Thy servant has heard: "Who knows not but speaks, is not wise. Who knows but speaks not, is not loyal. Any minister, if not loyal, must be condemned to death. If what he speaks be not true, he must be condemned to death, too." However, thy servant begs to speak all he has heard and entreats Your Majesty to convict him of whatever crime.
Thy servant has heard, All-under-Heaven 2 are forming the Perpendicular Union 3 by uniting with Chao 4 in the centre, Yen in the north, and Wey in the south, confederating with Ching, 5 securing the good-will of Ch`i, and also conjoining Han, with a view to facing the west 6 and thereby forcibly causing Ch`in difficulties. At such a measure thy servant is laughing within himself. While there are in the world three causes of ruin, the allies exemplify all of them. If they are said to be exemplifying all the causes of ruin, it is because of their conspiracy against Ch`in! About the causes of ruin, thy servant has heard the saying, "A misgoverned country attacking a well-governed country will go to ruin; a wicked country attacking an upright country will go to ruin; and a country defying the course of nature, when it attacks a country following the course of nature, will go to ruin."
At present, the treasuries and armouries of the allies are not full; their granaries 7 and storehouses are empty. With all their gentry and commoners enlisted, there can be massed troops counting by hundreds of thousands. 8 Among them, those who would bow their heads, 9 wear feather head-dresses, assume the office of commanders, with a decisive forethought to die fighting, number more than 10 one thousand. While they all avow their determination to die, in case of emergency, even pulled by naked blades in the front and pushed by axes and anvils from behind, they would run backward and never fight to the death. Not that the gentry and commoners cannot fight to the death, but that their superiors are not capable of making them do so. For rewards are not bestowed as promised; nor are punishments inflicted as announced. Since reward and punishment are of no faith, their gentry and commoners would never fight to the death.
Now Ch`in issues verbal commands and written orders and carries out rewards and punishments accordingly, both men of merit and of no merit are clearly distinguished 11 from each other. Therefore, though the people have never seen any bandits since they left their parents' bosoms and lapels, once the news of hostilities reaches their ears, everywhere are found men tapping their feet and baring their arms to rush against sharp blades and step upon the charcoal of burning furnaces with a decisive forethought to die fighting. Verily in time of crisis readiness to die and resolution to live are not the same. Yet the people of Ch`in alone dare all hazards in the cause of their country, for they respect courageous 12 death. Indeed, one man resolved to die a courageous death can overcome ten enemies afraid of death, ten brave men can overcome one hundred coward enemies, one hundred brave men can overcome one thousand coward enemies, one thousand brave men can overcome ten thousand coward enemies, and ten thousand brave men can subdue All-underHeaven.
In these days, Ch`in has a territory, which, if the wider places are cut off to fill up the narrower places, extends over several thousand square li, plus a famous army counting by tens of thousands. In regard to the rewards and punishments carried out by her commands and orders as well as the advantages and disadvantages presented by her topographical features, no other country in All-under-Heaven can be compared to her. On coping with the world in the light of such gains, she can accomplish more than the conquest of All-under-Heaven and can easily hold them at her feet. Thus, Ch`in in warfare has never failed to win, in attack has never failed to take, and whatever has stood in her way she has never failed to smash, having opened up a vast land stretching several thousand li. This has been her great achievement.
However, of late, so dull are her weapons and armour growing, so ill are her gentry and commoners becoming, so scanty are her savings and hoardings become, so fallow are her fields and arable lands resting, so empty are her granaries and storehouses, that her neighbouring feudal lords do not obey her and the title of Hegemonic Ruler 13 is not as yet secured. For such there is no other reason than this: Her State counsellors, all in all, do not exert their spirit of loyalty.
