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Chapter XXII. Collected Persuasions, The Upper Series1

T`ang had already subjugated Chieh. Fearing lest All-under-Heaven should speak of him as covetous, he transferred the rule over All-under-Heaven to Wu Kuang. Again, fearing lest Wu Kuang should accept the throne, he sent men to persuade Wu Kuang that T`ang having killed the ruler wanted to pass the bad reputation to him and so transferred the rule over All-under-Heaven to him. In consequence, Wu Kuang plunged into a river.

King Wu of Ch`in ordered Kan Mu to choose the post he wanted, Grand Chamberlain or Minister of Foreign Affairs. 2 Mêng Mao said to him: "Your Excellency had better choose the post of Grand Chamberlain. What Your Excellency excels in is the office of an envoy. Though Your Excellency holds the post of Grand Chamberlain, yet His Majesty will appoint you envoy in the hour of need. Then Your Excellency while holding the seal of the Grand Chamberlain in hand will be Minister of Foreign Affairs. In other words, Your Excellency will hold an additional post."

Tzŭ-yü once introduced Confucius to the Prime Minister of Shang. 3 Confucius went out. Tzŭ-yü went in and asked for the Premier's opinion of the visitor. In reply the Prime Minister said: "After I have seen Confucius, you look as small as lice and fleas to me. Now I am going to introduce him to His Highness." Afraid that Confucius might be held in high esteem by the ruler, Tzŭ-yü persuaded the Prime Minister that after seeing Confucius, the ruler might also consider him as small as lice and fleas. The Prime Minister, accordingly, never saw Confucius again.

King Hui of Wey called a conference of the feudal lords at Chiu-li with a view to restoring the supreme authority to the Son of Heaven. Thereupon P`êng Hsi said to the Ruler of Chêng: "Your Highness had better not listen to him. Big powers dislike the existence of the Son of Heaven. Smaller states profit by it. If Your Highness sides with the big powers and does not listen to him, then how can the Wey State together with smaller ones restore the supreme authority to the Son of Heaven?"

When the Chins were attacking Hsing, Duke Huan of Ch`i thought of rescuing it. Thereupon Pao Shu said: "Too early. Hsing is not yet going to ruin. Chin is not yet exhausted. If Chin is not exhausted, Ch`i cannot become very influential. Moreover, the merit of supporting a state in danger is not as great as the virtue of reviving a ruined one. Your Highness had better rescue it later so as to exhaust Chin! The result 4 will be advantageous in fact. If we wait till Hsing is ruined and then revive it, it will be beautiful in name." 5 Duke Huan, accordingly, stopped sending reinforcements to Hsing.

When Tzŭ-hsü was making his escape, a frontier patrol caught him. Tzŭ-hsü said: "The authorities want me because they think I have a beautiful pearl. Now I have already lost it. But I will say that you have seized and swallowed it." Thereupon the patrol released him.

Ch`ing Fêng had caused a civil war in Ch`i and was thinking of seeking refuge in Yüeh. His relatives said: "Chin is near. Why won't you go to Chin?" "Yüeh is far," replied Ch`ing Fêng, "and so is good for seeking safety." "If your rebellious nature can be changed," said the relatives, "it is all right to stay in Chin; if it cannot be changed, though you go far away to Yüeh, will you be safe there?"

When Earl Chih demanded territory from Viscount Hsüan of Wey, the latter thought of not giving. "Why is Your Highness not going to give?" asked Jên Chang. "For no reason," replied Viscount Hsüan, "he is demanding land from us. Therefore I am not going to give." "If he demands territory from us without any reason," said Jên Chang, "other neighbouring countries will be afraid of the same demand. If his greed grows insatiable, All-under-Heaven will worry about it. If Your Highness gives him land now, he will become arrogant and slight his enemies and the neighbouring countries will out of common fear consolidate their friendship. If mutually friendly troops cope with the country slighting its enemies, the life of Earl Chih will not last long. It is said in the Book of Chou, `When about to conquer anybody, be sure to assist him; when about to take, be sure to give.' Your Highness had better give and make Earl Chih arrogant. Besides, why should Your Highness hesitate to scheme for the Chih Clan with the rest of the world instead of making ourselves alone the target of the Chihs?" "Right," replied the Viscount, and, accordingly, gave out a fief of ten thousand families. Thereby Earl Chih was greatly pleased. Then he also demanded territory from Chao. The Chaos refused to give, wherefore he besieged Chin-yang. It came to pass that Han and Wey revolted outside while the Chaos responded to them from inside the city. Thus in the long run 6 the Chihs were destroyed.

