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Chapter XXXVII. Criticisms of the Ancients, Series Two

1Duke Ching passed by the house of Yen Tzŭ and said, "Your residence is small and close by the market. Pray move your home to the Garden of Yü-chang." Repeating his bows, Yen Tzŭ declined the offer, saying, "The home of thy servant 2 , Ying, is poor and dependent on the market for daily supplies. As every morning and evening we have to run to the market, we cannot live too far away from the place." Duke Ching laughed and said, "If your family is used to shopping at the market, do you know the prices of goods?" At that time Duke Ching was busy inflicting many punishments. Therefore, Yen Tzŭ replied, "The shoes of the footless men are dear; the ordinary shoes cheap." "Why?" asked the Duke. "Because there are many punishments of foot-cutting," replied Yen Tzŭ. Astonished thereat, Duke Ching changed his colour and said, "Am I as cruel as that?" Meanwhile he abolished five articles under the criminal law.

Some critic says: Yen Tzŭ's making dear the shoes of footless men was not sincere. He simply wanted to utilize the words to eliminate the number of punishments. This was the calamity of his ignorance of the bases of political order. Indeed, punishments equivalent to crimes are never too many; punishments not equivalent to crimes are never too few. 3 Instead of informing the ruler about the punishments that were not equivalent to crimes, Yen Tzŭ persuaded him that the punishments were too many. This was the calamity of his tactlessness. When defeated troops are censured, though the punishments number hundreds and thousands, yet they still keep running away. When penalties for settling order out of confusion are inflicted, though the punishments seem innumerable, yet the culprits are still not exterminated. Now that Yen Tzŭ never considered whether or not the punishments were equivalent to the crimes but took their extraordinary number as the basis of his remark, was his counsel not absurd? Verily, who spares weeds and reeds, hurts the ears of the rice-plants; who tolerates thieves and robbers, injures good citizens. Similarly, to loosen censure and punishment and give pardons and favours, is to benefit the crooks and injure the good. It is not the way to attain political order.

Once Duke Huan of Ch`i was drunk and dropped his crown. Feeling disgraced thereby, he did not hold court for three days. Kuan Chung said, "This is not what the ruler of a state should feel disgraced by. Why does Your Highness not wipe away such disgrace by means of good government?" "Right," replied the Duke, and, accordingly, opened the granaries and gave aid to the poor, and made a thorough investigation of the convicts and let out the misdemeanants. In the course of three days, the people began to sing his praises, saying:

Duke, Duke, Duke! We have asked in vain,
Why doesn't he drop his crown again?

Some critic says: Kuan Chung wiped away Duke Huan's disgrace among small men but displayed his disgrace before superior men. 4 To make Duke Huan open the granaries, give aid to the poor, investigate the convicts, and let out the misdemeanants, was not righteous and not able to wipe away the disgrace. Granting it to be a righteous act, Duke Huan and neglected such righteousness that he dropped his crown, and then began to act righteously. If so, the righteous act was done because Duke Huan had neglected 5righteousness rather than because he had dropped his crown. Thus, though he might have wiped away the disgrace of dropping the crown among small men, yet he had already left the disgrace of neglecting 6 righteousness before gentlemen. Moreover, to open the granaries and give aid to the poor was to reward men of no merit; to investigate the convicts and let out the misdemeanants was to inflict no punishment upon offenders. Indeed, if men of no merit are rewarded, then the people will enjoy the godsends and hope for the same from the sovereign; if offenders are not punished, then the people will take no warning and become liable to misconduct. This is the root of confusion. How could it wipe away any disgrace at all?

In bygone days, King Wên invaded Yü, defeated Chü, and took Fêng. After he had waged these three campaigns, King Chow came to dislike him. Afraid thereof, he offered to present the King with the land to the west of the Lo River and the country of the Red Soil, altogether one thousand li square in area, and asked him to abolish the punishment of climbing the roasting pillar. Thereat All-under-Heaven were delighted. Hearing about this, Chung-ni said: "How benevolent King Wên was! By making light of a country of one thousand li square, he asked for the abolishment of the punishment of climbing the roasting pillar. How wise King Wên was! By offering the land of one thousand li square, he won the hearts of All-under-Heaven."

