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非時君主不用善也，才下知淺，不能用大才也。夫能禦驥騄者，必王良也；能臣禹、稷、皋陶者，必堯、舜也。禦百里 之手，而以調千里之足，必摧衡折軛之患；有接具臣之才，而以禦大臣之知，必有閉心塞意之變。故至言棄捐，聖賢 距逆，非憎聖賢，不甘至言也。聖賢務高，至言難行也。
許 由，皇者之輔也，生於帝者之時；伯夷，帝者之佐也，出於王者之世，並由道德，俱發仁義，主行道德，不清不留；主為仁義，不 高不止，此其所以不遇也。
商鞅三說秦孝公，前二說不聽，後一說用者：前二，帝王之論；後一，霸者之議也。夫持帝王之論，說霸者之主， 雖精見距；更調霸說，雖粗見受。何則？精遇孝公所不欲得，粗遇孝公所欲行也。故說者不在善，在所說者善之； 才不待賢，在所事者賢之。
Chapter IV. Success and Luck (Fêng-yü).
By one's conduct one may always prove oneself a worthy man, but one can never be sure of success in one's official career. Worthiness is the outcome of natural gifts, but success depends upon time. Some one may have remarkable talents, and lead a pure life; that is by no means a guarantee that he will become noble and exalted, and another of poor talents and base conduct is not therefore doomed to wretchedness and meanness. It happens that men of genius and purity are unsuccessful and sink back into the vile vulgus, whereas the narrow-minded and the vicious rise above the heads of all others.
Every age has its own way of promoting scholars, and the scholars likewise have their methods of advancement, 1 but promotion is good luck and rejection bad one. Those who are illustrious, and live in high spheres are not necessarily clever, they are merely lucky, and those whose position is mean and low are not necessarily stupid, but unlucky. The lucky may eventually behave most disgracefully, yet they will find favour at the court of Chieh, and the unlucky may be ever so pure and disinterested, they will be slighted in the palace of Yao.2
This good or bad luck may occur in different ways. Sometimes a worthy person assists a wicked man, or great talents are coupled with small ones, or there are great talents on both sides, but the ways of one party are pure, and those of the other filthy, or a person is devoid of virtue, but ingratiates himself by his ability, or has no skill, but pleases by his beauty.
Wu Yuan3 and Po P`i4 both served Fu Ch`ai Po P`i rose to the highest honours, and Wu Yuan was put to death. Their conduct was different, but their master the same. Sometimes the conduct is the same, but the master different, that is also good and bad luck. Such was the case of Yi Yin5 and Chi Tse.6 Both of them possessed the same talents, but Yi Yin became prime minister and Chi Tse, a slave. The former met with Ch`êng T`ang, the latter with Chou of Shang.
Provided that a good sovereign is served with goodness, that he wishes to govern accordingly, and that a minister helps him with virtue and talents, then their conduct agrees, and luck is the necessary consequence. But if a bad prince is served with goodness, then he declines to adopt this mode of government; his minister may assist him in the most loyal manner, but their ways and principles are so conflicting, that bad luck is the inevitable result.
Sometimes a wise and sage minister may come across a prince willing to practice his theories, but fails at the end. That was the case of Confucius and Mencius. Confucius was short of provisions in Ch`ên and Ts`ai,7 and Mencius distressed in Ch`i and Liang.8
When there is not the proper time, a sovereign does not employ able men, and those whose talents are small and whose wisdom is shallow cannot make use of men of genius. To drive a Bayardo or a Green Ear9 one must be a Wang Liang,10 and to use a Yü, a Chi11 and a Kao Yao as ministers a Yao or a Shun is required. If a man whose hands are able to manage a hundred Li horse endeavours to master a courser making a thousand Li 12 , he is sure to have a disaster, breaking the yoke and rending the halter, and should a prince be able to appreciate the talents of ordinary officials, use the wisdom of a great minister, his heart will prove obdurate and his mind impervious to reason. Thus excellent advice is repudiated, and worthies and sages are rejected, not because they are hated, or because their advice is disliked, but their ideals are too high, and their advice is hard to follow.