Once Duke K`ang of Ch`in built a tower taking three years. In the meantime, the Chings raised an army and were about to attack Ch`i. Thereupon Jên Wang said to the Duke: "Famine calls in invaders, pestilence calls in invaders, compulsory labour service calls in invaders, civil war calls in invaders. For three years Your Highness has been building the tower. Now the Chings are raising an army and are about to attack Ch`i, thy servant is afraid they will fight Ch`i in name but raid Ch`in in fact. Better take precautions against their invasion." Accordingly, Ch`in made military preparations on its eastern border, wherefore the Chings actually halted their expedition.

Once Ch`i attacked Sung. Sung sent Ts`ang-sun Tzŭ to ask for reinforcements from Ching. The King of Ching, greatly pleased, promised him reinforcements in a very encouraging 7 manner. However, Ts`ang-sun Tzŭ looked worried during his return trip. Therefore the coachman asked: "The request for reinforcements has been just granted, but why does Your Excellency look worried?" In reply Ts`ang-sun Tzŭ said: "Sung is small while Ch`i is big. To rescue small Sung and thereby offend big Ch`i, it is what everybody worries about. Yet the King of Ching was so willing to give us help. He must thereby mean to stiffen our resistance. For if we offer stubborn resistance, Ch`i will be exhausted, which will eventually be to the advantage of Ching." So saying, Ts`ang-sun Tzŭ returned. Meanwhile, the Ch`is took five cities from Sung, but Ching's reinforcements did not come at all.

Once Marquis Wên of Wey wanted to borrow the way through Chao to attack Central Hills. Marquis Shu of Chao at first thought of not letting him have the way. Thereupon Chao K`ê said: "Your Highness is mistaken. Suppose Wey attack Central Hills and does not win, Wey will then cease hostilities. Should she cease hostilities, she will fall into contempt while Chao will thereby increase her own prestige. Even though Wey succeeds in taking Central Hills, she will not be able to maintain her rule over the new territory across Chao. This will eventually mean that Wey uses her troops but Chao gains their conquered territory. Therefore, be sure to grant their request in a very encouraging 8 manner! As soon as they come to know that Your Highness is going to profit thereby, they will stop the expedition. Therefore better let them have the way and show that we are obliged to do so."

Ch`ih-i Tzŭ-p`i was working for Viscount T`ien Ch`êng. When Viscount T`ien Ch`êng left Ch`i and was making an escape to Yen, Ch`ih-i Tzŭ-p`i carried his pass along and followed him. Upon their arrival at Hope Town Tzŭ-p`i said: "Has Your Highness ever heard the story of the snakes in a dry swamp? As the swamp was drying up and the snakes had to move away, the small snake said to the big one: `If you go in the front and I follow from behind, men will think it is nothing but the migration of snakes, and some of them might kill you. Better let our mouths hold each other. And will you carry me on your back while we are moving onward? Then men will regard me as ruler of spirits.' Accordingly, they held each other's mouths and one carried the other. When they were moving across the public avenue in this manner, everybody avoided them, saying, `It's the ruler of spirits.' Now that Your Highness is handsome while I am homely, if Your Highness appears to be my guest of honour, I would be taken for a ruler of one thousand chariots; if Your Highness appears to be my servant, I would be taken for a noble serving under a ruler of ten thousand chariots. Suppose Your Highness be my retainer." Viscount Ch`êng, accordingly, carried the pass along and followed him to an inn. The inn-keeper actually entertained them with great hospitality and presented them with wine and meat.