Thy servant dares to speak:—
In times gone by, Ch`i in the south routed Ching, in the east routed Sung, in the west subdued Ch`in, in the north routed Yen, and in the centre put Han and Wey to use. Thus, with vast territory and strong soldiers she won in warfare and took in attack, thus becoming able to enforce her edicts and decrees throughout All-under-Heaven. Of Ch`i, the limpid Chi Stream and the muddy Yellow River sufficed to make boundaries; the long walls and the large dikes 14 sufficed to make frontiers. Therefore, in five successive wars was Ch`i victorious. Later, because of only one war 15 she failed to win, Ch`i was reduced to impotency. From this viewpoint it is clear that warfare is always a life-or-death question to the ruler of ten thousand chariots. 16
Besides, thy servant 17 has heard the saying: "On removing traces, leave no root, and be no neighbour to any catastrophe. There shall then survive no catastrophe." Well, Ch`in in the war 18 with the Chings routed them by long odds and made such a surprise attack upon the city of Ying and the districts of Tung-ting, Wu-tu, 19 and Chiang-nan, that the ruler and ministers of Ching had a narrow escape and sought refuge eastward under the protection of Ch`ên. At that moment, if with her forces Ch`in closely pursued the Chings, the Ching State could be taken. After the state was taken, the people would become covetable and the territory fruitful to Ch`in, so that in the east Ch`in could thereby weaken Ch`i and Yen and in the centre devastate the Three Chins. 20 If so, at one stroke she could secure the title of Hegemonic Ruler and lay all the neighbouring feudal lords under tribute. Instead, her State counsellors led the troops in retreat and, what was worse, made peace with the Chings, allowed them to recover the ruined country, gather the scattered masses, reinstate the Spirits of Land and Grain on the Altar, 21 and rebuild their ancestral shrines, and let them lead All-underHeaven to face the west and cause Ch`in difficulties. This, no doubt, was the first time the way to Hegemony was lost.
Another time, 22 when All-under-Heaven formed a wicked alliance and entrenched their forces at the foot of Mount Hua, 23 His Majesty 24 by virtue of his own edicts ordered the army to rout them. The soldiers marched as far as the outer walls of Liang. The city of Liang, after being besieged for several tens of days, could be captured. Were Liang captured, the Wey State might fall. Should Wey be taken, the friendly contact between Chao and Ching would come to an end. If the friendly contact between Chao and Ching ceased, Chao would fall into peril. Should Chao fall into peril, Ching would become helpless. 25 So that in the east Ch`in could weaken Ch`i and Yen and in the centre hold down the Three Chins, at one stroke she could secure the title of Hegemonic Ruler and lay all her neighbouring feudal lords under tribute. Instead, her State counsellors led the troops in retreat, and, what was worse, made peace with the Weys, allowed them to recover the ruined country, gather the scattered masses, reinstate the Spirits of Land and Grain on the Altar, and rebuild their ancestral shrines, and let them lead All-underHeaven to face the west and cause Ch`in difficulties. 26 This, no doubt, was the second time the way to Hegemony was lost.
In the days of old, Marquis Hsiang, 27 while governing Ch`in, used the soldiers of one country to perform meritorious services for two. 28 As a result, the soldiers of Ch`in were life-long exposed afield; gentry and commoners were tired and ill at home; while His Majesty never secured the title of Hegemonic Ruler. This, no doubt, was the third time the way to Hegemony was lost.
