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Chapter XVIII. Facing the South1

The fault of the lord of men is: After having entrusted 2 certain ministers with the state affairs, he guards against them with ministers not entrusted. His reason for so doing is that the non-entrusted and the entrusted will become enemies. Contrary to his expectation, the sovereign will fall under the spell of the non-entrusted. In consequence, the ministers with whom he is now guarding against the entrusted, are mostly those whom he used to guard against. If the lord of men cannot make the law clear and thereby restrain the power of chief vassals, there will be no other way to win confidence from the petty officials. 3

If the lord of men casts the law aside and guards against ministers with ministers, then those who love one another will associate for wicked purposes and speak well of one another while those who hate one another will form cliques and speak ill of one another. When blame and praise are crossing each other, the sovereign will fall into bewilderment and confusion.

Those who minister to a ruler, unless they have good reputations and make frequent requests, cannot advance their careers; unless they act contrary to the law and take all powers to themselves, they cannot uplift their prestige; and, unless they pretend to loyalty and faithfulness, they cannot rid themselves of prohibitions. These three ways are means of deluding the sovereign and destroying the law.

The lord of men, when employing ministers, should not allow them, however wise and able they may be, to act contrary to the law and take all powers to themselves; should not allow them, however worthy and virtuous they may be, to claim any priority among the men of merit and take precedence of the hard-working people; and should not discard the law and refrain from restricting them, however loyal and faithful they may be. Such a ruler is called an illustrator of the law.

The lord of men is sometimes tempted to tasks and sometimes deluded by words; wherefore both tasks and words need due consideration.

Ministers who imprudently propose tasks, usually underestimate the expenditure and thereby deceive the sovereign with the proposition. Deluded thereby, the sovereign does not carefully consider the tasks but thinks much of the ministers. If so, they will in turn restrain the sovereign with the enterprises. Such is called "temptation to tasks". 4 The ruler once tempted to tasks will be harassed by worries.

If the proposition purports a small task but the actual expenses are enormous, then, though meritorious services are performed, the proposition is not one of faith. If the ministers whose propositions are of no faith are found guilty, and if the tasks, though they provide results, get no reward, 5 nobody would dare to twist his words to blind the sovereign. The way to be a sovereign is to make the ministers' previous words never deviate from their subsequent sayings and the subsequent never deviate from the previous and to find them guilty in case of any deviation, although the tasks may have provided results. This is called "skilfully employing subordinates". 6

The minister, when he devises a project for his master and fears disapproval, will make out a case and declare such a warning as, "Whoever criticizes the project of this task is jealous of the projector." Suppose the lord of men, keeping it in secret, never consults any other minister. The rest of the ministers, frightened by the premonition, dare not criticize the project. If these two sets of circumstances 7 prevail, loyal ministers will not be accepted but well-reputed ministers will be employed exclusively. Such is called "delusion by words". The ruler once deluded by words will be restrained by ministers.

The right way to be the sovereign is to make all ministers understand the reasons why they are blamed for giving opinions and why they are blamed for not giving opinions. If they utter words that have neither beginning nor ending or an argument that has no proof, then they are blamed for giving opinions. If they attempt to evade responsibilities by not giving any opinion so as to maintain their high posts, then they are blamed for not giving opinions.

The lord of men in keeping ministers in service ought to know the motive and purpose 8 of every speaker in order to hold his words responsible for an equivalent fact, and ask the non-speakers to decide between the pros and cons of the proposition so as to hold them accountable for the result of the work. If so, nobody will dare to give any arbitrary opinions nor to keep silent. Because both speaking and silence equally involve accountabilities.

When the lord of men wants to accomplish a task, if he does not understand its beginning and ending so as to clarify the object of his desire, and then if he attempts to accomplish it, his work will gain no advantage but will incur disadvantage instead. If he understands this principle, he will trust to reason and get rid of avarice. The accomplishment of every task has its proper course. If its income is estimated to be big and its outgo is estimated to be small, the project is practicable.