Some critic says: Chung-ni thought King Wên was wise. Was he not mistaken? Indeed, the wise man knows the unlucky and dangerous zone and can avoid it, so that he never suffers the calamity himself. Suppose the reason why King Wên was disliked by Chow was his inability to win the hearts of the people. Then though he might seek to win the hearts of the people in order thereby to dispel Chow's dislike, yet Chow would dislike him the more because he made a great success in winning the hearts of the people. Besides, he made light of his territory and thereby won the hearts of the people, which would double Chow's suspicion of him. No wonder, he was fettered in jail at Yu-li. The saying of the elder of Chêng, "Have personal experience of the Way of Nature, do not do anything, and reveal nothing," would be the most suitable warning to King Wên. It is the way to incur nobody's suspicion. Thus, Chung-ni in regarding King Wên as wise fell short of this saying.

Duke P`ing of Chin asked Shu Hsiang, saying: "Formerly Duke Huan of Ch`i called nine conferences of the feudal lords and brought All-under-Heaven under one rule. Was that due to the abilities of the ministers or the ability of the ruler?" In reply Shu Hsiang said, "Kuan Chung was skilful in cutting the shape of the dress; Pin Hsü-wu was skilful in sewing 7 the seams of the dress; and Hsi Pêng was skilful in decorating the dress with plaits and bindings. When the dress was ready, the ruler took it and wore it. The dress-making was thus due to the minister's abilities. What ability did the Ruler have?" Thereat Musician K`uang lay down upon the harp and laughed. "Grand Tutor, why are you laughing?" asked the Duke. "Thy servant," replied the Musician K`uang, "is laughing at the reply Shu Hsiang has given to Your Highness. As a rule, who ministers to a ruler is like a cook synthesizing the five tastes and serving the food to the master. If the master refuses to eat it, who dare force him? May thy servant compare the ruler to farming soil and ministers to grass and trees. The soil must be fertile before grass and trees grow big. Similarly, the Hegemony of Duke Huan was due to the ruler's ability. What abilities did the ministers have?"

Some critic says: The replies of both Shu Hsiang and Musician K`uang were equally eccentric views. Verily, to bring All-under-Heaven under one rule and call nine conferences of the feudal lords was a brilliant achievement. However, it was neither entirely due to the ability of the ruler nor entirely due to the abilities of the ministers. Formerly, Kung Chi-ch`i served Yü, Hsi Fu-ch`i served Ts`ao. Both ministers were so wise that their words always hit the truth of affairs and the execution of the counsels could always harvest successful results. Yet why did Yü and Ts`ao go to ruin? It was because they had able ministers but no able rulers. Likewise, Ch`ien Shu 8 served Yü, 9 but Yü went to ruin; then he served Ch`in, which attained Hegemony. Not that Ch`ien Shu was stupid in Yü and wise in Ch`in, but that serving under an able ruler was different from serving under an unable ruler. 10 Therefore, Hsiang's saying that the success was due to the abilities of the ministers was not true.

Formerly, Duke Huan built two markets inside the palace and two hundred gates of harems between them. Everyday he wore no hat and took drives with women. After he got Kuan Chung, he became the first of the Five Hegemonic Rulers. 11 After he lost Kuan Chung, he got Shu Tiao with the result that following his death worms crawled outdoors12 while the corpse still lay unburied. If success was not due to the ability of the minister, Duke Huan would not have attained Hegemony because of Kuan Chung. Were it entirely due to the ability of the ruler, he would not have suffered any disturbance because of Shu Tiao. Formerly, Duke Wên was so much in love with his Ch`i wife that he forgot the necessity to return to his native country. Therefore, Uncle 13 Fan made a forceful remonstration with him and thereby enabled him to go back to the Chin State. Thus, Duke Huan brought All-under-Heaven under one rule because of Kuan Chung while Duke Wên attained Hegemony because of Uncle Fan. Therefore, Musician K`uang's saying that the success was due to the ability of the ruler was also not true. On the whole, the Five Hegemonic Rulers could accomplish their achievements and reputations in All-underHeaven because in every case both ruler and minister had abilities. Hence the saying: "The replies of both Shu Hsiang and Musician K`uang were equally eccentric views."