Once a man of Wên went to Chou, but the Chous would not admit any alien. "An alien?" asked a Chou official. "No, a native" was the reply. The official then asked him about the alley he was living in, but he did not know. Therefore he put him under arrest. The Ruler of Chou then sent men to ask him, "You are not a native of Chou, but why did you say you were not an alien?" In reply the man said: "Since thy servant was a child, he has been reciting the poem saying:

Where'er their arch the heavens expand,
The king can claim the land below.
Within the seabounds of the land,
At his summons come or go. 9

Now that Your Majesty is the Son of Heaven, thy servant is one of his subjects. Then can thy servant be both a subject and an alien to His Majesty? So, thy servant said he was a native." Thereupon the Ruler ordered him to be released.

King Hsüan of Han once asked Chiu Liu: "I, the King, want to appoint to office both Kung Chung and Kung Shu. Will it be safe?" "No, it will not be safe," replied Chiu Liu. "As Chin employed the Six Nobles, the state was eventually partitioned; as Duke Chien employed both Ti`en Ch`êng and Kan Chih, he was murdered in the long run; and as Wey employed both Hsi-shou and Chang Yi, all the territory to the west of the Yellow River was lost as a result. Now suppose Your Majesty employ both of them. Then the more powerful one will form his own faction inside 10 while the less powerful one will count on foreign influence. Among the body of officials, if there are some forming factions inside and thereby acting arrogantly towards the sovereign and some others cultivating friendships with foreign states and thereby causing territorial dismemberment, then Your Majesty's state will be jeopardized."

Once upon a time, Shao Chi-mei was drunk and asleep and lost his fur garment. The Ruler of Sung 11 asked, "Is drunkenness sufficient to lose a fur garment?" In reply he said: "Because of drunkenness Chieh lost his rule over All-under-Heaven. So does the `Announcement to K`ang' 12 read: `Do not indulge in wine.' To indulge in wine means to drink wine habitually. The Son of Heaven, if he becomes a habitual drinker, will lose his rule over All-underHeaven. An ordinary man, if he becomes a habitual drinker, will lose his life."

Kuan Chung and Hsi P`êng accompanied Duke Huan in the expedition against Ku-chu. When spring was gone and winter came again, they went astray and lost the way. Thereupon Kuan Chung said: "The wisdom of old horses is trustworthy." So they let old horses go of themselves and followed them from behind, till they found the way. As they went onward, there was no water in the mountains. Thereupon Hsi P`êng said: "Ants live on the sunny side of the mountain in winter and on the shady side in summer. Wherever there is an ant-hill one inch high, there is always water underneath it." So they dug the ground and found water. Thus, Kuan Chung despite his saintliness and Hsi P`êng despite his intelligence never hesitated to learn from old horses and ants what they did not know. Men of to-day, however low their mentality may be, never think of learning from the wisdom of saintly men. Is it not a great fault?

Once upon a time, somebody presented the elixir of life to the King of Ching. The court usher held it in his hand and entered the palace. There the guard asked him, "May I eat it?" "Of course" was the reply. The guard, accordingly, took it away from the usher and ate it. Enraged thereby, the King sentenced him to death. The guard then sent men to persuade the King, saying: "Thy servant asked the usher. The usher 13 said I might eat it. Therefore thy servant ate it. This means that thy servant is innocent and the usher is the one to blame. Further, the guest is supposed to have presented the elixir of life. Now, if Your Majesty puts thy servant to death after thy servant ate it, then the elixir must be a mortal drug. This will testify his deception of Your Majesty. Indeed, to put thy innocent servant to death and thereby prove somebody else's deception of Your Majesty is not as good as to release thy servant." Hearing this, the King refrained from killing him.

T`ien Ssŭ once deceived the Ruler of Tsou, wherefore the Ruler of Tsou was about to send men to kill him. Fearing the penalty, T`ien Ssŭ appealed to Hui Tzŭ for help. Hui Tzŭ, accordingly, interviewed the Ruler of Tsou, saying: "Now suppose someone look at Your Highness with one eye shut, what will Your Highness do to him?" "I will put him to death," replied the Ruler. "Yet the blind man shuts both his eyes. Why don't you kill him?" asked Hui Tzŭ. "It is because by nature he cannot help shutting his eyes," replied the Ruler. "Well, T`ien Ssŭ deceived the Ruler 14 of Ch`i in the east," said Hui Tzŭ, "and in the south deceived the King of Ching. Ssŭ habitually deceives people just as the blind man has to shut both his eyes. Why should Your Highness show resentment at him in particular?" Hearing this, the Ruler of Tsou refrained from killing him.