The Chao Clan, indeed, holds the central state inhabited by heterogeneous populations. Their people are frivolous and hard to rule, their rewards and punishments are of no faith, their topographical features are not advantageous, and their superiors 29 are unable to exert the people's best. Assuredly these are symptoms of a doomed state. Yet, not concerned about the welfare of the masses, they dared to mobilize their gentry and commoners, entrenched their forces in the suburbs of Ch`ang-p`ing, and thereby contested with Ch`in the districts of Shang-tang in Han. 30 Thereupon His Majesty by virtue of his own edicts ordered the army to rout them and captured Wu-an. At that moment, among the Chaos, high and low were not mutually attached; the noble and the humble had no faith in each other. Naturally Han-tan could not hold out long. Should Ch`in take Han-tan, occupy Shan-tung and Ho-chien, and lead her troops on the march westward to fall upon Hsiu-wu, cross the Yangch`ang31 Ascent and subject 32 Tai 33 and Shang-tang, then without a single cuirass used and without any gentry or commoners afflicted the thirty-six 34 counties of Tai plus the seventeen 35 counties of Shang-tang would all become Ch`in's possessions. After Tai and Shang-tang had fallen into the hands of Ch`in without fighting, Tung-yang and Ho-wai would also without fighting fall into the hands of Ch`i while the territory to the north of Central Hills and the River Hu-to into the hands of Yen. In consequence Chao would give way. Without Chao, Han would fall. Without Han, neither Ching nor Wey could stand by itself. If Ching and Wey could not stand alone, then at one effort Ch`in could break Han, encroach upon Wey, and capture Ching whereby to weaken Ch`i and Yen in the east, and break up the White Horse Ford whereby to flood the Wey Clan. As a result, the Three Chins would fall; the Unionists would fail; and His Majesty might with clothes dropped and hands folded 36 wait for All-under-Heaven to give way and easily secure the title of Hegemonic Ruler. Instead, the state counsellors led the troops in retreat, and, what was worse, made peace with the Chaos. 37 Thus, notwithstanding the intelligence of His Majesty and the strength of the Ch`in soldiers, the plan for Hegemony was discarded; no inch of territory but insults by a doomed state was gained; which was altogether due to the incompetence of the state counsellors.
Indeed, Chao doomed to ruin did not go to ruin; Ch`in deserving Hegemony did not attain Hegemony. This was the first reason why All-under-Heaven came to penetrate the ability of Ch`in's state counsellors. Again, when Ch`in marched out all her officers and soldiers to launch a fresh attack upon Han-tan, her men failed to take that city, threw away their armour and 38 crossbows, withdrew, and shivered. This was the second reason why All-under-Heaven came to penetrate the strength of Ch`in. Meanwhile, they drew out in retreat and held their breath in the suburbs of Li-hsia, whereupon His Majesty arrived with newly gathered forces. They then started new engagements but could not win. As their supplies stopped coming along, 39 they had to leave the front line. 40 This was the third reason why 41All-underHeaven came to penetrate the strength of Ch`in. Thus, in the past, they penetrated the ability of Ch`in's State counsellors at home and wore out her military strength abroad. From this viewpoint thy servant believes that the Union of All-underHeaven has practically had no obstacle. Now that, inside Ch`in, armour and weapons are growing dull, gentry and commoners are falling ill, savings and hoardings are becoming scanty, and fields and arable lands are resting fallow, granaries and storehouses are standing empty; outside Ch`in, All-under-Heaven are very firmly allied against her, would to Your Majesty that there be concerns of mind about such a crisis!
Besides, thy servant has heard the saying: "Be alarmed and trembling and act more carefully day after day. If thou act carefully in due manner, thou mayest hold All-underHeaven under thy sway." How to prove this? Well, in days of yore, Chow, being the Son of Heaven, 42 commanded hundreds of thousands of troops of All-under-Heaven, with the left flank of his army draining the Rivulet Ch`i and the right flank draining the Rivulet Huan till the water of the Ch`i was used up and the water of the Huan ran no longer. Thereby he intended to cause King Wu of Chou difficulties. Commanding only three thousand troops all clad in white 43 armour, King Wu in one day's battle broke up the state of Chow, took him prisoner, occupied his territory, and subdued his subjects; whereas none in the world ever grieved over the event. Likewise, Earl Chih 44 once led the forces of three countries 45 to attack Viscount 46 Hsiang of Chao at Chin-yang. By cutting down the Chin Stream and thereby inundating the city for three months, 47 he brought the city to the verge of downfall. Thereupon Viscount Hsiang bored a tortoise-shell, counted 48 bamboo slips, divined by casting lots with them, and found omens on the shell foretelling the gains and losses, whereby he chose the country he should surrender to. Meanwhile, he sent out his envoy named Chang Mêng-t`an, 49 who wormed through the water and stole out of the city. He turned down the covenant Earl Chih had made with the other two countries and won the forces of the latter to his views. With their aid he fell upon Earl Chih, took him prisoner, and restored to Viscount Hsiang the original territory. 50