When a great talent falls in with a small one, the latter cannot grasp it, and bad luck must be the result. When a minister of great talents meets with a very talented prince, there will be either good or bad luck, Shun and Hsü Yu,13T`ai Kung and Po Yi are instances. Shun and Hsü Yu were both sages, living at the time of T`ang.14 Both fell under the notice of Yao. Shun continued the imperial sway, whereas Hsü Yu absconded in a mountain forest.
T`ai Kung and Po Yi15 were both worthies who rose together in the kingdom of Chou. Both saw Wu Wang. T`ai Kung became a feudal lord, and Po Yi was starved to death. The principles of worthies and sages are the same, their intentions similar, and their aims agree, but the actions of Shun and T`ai Kung were fitting, and the conduct of Hsü Yu and Po Yi, mal à propos. They were not born in the proper age, and did not appear at the proper time.
Even if the principles are the same, there are differences in spite of this agreement, and even if the intentions agree, there are still discrepancies, for principles may be refined or coarse, and intentions more or less pure.
Hsü Yu was a helpmate for an emperor, but he was born under a ruler, and Po Yi would have assisted a ruler, but rose under the reign of a king. 16 Both walked the path of virtue, and practised benevolence and justice. Making virtue their main principle, they did not care but for what was pure, and insisting upon benevolence and justice, they felt at ease in the highest spheres only. That was the cause of their bad luck.
Yao was filthy and Shun impure, Wu Wang bloodthirsty and T`ai Kung a cruel tyrant. They were all equally squalid and equally coarse, and their doings in harmony. 17 That was the cause of (T`ai Kung's) luck.
Thus when Shun was king of the world, Kao Yao assisted him in his administration, whereas Pei Jen Wu Tsê concealed himself in the remotest hiding place and was seen no more. 18 When Yü was king, Po Yi acted as his helpmate, whereas Po Ch`êng Tse Kao declined to take office and tilled the ground. 19 The talents of Kao Yao did not surpass those of Pei Jên Wu Tsê, nor did Po Yi outshine Po Ch`êng Tse Kao, but the two former were promoted, while the two latter took their refuge into obscurity. The actions of those promoted were à propos, the conduct of those who retired were the reverse. The circumstances under which they retired were different. Notwithstanding their humble condition, they did not wish to advance. The princes did not necessarily reject their proposals or dislike their ideas, but there was no mutual sympathy.
Shang Yang20 spoke three times to Duke Hsiao of Ch`in. The first two speeches were not listened to, but the last was accepted. The first were fit for emperors and kings only, the last an overture appropriate for an usurper. When he addressed a leading prince with words fit for an emperor or a king, they were spurned in spite of their elegance, but when they were made to suit an usurper, they were accepted in spite of their coarseness. Refinement was lost upon Duke Hsiao, coarseness was what he liked. It matters not whether a speech be good, but whether he who is spoken to think it so, nor must faculties be rare, provided only that he in whose service they are employed appreciates them.
The words of the groom 21 were platitudes, but the countrypeople liked them, and Tse Kung's address was full of meaning, but the peasants would not listen to them.
A piper played a beautiful melody. Since the king of Yueh did not like it, he fell into a vulgar tune at which the king was enraptured. Consequently, he who performs something excellent for a prince who does not care for good things, does not find favour in spite of his excellence, whereas another who does something bad for a sovereign who wants bad things, does not incur his displeasure notwithstanding his badness.
In this manner minor abilities may please the sovereign. Pleasing means good luck, not pleasing, bad luck. Some do not possess such wanton talents, but ingratiate themselves by their astuteness and cunning, and thus become lucky, e. g. the official who stole the hair-pin, and the companion who caused the cocks to crow. The former became intimate with Tse Fan,22 and the latter won the good graces of Mêng Ch`ang.23Tse Fan liked the thieving official, and Mêng Ch`ang the wily companion.
If anybody is useful to a prince who can rely upon him, he is sure to be successful. Sometimes a man may not be of direct use, but the ruler likes him, as was the case with Chi Ju24 and Têng T`ung.25Chi Ju was a favourite of the emperor Hsiao Hui Ti, and Têng T`ung, of Hsiao Wên Ti. They were not endowed with the smallest talents, or the slightest abilities, but they had a handsome body, graceful bones, a smooth skin, and a wonderful complexion. People are fond of beautiful looks, consequently their luck was ensured.