Duke Mu of Lu sent out the various princes to take up office at the court of Chin and the court of Ching. Thereupon Li Chü said: "Suppose we employ men from Yüeh to rescue our drowning sons. Then though the Yüehs are good swimmers, our sons' lives would not be saved. Suppose a fire burst out and we fetch water from the sea. Then though the water of the sea is abundant, the fire would not go into extinction. Thus, distant water cannot put out a fire at hand. Now, though Chin and Ching are strong, Ch`i is a close neighbour. Should Lu worry that Chin and Ching might not come in time to rescue Lu in case of conflict with Ch`i?"

Yen Sui was not on good terms with the Ruler of Chou, wherefore the Ruler of Chou 15 worried. So Fêng Chü 16 said: "Yen Sui is Premier of the Han State, but the Ruler holds Han K`uei in high respect. The best is to assassinate Han K`uei. Then the Ruler of Han would hold the Yen Clan responsible for the act."

Chang Ch`ien, Premier of Han, was ill and about to die. Kung-ch`êng Wu-chêng took thirty taels of gold along in his bosom and inquired after his health. In the course of one month the Ruler of Han went himself to ask Chang Ch`ien: "If the Premier passes away, who else should take his place?" In reply Chang Ch`ien said: "Wu-chêng upholds the law and reveres the superior. However, he is not as good as Prince Shih-wo in winning the hearts of the people." Chang Ch`ien died. The Ruler, accordingly, appointed Wu-chêng Prime Minister.

Yo Yang commanded the Wey forces in attacking Central Hills, when his son was in that country. The Ruler of Central Hills steamed his son and sent him the soup. Yo Yang, then seated beneath the tent, supped the soup and drank up the whole plateful. Marquis Wên said to Tu Shih-chan: "Yo Yang on account of His Highness ate the flesh of his son." In response to this Tu Shih-chan said: "Even his own son he ate. Who else then would he not eat?" When Yo Yang came back from the campaign in Central Hills, Marquis Wên rewarded him for his meritorious service but suspected his mind.

Mêng Sun went out hunting and got a fawn. He then ordered Ch`in Hsi-pa to bring it home. On the way the mother deer followed along and kept crying. Unable to bear that, Ch`in Hsi-pa gave the fawn back to its mother, when Mêng Sun arrived and asked for the fawn. In reply Hsi-pa said: "Unable to bear the mother's crying, I gave it back to her." Enraged thereby, Mêng Sun dismissed him. In the course of three months, he recalled him and appointed him tutor of his son. Out of wonder his coachman asked, "Why did Your Excellency blame him before and has now called him back to be tutor of the young master?" "If he could not bear the ruin of a fawn," replied Mêng Sun, "how would he bear the ruin of my son?"

Hence the saying: "Skilful deception is not as good as unskilful sincerity." For instance, Yo Yang despite his merit incurred suspicion while Ch`in Hsi-pa despite his demerit increased his credit.

Tsêng Ts`ung Tzŭ was good in judging swords. The Ruler of Wei had ill will towards the King of Wu. Therefore Tsêng Ts`ung Tzŭ said to him: "The King of Wu is fond of swords. Thy servant is good in judging swords. May thy servant go to judge swords for the King of Wu, and, when drawing out a sword to show him, thrust him with it and thereby avenge Your Highness?" In reply the Ruler of Wei said: "Your action 17 is right to your own advantage but not for any public cause. Now that Wu is strong and rich while Wei is weak and poor, if you go at all, you would, I am afraid, be employed by the King of Wu to do the same to me." So saying, he dismissed him.