At the time of Duke Huan of Ch`i, once an envoy from Chin arrived. When the chief usher asked about the kind of treatment he should be accorded, Duke Huan thrice said, "Ask Uncle Chung about it." Therefore the clown laughed, saying, "How easy it is to be a ruler! First Your Highness says, `Ask Uncle Chung!' and next also says, `Ask Uncle Chung!' " In response Duke Huan said: "I have heard that the ruler of men has a hard time to find right men for office but has an easy time when making use of them. I already had a hard time to find Uncle Chung. After having found him, why should I not have an easy time?"

Some critic says: The reply of Duke Huan to the clown was not what the ruler of men ought to have made. Duke Huan thought the ruler of men must undergo the hardship of finding right men for office. Why should finding men be a hardship at all? Yi Yin became a cook and thereby 14 ingratiated himself with King T`ang; Pai-li Hsi became a war prisoner and thereby ingratiated himself with Duke Mu. To become a war prisoner is a humiliation; to become a cook is a disgrace. Yet because the worthy's worry about the world is urgent, he would go through humiliation and disgrace and thereby approach the ruler. If so, the rulers of men should cause only the worthies no obstacle. Verily, to find right men for office does not constitute any difficulty to the lord of men. Moreover, to offices and commissions worthies are appointed; with titles and bounties men of merit are rewarded. Once offices and commissions are established and titles and bounties are paraded, talented men will appear of themselves. Then why should the ruler of men have any hardship at all?

Likewise, personnel administration is not an easy thing. The lord of men, while using men, must regulate them with rules and measures, and compare their deeds with their words in the way forms are compared with names. If any project is lawful, it should be carried out; if unlawful, it should be stopped. If the result is equivalent to the proposal, the proposer should be rewarded; if not, he should be punished. Rectify the ministers with forms and names, regulate the subordinates with rules and measures. This principle should not be neglected. Then what ease does the ruler of men have?

Thus finding men is not a hardship; using men is not easy. Consequently, Duke Huan's saying, "The ruler has a hard time to find men but has an easy time when using them," was not true. Moreover, Duke Huan went through no hardship to find Kuan Chung. Kuan Chung did not die in the cause of loyalty to his first master, but surrendered himself to Duke Huan. Besides, Pao Shu made light of his own official position, gave way to the able man, and recommended him for the post of premiership. Clearly enough, Duke Huan's finding Kuan Chung was not any hardship at all.

After having found Kuan Chung, how could he have an easy time all at once? Kuan Chung was not like Duke T`an of Chou. Duke T`an of Chou acted for the Son of Heaven for seven years till King Ch`êng reached full age, when he returned the reins of government to him. This was not because he thought of the welfare of All-under-Heaven, but because he wanted to perform his duty. Indeed, who does not usurp the orphan's throne and thereby rule over All-under-Heaven, never will desert the dead ruler and serve the enemy; who deserts the dead ruler and serves the enemy, will not always hesitate to usurp the orphan's throne and thereby rule over All-under-Heaven; and who does not hesitate to usurp the orphan's throne and thereby rule over All-under-Heaven, will not hesitate to usurp the ruler's state. Now Kuan Chung was originally a minister under Prince Chiu. Once he even schemed to assassinate Duke Huan, but in vain. Following the death of his old master, he served Duke Huan. Clearly enough, in matters of submission and desertion Kuan Chung was not as great as Duke T`an of Chou. 15 Nobody could tell whether or not he would remain worthy. 16 Supposing he would remain worthy, then he might do the same as King T`ang and King Wu. T`ang and Wu were originally ministers under Chieh and Chow respectively. Chieh and Chow caused confusion, wherefore T`ang and Wu deprived them of the throne. Now that Duke Huan easily stood above Kuan Chung, he was doing the same as Chieh and Chow did standing above T`ang and Wu. Duke Huan was in danger then. Supposing Kuan Chung should become an unworthy man, then he might do the same as T`ien Ch`ang. T`ien Ch`ang was a minister to Duke Chien but murdered his master. Now that Duke Huan stood easily above Kuan Chung, he was doing the same as Duke Chien standing easily above T`ien Ch`ang. Again Duke Huan was in danger.