It may happen that even people with ugly faces and bad looks are represented to a ruler as very attractive, as were Mu Mu26 and Wu Yen.27Mu Mu was sent to the emperor Huang Ti, and Wu Yen chosen by the king of Ch`i. Therefore virtue and vice may be predetermined, but it is difficult to foresee success, because the likes and dislikes of a prince are uncertain, and the promotion of an official cannot be known beforehand.
Happening to fall in with an employer, is the proper thing, and to harmonise with him, means advancement. Those who are promoted need not always be clever, or those who are not, unintelligent. He who, when meeting with a prince, finds favour, advances, he who does not, loses his opportunity.
There is a wide-spread opinion that wise men can be successful and that, if they are not, it is their own fault, because they do not adapt themselves to their surroundings. They should watch the sovereign to learn his views, regulate their mind and cultivate their talents, pay attention to their words, and be careful about their expressions, await an opportunity to offer their services, and see how they can be useful to the ruler. Would they not be lucky then? But now it is different. They cultivate useless talents and give impracticable advice. In summer they offer a stove, and in winter a fan. They do things which are not wanted, and say words which no one likes to hear. Then, of course, their bad luck and their misfortune is certain, for how could they thus become happy?
Talents must be useful and advice profitable, every body knows that, but very often the useless obtain happiness, or those who have benefited their master, suffer punishment. And in summer time a stove may be used to dry moisture, or a fan in winter to fan the fire. Other people can be imitated, but it is impossible to meet a ruler's wishes. Words may be changed, but talents cannot be transmuted. When the reigning sovereign is fond of learning, and somebody is a literary man, he suits him. When, on the other hand, the prince is addicted to militarism, that same person would not suit him.
Wên Wang did not like war, and Wu Wang was not a friend of peace. A philosophical prince does not care for action, and an active one does not like arguments. Literature and words can quickly be learned by study, but actions and talents cannot be accomplished all at once. He who has not thoroughly mastered a science, cannot give the proper names, and if his expressions are mostly not correct, he does not find favour with the sovereign. If a study be made in a hasty manner, and names be given in a hurried way, one says that the faculties of the person in question are insufficient and not worth notice. How then should such a man be able to understand the prince and offer his remarks, or step forward and show his abilities?
Of old during the Chou time, there was a great number of unsuccessful scholars. They were old, had white hair, and stood crying on the road-side. Others inquired what was the cause of their tears. They rejoined:---
"We scholars have had no chance. We are so sad, because we are old and have lost the right time. Hence our tears."
`How is it possible,' said their interlocutors, `that you scholars never had any chance?'
"When we were young," replied the scholars, "we studied literature, and after we had completed our studies, we wished to take office, but the sovereign liked to use old men. This prince died, and his successor only wanted warriors. Then we turned to military science, but, when we had mastered all its branches, the military prince likewise died, and the young prince ascended the throne. He wished to employ young men only. Meanwhile we had become old. Thus we never had the slightest chance." 28
For officials there exists a propitious time which cannot be sought, for it is impossible to imitate other people, or to know a prince's character, and still less can this be done by a man with the highest principles and loftiest aims who is not influenced by profit, or by persons with a strong nature and firm character who do not care for a prince. Moreover, luck cannot be predetermined, and advice cannot be given in advance. By accident, one may meet with success and fall in with a sovereign's view, therefore they speak of luck. To observe a prince's ways, and to choose one's words with a view to acquiring honour, may be called calculation, but not luck.
In spring the seed sown grows, in autumn it is cut and harvested. Seeking things one obtains them, and doing things one completes them, but we cannot call that luck. That which comes of itself without any seeking, or is completed of itself without any doing, is called luck. It is like picking up things lost on the road, or taking something thrown away in the country, like the fertility of heaven and the productiveness of earth, or the assistance of ghosts and the succour of the spirits. That the spirit of a Ch`in Hsi secretly benefits, and the mind of a Pao Shu silently promotes a man, are cases of luck. 29 But ordinary people cannot argue on good and bad luck. They extol the lucky and decry the unlucky. They look to success and ask what has been accomplished, but cannot appreciate conduct or value powers and talents.