Such is not the case with the deluded sovereign. For he estimates the income but never estimates the outgo. As a result, even though the outgo is twice as much as the income, he never notices the harm. Thus in name he gains but in fact he loses. If such is the case, the achievement will be little while the harm is great.

In general, an achievement implies a big income and a small outgo. Only in such a case can it be called an achievement. Now that much waste incurs no crime and little gain is a merit, ministers naturally waste enormous expenses and perform small merits. As small merits are performed, so the sovereign suffers losses.

Those who do not know the right way to political order, always say, "Never change ancient traditions, never remove existing institutions." Change or no change, the sage does not mind. For he aims only at the rectification of government. Whether or not ancient traditions should be changed, whether or not existing institutions should be removed, all depends upon the question whether or not such traditions and such institutions are still useful for present-day political purposes.

If Yi Yin had made no reform on behalf of Yin and T`aikung Wang 9 had made no reform on behalf of Chou, neither T`ang nor Wu could become King. If Kuan Chung had made no reform on behalf of Ch`i and Kuo Yen 10 had made no reform on behalf of Chin, neither Duke Huan nor Duke Wên could have become hegemonic.

Generally speaking, men hesitate to change ancient traditions because they are diffident about affecting the peace of the people. Indeed, not to change ancient traditions is to inherit the traces of disorder; to accord with the mind of the people is to tolerate villainous deeds. If the people are stupid and ignorant of disorder and the superior is weak-spirited and unable to reform traditions and institutions, it is a failure in the process of government.

The lord of men must be intelligent enough to know the true path to order and severe enough to carry out his orders without reserve. Therefore, though he has to act contrary to the mind of the people, he should by all means 11 establish an orderly government.

The basis of this argument is found in the "External and Internal Affairs" by Lord Shang, who had iron spears and heavy shields around him whenever going out to provide against accidents. Likewise, when Kuo Yen began to assume the reins of government, Duke Wên had an official bodyguard. When Kuan Chung began to assume the reins of government, Duke Huan had an armoured carriage. Thus they all took precautions against mobs.

For the same reason, in dealing 12 with stupid and idle people, if one worries himself about small expenses, then he is forgetting big profits. For instance, Yin Hu, bullied 13 and slandered, was very afraid 14 of even small changes and lost his permanent advantage in consequence. Likewise, the salesman of Tsou was not a carrier, but he was accustomed to chaotic conditions and chary 15 of living in an orderly world. Therefore, the man of Chêng could not go home. . . . 16


1. 南面. To face the south means to rule from the throne. When seated on the throne according to ancient Chinese court etiquette, the sovereign always faces the south (vide supra, p. 40).

2. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 在 below 任 is superfluous.

3. With Ku the Taoist Thesaurus edition has 小臣 in place of 小人.

4. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 於事 should be supplied below 誘.

5. With Ku 事有功者必賞 should be 事雖有功不賞.

6. 任下.

7. 二勢 refer to the facts that the sovereign never consults any other minister about the project and that nobody dares to criticize it.

8. With Wang Hsien-shen 末 should be supplied below 端.

9. Lü Shang was his real name. He was called T`ai-kung Wang, which means "grandfather's hope", because he was found out of obscurity by the Earl of the West to fulfil the latter's grandfather's hope and prophecy. Henceforth T`ai-kung Wang became the epithet of Lü Shang.

10. Mo Tzŭ's work "On Dyeing" has 高 in place of 郭.

11. With Wang Hsien-shen 必 should be supplied above 立.

12. With Kao Hêng 愚 and 遇 in antiquity were interchangeable in meaning.

13. With Kao 阿 reads 訶.

14. With Kao #### should be 震 which means 懼.

15. With Kao 容 above 於治 should be 吝.

16. The text of the last paragraph is so corrupt and hardly intelligible that Lu Wên-shao gave up hope for elucidation. So did Hirazawa and the Waseda University Press stopped short of their desire. According to Lu there seem a number of hiatuses and errors between words and between sentences. According to Wang Hsien-shen the last annotation of Canon V in Chap. XXXIII contains hiatus from the end of this chapter.

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