Thus clearly 17 enough, Kuan Chung was not as great as Duke T`an of Chou. However, nobody could tell whether he would do the same as T`ang and Wu or as T`ieh Ch`ang. Should he do the same as T`ang and Wu, there would be the danger of Chieh and Chow; should he do the same as T`ien Ch`ang, there would be the catastrophe of Duke Chien. After having found Uncle Chung, how could he have an easy time all at once? Supposing Duke Huan took Kuan Chung into service because he was sure he would never deceive him, then he could direct ministers who were not deceitful. However, though at one time he could direct ministers who were not deceitful, yet as he later entrusted Shu Tiao and I Ya with the same affairs which he had committed to the hands of Kuan Chung with the result that worms crawled outdoors 18 while his corpse lay unburied, it goes without saying that Duke Huan could not tell between ministers who would deceive the ruler and those who would not deceive the ruler. Nevertheless, so exclusively he put his trust in ministers when he took them into service! Hence the saying: "Duke Huan was a stupid sovereign."

Li K`o 19 governed Central Hills. The magistrate of Hard Paths presented his fiscal report, in which the annual revenue appeared enormous in amount. Therefore, Li K`o said: "Speeches, eloquent and delightful to the ear but in discord with the cause of righteousness, are called `entrancing words.' The revenue, enormous in amount but not due to the products from mountains, forests, swamps, and valleys, is called `an attractive income.' The gentleman never listens to attractive words nor accepts any attractive income. You had better leave your office."

Some critic says: Li Tzŭ proclaimed the theory, "Speeches, eloquent and delightful to the ear but in discord with the cause of righteousness, are called `attractive words'." To be sure, the eloquence of speeches depends upon the speaker while their delight rests with the listener. Thus, the speaker is not the listener. What he called "discord with the cause of righteousness" is not concerned with the listener. It must be concerned with what is heard. The listener must be either a rascal or a gentleman. The rascal, having no cause of righteousness, must be unable to estimate the speeches from the standpoint of righteousness; whereas the gentleman, estimating them from the standpoint of righteousness, is certainly not delighted at them. Verily, the argument that speeches, eloquent and delightful to the ear, are in discord with the cause of righteousness must be an absurd saying.

The argument that a revenue enormous in amount is an attractive income is not applicable to many cases. Li Tzŭ did not stop corruptions early enough and let them creep into the fiscal report. In this way he allowed criminal offences to be accomplished. He had no way of knowing why the revenue was enormous. If the enormous revenue was due to a bountiful harvest, then though the amount was doubled, what could be done about it? If in doing any kind of work people look after the harmony of the positive and negative factors 20 ; if in planting trees they follow the suitable periods of the four seasons; and if at dawn and at dusk there is no suffering from cold or heat; then revenue will be enormous. If important duties are not obstructed by small profits; if public welfare is not injured by private interest; if men exert their strength to tillage; and if women devote their energies to weaving; then revenue will be enormous. If the methods of animal husbandry are improved, the qualities of the soil are examined, the six animals 21 flourish, and the five cereals abound, then revenue will be enormous. If weights and measures are made clear; if topographical features are carefully surveyed; and if through the utilization of boats, carts, and other mechanical devices, the minimum amount of energy is used to produce the maximum amount of efficiency; then revenue will be enormous. If traffic on markets, cities, passes, and bridges is facilitated, so that needy places are supplied with sufficient commodities; if merchants from abroad flock to the country and foreign goods and money come in; if any unnecessary expenditure is cut down, extravagant clothing and food are saved, houses and furniture are all limited to necessities, and amusements and recreations are never over-emphasized; then revenue will be enormous. In these cases, the increase in revenue is due to human effort. Granted that natural events, winds, rain, seasons, cold, and heat are normal and the territory remains the same, then if the people can reap the fruits of the abundant year, then revenue will be enormous too. Thus, human effort and heavenly support both are the main factors of increases in revenue, but the products from mountains, forests, swamps, and valleys are not. Verily, to call the enormous revenue not due to the products from mountains, forests, swamps, and valleys "an attractive income," is a tactless saying.