When Chow made chop-sticks of ivory, the Viscount of Chi was frightened. He thought: "Ivory chop-sticks would not be put on earthen-wares but on cups made of jade or of rhinoceros horns. Further, jade cups and ivory chop-sticks would not go with the soup made of beans and coarse greens, but with the meat of long-haired buffaloes and unborn leopards. Again, eaters of the meat of longhaired buffaloes and unborn leopards would not wear short hemp clothes and live in a thatched house but would put on nine layers of embroidered dresses and move to live on lofty terraces and in magnificent mansions. Thus, if their demands go onward at this rate, even All-under-Heaven will not be sufficient." The saintly man by seeing the obscure knew the manifest, and by seeing the origin knew the outcome. Therefore, on seeing the ivory chop-sticks made, he was thereby frightened and knew that eventually even All-under-Heaven would not be sufficient.

Duke Tan of Chou, having vanquished Yin, was about to attack Shang-kai, when Duke Chia of Hsin said to him: "Big states are hard to attack, small ones are easy to subjugate. The best is to subjugate small states and thereby intimidate big ones." Accordingly, they fell upon the Nine Barbarians with the result that Shang-kai submitted also.

Chow indulged in over-night drinking and through the pleasure 18 forgot the date of the day. He asked his attendants about the date. None of them knew. So he sent men to ask the Viscount of Chi. Thereupon the Viscount of Chi said to his followers 19 : "Now that he who is the Lord of All-under-Heaven finds everybody in the whole country forget the date of the day, All-under-Heaven must be in danger. Since nobody in the country is aware of the date and I alone am aware of it, I must be in danger, too." So saying, he refused to tell the date by pretending to drunkenness and ignorance of it.

Once upon a time, a man of Lu, who was a good maker of sandals, and whose wife was a good weaver of gloss-silk, was about to migrate to Yüeh. Thereupon someone said, "You are bound to become poor there!" "Why?" asked the man. "Because sandals are for the feet to wear, but the Yüehs go bare-footed. Gloss-silk is for making crowns, but the Yüehs dishevel their hair. With your skill unemployed in that country, how can you help becoming poor?"

Ch`ên Hsü 20 was held in esteem by the King of Wey. Hui Tzŭ said to him: "Be sure to keep on good terms with the attendants. Indeed, the aspen, whether planted sidewise or upside down or from a branch broken off, grows just the same. However, suppose ten men plant ten aspens and only one man pulls them out. Then there will grow no aspen. Now, ten men planting trees so easy to grow cannot overcome only one person pulling them out. Why? It is because it is hard to plant them but easy to pull them out. Similarly, though Your Excellency is skilful in establishing himself with the favour of the King, if those who want to oust Your Excellency are many, Your Excellency will be in danger."

Chi Sun of Lu had recently murdered the Ruler, while Wu Ch`i was still serving him. Thereupon someone said to Wu Ch`i: "Indeed, a dead person who has just died still has living blood. But living blood will turn into dead blood, dead blood into ashes, and ashes into earth. When it is earth, nothing can be done about it. Now, Chi Sun still has living blood. Might it be possible to foreknow what he will become?" Hearing this, Wu Ch`i left for Chin.

Once, when Hsi Ssŭ-mi visited Viscount T`ien Ch`êng, Viscount T`ien Ch`êng took him to a tower to look out over the four directions. In three directions they could admire far-reaching views, but when they looked out over the south, they saw the trees of Hsi Tzŭ's residence 21 in the way. Thereat Viscount T`ien Ch`êng as well as Hsi Ssŭ-mi made no remark. Upon his return to his residence Hsi Tzŭ ordered servants to hew down the trees. No sooner had the axes made several cuts than Hsi Tzŭ stopped them. "Why does Your Excellency change his mind so suddenly?" asked the house servants. In reply Hsi Tzŭ said: "The ancients had a proverb saying, `Who knows the fish in the abyss is unlucky.' Indeed, Viscount T`ien is about to launch an extraordinary affair. If I show him that I know its minute details, I will be jeopardized. Not hewing down the trees will constitute no offence; knowing what he never utters in word will amount to a serious offence." So they stopped hewing down the trees.

Once Yang Tzŭ passed through Sung and stayed 22 in an inn. The inn had two waitresses. The ugly one of them was esteemed but the beautiful one was despised. Therefore Yang Tzŭ asked the reason. In reply the old inn-keeper said: "The beautiful one thinks so much of her own beauty, but I never notice her being so beautiful. The ugly one is so conscious of her own ugliness, but I never notice her being so ugly." Thereupon Yang Tzŭ said to his disciples: "Who practises worthiness and abandons the aptitude for self-esteem, would be praised wherever he goes."