In these days, Ch`in has a territory, which, if the wider places are cut off to fill up the narrower places, extends over several thousand square li, plus a famous army counting by hundreds of thousands. In regard to the rewards and punishments carried out by her commands and orders as well as the advantages and disadvantages presented by her topographical features, no other country in All-under-Heaven can be compared to her. On coping with the world in the light of such gains, she can conquer and hold All-underHeaven at her feet. Therefore thy servant has in the face of the death-penalty prayed to have an audience of Your Majesty and speak of the right way whereby to break up the Perpendicular Union of All-under-Heaven, to take Chao and ruin Han, to subject Ching and Wey, to befriend Ch`i and Yen, in order thereby to secure the title of Hegemonic Ruler and lay all the neighbouring feudal lords under tribute. May 51 Your Majesty therefore lend ear to this memorial! Should at one effort the Perpendicular Union not be broken, Chao not taken, Han not ruined, Ching and Wey not subjected, Ch`i and Yen not befriended, the title of Hegemonic Ruler not secured, and all the neighbouring feudal lords not laid under tribute, would Your Majesty behead thy servant as a warning to the whole country on a charge of disloyal counsel to the sovereign? 52
1. 初見秦. This was the memorial Han Fei Tzŭpresented to the King of Ch`in at his first interview with the ruler in 233 b.c. This King reigned from 246 to 210 b.c., and upon his complete success in world-conquest in 221 b.c. designated himself as Shih Huang Ti or the Initiating Emperor. A number of commentators misled by the Schemes of the Warring States have mistaken this work for the first memorial presented to King Hui of Ch`in by Chang Yi, who entered the Ch`in State in 333 b.c. and was appointed Prime Minister in 328 b.c. In so doing, however, they have entirely ignored the counter-evidence that many of the facts adduced in the memorial happened after Chang Yi's death in 309 b.c.
2. 天下 to the Chinese since classic antiquity has meant all that they can survey under Heaven. It is therefore used sometimes as a collective noun and sometimes as a noun common but plural. Throughout my translation its English rendering is usually "All-under-Heaven" and casually "the world". By 天下 in this chapter and the following one Han Fei Tzŭfrequently meant the allies against Ch`in.
3. 合從. The Perpendicular Union, of which Han Fei Tzŭwas an eyewitness, was the confederacy of the states to the east and south of Ch`in. It was originally advocated and presided over by Su Ch`in in 333 b.c.
4. Here is the first instance of my adding words to the ideas of the original in order to increase its intelligibility. To be sure, among the allies the Chao State was located in the centre.
5. Han Fei Tzŭused Ching instead of Ch`u on purpose to avoid calling the father of the king by name which was Tzŭ-ch`u. Ching became the epithet of the Ch`u State because it was the style of the capital of Ch`u as well as the name of a mountain close by the city.
6. Roughly speaking, Ch`in was situated to the west of the allies in Allunder-Heaven.
7. Ch`ün (囷) is a round barn of crops; ts`ang (倉), a square one.
8. With Wang Hsien-shen 數十百萬 should be 數千百萬.
9. To bow the head in this case means to express one's strong will.
10. With Kao Hêng 至 below 不 should be 止.
11. With Kao 事 below 相 means 視.
12. With Kao Yu 奮 above 死 means 勇.
13. 霸王 was rendered into English as "leader of the feudal princes" by Giles, as "Lord Protector" by H. H. Dubs, and as "Tyrant" in the Greek sense by Y. P. Mei. During the Period of Spring and Autumn (722404b.c.) it was used as the style of a ruler first successful in foreign conquests and later capable of respecting the authorities of the Son of Heaven and protecting the rights of weaker and smaller states. The English renderings by Giles and Dubs, therefore, seem to suit the connotation of the term of this period better than Mei's. During the Era of the Warring States (403222b.c.), however, any feudal lord who could emerge to be the strongest among all paid no respect to the central authorities and gave no protection to any weaker and smaller State. What he aimed at was the complete annexation of All-under-Heaven under his tyrannical and imperial rule. Therefore to the connotation of the term during this period "Tyrant" in the Greek sense is more suitable than the other two renderings. I prefer to render it as "Hegemonic Ruler", which seems able to imply either "Lord Protector" or "Tyrant" or both, and so throughout the whole translation. The French rendering by Ed. Chavannes is "roi hégémon", but "roi" is not as comprehensive as "ruler"