1. At different times different qualities are appreciated, and scholars use different methods for obtaining advancement.
2. Chieh, the last emperor of the Hsia dynasty, as usual the representative of bad government, and Yao a synonym for an excellent ruler.
3. Cf. Vol. I, p. 140, Note 2.
4. First minister of Fu Ch`ai, king of Wu, 495-473 b.c. The text has , but we are informed by a note that in lieu of we should read . The Shi-chi writes the name:---. See Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. IV, p. 523.
5. Minister of Ch`êng T`ang, the founder of the Shang dynasty.
6. On Viscount Chi see Vol. I, p. 354. He was thrown into prison for having remonstrated against the excesses of his master Chou Hsin, the last emperor of the Shang dynasty.
7. Cf. Vol. I, p. 155, Note 2.
8. The two States where the philosopher passed a great deal of his life.
9. , two of the eight famous steeds of King Mu.
10. A famous charioteer.
11. Cf. Vol. I, p. 130, Note 3.
12. A horse running a thousand Li a day, an impossible task, the quickest couriers making but 5-600 Li with many relays.
13. A hermit, see Vol. I, p. 439, Note 1.
14. Viz. Yao, prince of T`ang.
15. Cf. Vol. I, p. 168, Note 2.
16. Observe the gradiation:--- rendered by emperor, ruler, king. Wang Ch`ung wishes to express by these terms three different degrees of sagehood.
17. This statement in the mouth of a Chinese is little short of blasphemy, for the men thus described are universally held to be China's greatest sages, even to Confucius. But we must refer it to what has been said above on the different degrees of virtue, which may be more or less pure and more or less refined. The highest degree is ascribed to Hsü Yu and Po Yi only, compared to whom even Yao and Shun appear coarse and vulgar.
18. Chuang Tse makes Pei Jên Wu Tsê a friend of Shun who wished to resign the empire to him, but the former declined and drowned himself. (Cf. Giles, Chuang Tse p. 382.)
19. According to Chuang Tse, Po Ch`êng Tse Kao had been a vassal of Yao and Shun, but disliked Yü's system of government. (Giles eod. p. 142.)
20. On Shang Yang see Vol. I, p. 171, Note 2.
21. The groom of Confucius who spoke to the country people who had taken away his master's horse. Cf. Vol. I, p. 69 and Huai Nan Tse XVIII, 19r.
22. A general of Ch`u who died in b.c. 575. The story here alluded is told in Huai Nan Tse XII, 15r.There was a clever thief much esteemed by Tse Fan, who had a faible for all kinds of skill. When the army of Ch`u under Tse Fan's command was pressed hard by the outnumbering forces of Ch`i, the thief in three consecutive nights entered the camp of the enemies and stole a cap, a pillow, and a hair-pin. The soldiers of Ch`i became nervous, and said that unless they retreated the thief would steal their heads next night. Then the army of Ch`i went home.---Huai Nan Tse calls the general Tse Fa .
23. T`ien Wên of Ch`i, Prince of Mêng Ch`ang. The story of the cock-crowing will be found on p. 132.
24. the correct form found in the Shi-chi chap. 125. In Vol. I, p. 153 it was transcribed Chieh Ju from .
25. On the final downfall of this minion see Vol. I, p. 309.
26. A wife of Huang Ti. Cf. Vol. I, p. 473, Note 3.
27. Properly speaking, Wu Yen is not the name of the lady in question who was a native of a place Wu-yen in Shantung. Her name is Chung-Li Ch`un. At the age of forty years, she was still unmarried, but so impressed King Hsüan of Ch`i, 342-323 b.c., by her intelligence, that he made her his wife in spite of her ugliness. See Giles, Biogr. Dict. No. 519. The Lieh-nü-ch`uan (quoted in the Pei-wên-yün-fu) relates that she herself offered her services as a palace servant to the king, who afterwards married her.
28. The T`ai-p`ing-yü-lan chap. 488, p. 4r., quotes this passage.
29. Ch`in Hsi recommended a friend to Duke Mu of Ch`in and committed suicide when his advice was not accepted. His death impressed the duke so much, that he took the protégé of Ch`in Hsi into his service. This story is told in Vol. I, p. 502.Of Pao Shu we know that he recommended his friend Kuan Chung to Duke Huan of Ch`i.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|