When Viscount Chien of Chao was laying siege to the outer walls 22 of the capital of Wei, he covered himself with a shield and a turret both made of rhinoceros-hide and stood at a spot beyond the reach of arrow-heads. Therefrom he beat the drum, but the warriors made no progress. Throwing down the drumsticks, Duke Chien said, "Alas! My men are already exhausted." In response a herald named Chu Kuo took off his helmet and said: "Thy servant has heard, `The ruler may be incapable, but no warrior is ever exhausted.' In bygone days, 23 our former ruler, Duke Hsien, annexed seventeen states, subdued thirty-eight states, and won twelve wars, which altogether was due to his way of making use of the people. Following the death of Duke Hsien, Duke Hui ascended the throne. As he continued lewd, flighty, cruel, and violent, and pleasured himself in beautiful women, the Ch`ins invaded the country at their pleasure and came within the distance of seventeen li from the city of Chiang, which also was due to his way of using the people. Following the death of Duke Hui, Duke Wên accepted the reins of government, besieged Wei, took Yeh, and at the battle of Ch`êng-p`u defeated the Chings five times, till he attained the highest fame in All-under-Heaven, which also was due to his way of using men. Thus, the ruler may be incapable, but no warrior is ever exhausted." Accordingly, Duke Chien discarded the shield and the turret and stood on a spot within the reach of arrow-heads. Therefrom he beat the drum, under whose influence the warriors fought and won a great victory. Thereupon Duke Chien said, "One thousand armoured chariots given to me would not be as effective as one counsel heard from Chu Kuo."

Some critic says: The herald did not speak to the point. He simply reminded his master that Duke Hui on account of his personnel administration failed while Duke Wên on account of his personnel administration attained hegemony, but did not yet explain to him the right technique of personnel administration. Therefore, Duke Chien should not have discarded the shield and the turret so soon. When the father is besieged, to slight personal safety and venture the arrowheads is the way the dutiful son loves his father. However, among one hundred there may be one dutiful son loving his father to such an extent. Now that the herald thought the people could fight even in the face of personal dangers, he presumed that all the sons of the hundred clans 24 would serve the superior in the same way as the dutiful son loves his father. Such was the absurd idea of the herald. To love profit and dislike injury is the tendency everybody has. Therefore, if reward is big and trusted, everybody will rush at enemies with ease. If punishment is heavy and definite, nobody 25 will run 26 away from enemies. Among one hundred men there is not even one who would practise high virtue and die in the cause of loyalty to the superior, yet everybody is equally fond of profit and afraid of punishment. Therefore, in advising the leader of the masses not to go on the way which they would follow by necessity but to count on such virtue as none out of a hundred would practise, the herald was certainly not yet aware of the right method of making use of the people.


1. 難二.

2. With Wang Hsien-shên 且 above 嬰 should be 臣 ch`ên, minister.

3. Unjust punishments, however few in number, are still unjust.

4. With Wang Hsien-shên, small men regard dropping the crown as a disgrace while gentlemen regard dropping righteousness as a disgrace.

5. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 行 should be 遺.

6. 宿 should be supplied below 遺.

7. With Kao Hêng 削 bove 縫 means 縫, too.

8. As a matter of fact, it was Pai Hsi who first served Yü and later went to Ch`in. Chien Shu was brought in by Pai-li Hsi, but he never served Yü.

9. With Yü Yüeh 干 should be 虞, and so throughout the criticism.

10. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 臣 should be 君.

11. 五百 should be 五伯 which means 五霸.

12. With Wang Haien-shen 尸 should be 戶.

13. 咎犯 should be 舅犯.

14. With Yü Yüeh 自 in both cases should be 由.

15. With Chang P`ang and Wang Hsien-shen 亦以明矣 should be supplied below 非周公旦.

16. With Chang and Wang 然其賢與不賢 should be supplied above 未可知也.

17. With Wang 以 above 明 should be 已.

18. With Wang 尸 should be 戶.

19. 兌 should be 克 (v. supra, Work XXXIII, p. 68).

20. 陰陽.

21. Namely, horses, oxen, sheep, chickens, dogs, and pigs.

22. With Wang Hsien-shen 郛郭 should be 附郭.

23. Hirazawa's edition has 臣聞之 above 昔者, which is wrong.

24. 百族 like 百姓 "the hundred surnames" means the masses of people

25. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 失 above 人 should be 夫.

26. With Wang Hsien-shën, Chao Yung-hsien's edition has 北 in place of 比.

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