14. Both the walls and the dikes were to the south of the city of modern P`ing-yin.
15. Waged in 284 b.c., the 31st year of King Nan of Chou, when General Yo Yi of Yen crushed the entire forces of Ch`i
16. In ancient China the chariot was the basic unit for estimating the military strength as well as the political rank of a feudal lord. One chariot carried thirteen heavily-armed soldiers and was followed by seventy-two infantrymen. Originally only the Son of Heaven was entitled to ten thousand chariots and a feudal lord to one thousand chariots; whereas during the Era of the Warring States every powerful feudal lord arrogated to himself ten thousand chariots. Therefore, the ruler of ten thousand chariots came to mean the ruler of one of the first-class powers. Moreover, during the Chou Dynasty emoluments were measured by chariots, one chariot being supported by a locality of six square li.
17. With Wang Hsien-shen 臣 should be supplied below 且.
18. Waged in 278 b.c., the 37th year of King Nan of Chou, when General Pai Ch`i of Ch`in crushed the entire forces of Ch`u.
19. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 湖 below 五 should be 渚.
20. Chao, Han, and Wey, which partitioned the Chin State in 403 b.c., the beginning year of the Era of the Warring States, were sometime called "Three Chins".
21. In the feudal days the Altar of the Spirits of Land and Grain symbolized the centre of the people's common interests, not only religious but political and social as well.
22. 273 b.c., the 42nd year of King Nan, the 34th year of King Chao of Ch`in.
23. Situated on the borderland between Ch`in and Wey.
24. King Chao (307-250 b.c.) of Ch`in.
25. With Wang Hsien-shen 狐 should be 孤 and 疑 below it is superfluous.
26. With Wang 率天下西面以輿秦爲難 should be supplied below 令.
27. Wey Jan was made Marquis Hsiang in 291 b.c. by King Chao of Ch`in.
28. The Ch`in State and his private fief.
29. Yü Yüeh proposed 上 for 下.
30. In 260 b.c.
31. Ku Kuang-ts`ê proposed 羊腸 for 華.
32. The Schemes of the Warring States has 降 in place of 絳.
33. With Ku 代 should be supplied above 上黨.
34. Lu Wên-shao proposed 三十六 for 四十六.
35. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 七十 should be 十七.
36. To wait with clothes dropped and hands folded means to wait with ease and hope.
37. In 259 b.c.
38. With Wang Hsien-shen 兵 is a mistake for 與.
39. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 反 should be 及.
40. In 257 b.c.
41. With Wang Hsien-shen 以 should be supplied below 固.
42. 天子 means the emperor as he governs the people in accordance with the will and the way of Heaven.
43. Clothing in pure white symbolized mourning inasmuch as the event happened during the mourning period for King Wu's father.
44. One of the Six Nobles who held fiefs in the then vast but weak Chin State. Other chapters of Han Fei Tzŭfrequently have 智 in place of 知.
45. The feud of Earl Chi plus those of Han and Wey.
46. I read 子 for 主 and so throughout the whole discussion.
47. With Lu Wên-shao and Wang Hsien-shen 月 should be 年, which Kao Hêng considered absurd.
48. With Lu Wên-shao and Wang Hsien-shen 數 should be supplied above 筮 as found in Chap. XIX.
49. The Historical Records has 張孟同 in place of 張孟談.
50. In 453 b.c. A rather detailed narration of the whole event is found in Chap. X.
51. With Lu Wên-shao 誠 should be 試 .
52. With Wang Hsien-shen 以 above 為 is superfluous and 王 below 為 should be 主.
|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|