Ssŭ said to the officers, "At a certain time there came certain travellers to go through the pass. Since they gave you gold, you sent them away, did you?" Thereby the officers were frightened and thought Duke Ssŭ was clear-minded.


1. 内儲說上七術. The English rendering of 内外儲說 by Derk Bodde is "Inner and Outer Discussions", which is inaccurate (Fung Yu-lan, History of Chinese Philosophy: The Period of the Philosophers, p. 80).

2. With Kao Hêng 一聼 means 一一聼之.

3. The text puts the topic of each discussion not at the beginning but at the end, which is confusing to readers. Therefore, I have removed it from the end to the beginning.

4. With Yü Yüeh 是以效之 should be 以是效之 and 效 means 明.

5. 氾 should be 池 (vide infra, p. 305).

6. With Wang Hsien-shen 事 should be 使.

7. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 詳 means 佯.

8. With Ku 陽山 should be 山陽.

9. A jester or comedian in the court.

10. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 擁 should be 壅.

11. Thenceforth, "to stand before a cooking stove" came to mean "to befool one's ruler, said of a vicious minister".

12. In Yen Tzŭ's Spring and Autumn Annals.

13. With Wang Wei Yen Tzŭ's Spring and Autumn Annals has 昭 for 哀.

14. With Wang Hsien-shen 君 should be 公, and so throughout this paragraph.

15. With Wang 必 above 坐 is superfluous.

16. With Wang Hsien-shen the Literary Works on Facts and Varieties has 入 in place of 見.

17. With Wang 閼 and 安 were synonyms.

18. With Lu Wên-shao 故 above 子產 is superfluous.

19. The twelfth month (十二月) of the lunar calendar roughly corresponds to the month of January in the solar calendar.

20. With Wang Hsien-shen 菽 should be 草.

21. The clans of the father, the mother, and the wife.

22. I regard 之 above 人 as superfluous.

23. I propose 人 for 之.

24. It means "preventing heavy penalties by means of applying light penalties".

25. 驩 reads 歡.

26. With Wang Wei there should be 所 below 安.

27. Members of the royal family.

28. With Wang Hsien-shen 君 should be 公.

29. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 王 should be 君.

30. With Wang Hsien-shen 者死 should be 死者.

31. With Wang Hsien-shen and Lu Wên-shao 走 should be 赴.

32. 鄭 refers to 韓, as Chêng had been destroyed and incorporated into the territory of Han.

33. The name of the capital of Wey, which later became the alias of the Wey State.

34. Han, Chao, and Wey.

35. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 韓 is a mistake for 函 and 谷 should be supplied below it.

36. With Ku 秦 should be supplied above 王.

37. With Ku 氾 in both cases should be 池.

38. With Ku 氾 in both cases should be 池.

39. 韓 is again a mistake for 函.

40. With Lu Wên-shao and Wang Hsien-shen 王 above 曰 is superfluous.

41. With Wang 梁 and 鄭 refer to 魏 and 韓 respectively.

42. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 陽山 should be 山陽, and I regard 相謂 below 君 as superfluous.

43. With Yü Yüeh 走 below 令 is superfluous.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia