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Chapter XXII. Impeaching the Worthy

(a) The Lord Grand Secretary: Broken will be the inflexible, and bent, the flexible 1 : thus Chi Yü died because of his stiff-neckedness, and Tsai Wo was murdered being yielding and weak. But if thes two men had not acquired learning, they probably would not have died their death. How so? Learning made them proud of themselves and boastful of their abilities; knowing little, grabbing much; wishing that men follow them and unable to follow others; self-admiring, when no one even glanced at them; self-appraising when no one even bargained for them. This is how they ended their lives by being murdered and finished by being embrined and enmarinaded. 2 We have not yet seen them made into "temple vessels," but we saw them utterly disgraced before the world. At that time would you also send them flitting eastward to find rest? 3

(b) The Literati: When the noble steed hitched to a salt wain struggled up the slopes of T'ai Hang with bent head4 the butcher cast glances at it, clutching his cleaver. When in dire poverty T'ai Kung was carrying his peddler's wares at Ch'ao Ko, the tousle-heads gathered in crowds to mock him. It was not that at that time they did not possess far-carrying sinews and the speed of fleeting coursers, but there were no Wên Wang or Po Lo who would recognize their worth. Tzŭ Lu and Tsai Wo during their lives did not happen to receive promotion at the hands of a Po Lo, but ran into a mad butcher. Hence the Superior Man sorrowed for them: A man like Yu will not come to a natural death. Is heaven thus afflicting me?5 K'ung Fu was involved in the troubles of Hua Tu, but he could not be said to be unloyal; Ch'iu Mu passed through the disaster of Sung Wan, but he cannot be said not to be worthy.

(c) The Lord Grand Secretary: Among the scholars of to-day there are none with the ability of T'ai Kung or the innate capacity of a noble steed, but there are indeed wasps and scorpions that swollen with poison only harm themselves. Such were Ch'êng Hsiung of Tung Hai and Hu Chien of Ho Tung. From the ranks of common soldiers these two men were promoted for their learning to post of magistrates. Yet not only did they prove to be conceited and unwilling to cooperate with anyone, but called in, they would not come; pushed out, they would not go. Capering and flippant, stubborn and impolite, insolent lackeys to the princesses, and trespassers towards the high ministers, they tried forcibly to do what they knew was impossible. Their eagerness to make a name for themselves, led them into unlawful ways and sure enough they lost their lives. We cannot perceive their achievement to any extent, but we have witnessed their execution between the two pylons. Suffering the extreme penalty they could not finish their days in peaceful old age. Effrontery they took for wisdom, blazoning others' faults for straightforwardness, impudence for bravery. 6 It is indeed proper that they should meet with calamity.

(d) The Literati: These two honorable gentlemen had in their bosoms hearts of the purest whiteness and walked in the path of loyalty and uprightness; they cultivated straightforwardness in serving their superiors and strained their forces in making manifest the public good. Upholding law and promoting order, they did not favor relatives, nor put great emphasis upon safeguarding their wives and children, nor pay attention to the promotion of their private fortunes. Yet in the end they did not succeed in escaping from jealous and slanderous persons and succumbed to the pushing of the all too numerous `crooks.' 7 This is the explanation for unexpected penalties being heaped upon them and their achievements left incomplete. For when members of the reigning clan are not upright, then laws and regulations are not enforced; when the ruler's right hand men are not upright, then treachery and evil flourish. When Chao Shê executed the law upon the lord of P'ing Yüan, and Fan Chü upon Marquis Jang, good government was preserved in the two states and at the same time both houses were kept intact. Thus, when the ruler commits a mistake, the minister should rectify it; when superiors err, inferiors should criticize them. When high ministers are upright, can magistrates be anything else? It is indeed highly remiss of you who are in actual control of administration to find fault with others instead of turning to examine your own persons. For Ch'ü Yüan's drowning in the deep can be traced to the slander of Tzŭ-shu, but that Kuan Tzŭ was able to put into effect his principles was due to the efforts of Pao-shu. At the present moment we cannot detect any efforts on the part of Pao-shu, but we envisage only the tragedy of the Mi Lo. Even though we would entertain the "finishing our days in peaceful old age," could we hope to realize it?


1. Cf. note 8, chap. XXI, supra.

2. 菹 醢 Cf. note 4, chap. XXI. The binom is usually translated "sliced to death." See Li Ling's "Letter to Su Wu," Giles, Gems (Prose), p. 85.

3. Lu suggests reading 乘, seeing in the expression a reference to "Tzŭ Lu wishing to sail over the sea" (Lun Yü, V, vi). It appears, however, only a repartee of the Lord Grand Secretary to the Literati's attack in para. d, chap. XXI.

4. Supply 之 坂 after 太 行 following the T'ai P'ing Yü Lan and the I Wên Lei Chü. The derivation of this apparent quotation has not been ascertained. It occurs frequently in later literature.

5. 天 其 祝 予 矣. The first part of the quotation is from Lun Yü already noted; the second part from Kung Yang Chuan, Duke Ai, XIVth year.

6. 狡 : 絞 for 東 effrontery as in Lun Yü, VIII, 2. Cf. 中 論 嚴 辭 (K'ung-tzŭ Chi Yü, ch. III) 孔 子 曰 小 人 毀 疵 以 為 辭 . 絞 急 以 為 智. 不 遜 以 為 勇.

7. The Chinese 枉 "crooked" bears out the translation.

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