Once a man of Wei on giving a daughter in marriage taught her, saying: "Be sure to accumulate your own savings because it is usual for a married woman to be divorced and it is unusually lucky if she can succeed in making a new home." The daughter, accordingly, accumulated her own savings in secret. In consequence, her mother-in-law, regarding her as extraordinarily self-seeking, divorced her. Upon her return her possession was twice as much as her dowry. The father not only never blamed himself for having given his daughter a wrong precept but even considered the way he had increased his wealth astute. 23 In these days, 24 office-hunters when appointed to posts would do the same as the daughter given in marriage.

Lu Tan thrice persuaded the Ruler of Central Hills, but his advice was never taken. So he spent fifty taels to gain the good-will of the attendants. Then he went to have another audience, when the Ruler, before speaking one word to him, invited him to a banquet. When Lu Tan went out, he did not return to his lodging place but left Central Hills at once. Out of wonder his coachman asked him: "The Ruler of Central Hills only began to show Your Excellency courtesies during the last interview, but why should Your Excellency leave so soon?" In reply he said: "Indeed, just as he showed courtesies to me in accordance with people's words, he would charge me with crimes in accordance with people's words, too." True, before they went out of the state border, the heir apparent slandered him, saying that he had come to spy for Chao. The Ruler of Central Hills, accordingly, searched for him and found him guilty.

Earl T`ien Ting loved warriors and scholars and thereby kept his Ruler in safety; the Duke of White loved warriors and scholars and thereby threw Ching into confusion. Their loving warriors and scholars was the same, but the motives behind the action were different. Again, Kung-sun Chi 25 cut off his feet and thereby recommended Pai-li Hsi; Shu Tiao castrated himself and thereby ingratiated himself with Duke Huan. Their punishing themselves was the same, but the motives behind their self-punishment were different. Therefore, Hui 26 Tzŭ said: "An insane person is running eastward and a pursuer is running eastward, too. Their running eastward is the same, but the motives behind their running eastward are different." Hence the saying: "Men doing the same thing ought to be differentiated in motive."


1. 說林上.

2. With Yü Yüeh 事 below 行 is superfluous.

3. Alias of Sung.

4. With Wang Hsien-shen 齊 above 實利 should be 其.

5. With Wang Wei 實 between 其名 and 美 is superfluous.

6. With Wang Hsien-shen 自 should be 遂.

7. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 歡 should be 勸.

8. With Ku 歡 should be 勸.

9. Vide Book of Poetry, Pt. II, Bk. VI, "The Decade of Pei Shan."

10. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 内 should be supplied above 樹其黨.

11. The Imperial Library has 梁 in place of 宋.

12. The Book of History has 酒誥 "Commandment against Wine" in place of 康誥. The "Announcement to K`ang" was composed of the address of King Wu to one of his younger brothers, Fêng, also called K`angshu, on appointing him to the Marquisate of Wei.

13. With Wang Hsien-shen 謁者 should be repeated.

14. 齊侯 Ch`i was originally a Marquisate. During the Spring and Autumn Period, however, almost every feudal lord called himself Duke. To avoid such confusion I prefer to render 侯 as "Ruler".

15. With Lu Wên-shao below 周君 there should be supplied another 周君.

16. The Book of Chou has 且 in place of 沮.

17. With Kao Hêng 子為之 should be 子之為.

18. With Ku Kuang-ts`ê 懼 should be 懽.

19. The Imperial Library has 從 in place of 徙.

20. With Ku 陳 and 田 were synonyms and 軫 should be 需.

21. With Wang Hsien-ch`ien 家之 should be 之家.

22. With Wang Hsien-shen Chuang Tzŭ put 宿 in place of 東 and repeat 逆旅

23. With Ku Kuang-t`sê 知 reads 智.

24. Hirazawa's edition has 今 in place of 令. Wang Hsien-shen's effort to interpret the connotation of 令 seems futile.

25. With Lu Wên-shao 友 should be 支, which was a synonym of 枝.

26. With Lu 慧 and 惠 were synonyms.

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