[Twenty-fifth year of Duke Hsiang: — In the fifth moon, in summer, Ts’ui of the Ch’i state, slew his prince. — Annals.]

Duke Chuang committed adultery with Ts’ui-tzu’s wife, and Ts’ui-tzu slew him. Thereupon Yen-tzu planted himself at the door of the latter’s house.

“Are you going to die with your prince,” cried his attendants. “Was he my prince only?” asked Yen-tzu, “that I alone should die,” “Will you flee the country?” said the attendants. “Was his death my crime, that I should flee? asked Yen-tzu. “Will you then go home?” enquired the attendants. “Where,” said Yen-tzu, “is there a home for him whose master is dead? It is not enough for a prince to be merely above the people; the commonwealth is in his hands. It is not enough for a minister merely to draw his pay; the commonwealth is his trust. Therefore, when the prince dies for the commonwealth, his minister dies with him; when the prince flees, his minister flees also. But if a prince dies or flees in consequence of matters which concern only himself, who, save his own private associates, can be expected to share his fate? Besides, if some one else, under obligations similar to my own, slays the prince, why should I die, why flee, why go home?”

By-and-by, the door was opened and Yen-tzu went in; and, pillowing the corpse upon his lap gave vent to tears. He then arose, and striking the ground three times with his heel, went out. People advised Ts’ui-tzu to put him to death; but Ts’ui-tzu replied, “He is a popular man, and to leave him in peace will be to win over the people.”

Ts’ui now placed another duke upon the throne, and became his chief minister, Ch’ing Feng being appointed minister of the Left. And when the people were taking the oaths of allegiance in the State temple, beginning, “May those who are not true to Ts’ui and Ch’ing ,” Yen-tzu, looking up to heaven, sighed and said, ”May I, in whatsoever I do not submit to those who are loyal to the prince and true to the commonwealth, be answerable to God!” He then smeared his lips with the blood.

When the lips perish, the teeth become cold

Chun Wang Chi Han, 唇亡齿寒.

The state of Yu was on the south of the state of Jin, and the state of Guo again on the south of Yu. Xun Xi, the minister of Jin, requested leave from the marquis to take his team of Qu horses and his bi of Chuiji jade, and with them borrow a way from Yu to march through it and attack Guo. “They are the things I hold most precious,” said the marquis. Xi replied, “But if you get a way through Yu, it is but like placing them in a treasury outside the State for a time.” “There is Gong Zhiqi in Yu,” objected the duke. “Gong Zhiqi,” returned the other, “is a weak man, and incapable of remonstrating vigorously. And, moreover, from his youth up he has always been with the duke of Yu, who is so familiar with him, that though he should remonstrate, the duke will not listen to him.” The marquis accordingly sent Xun Xi to borrow a way through Yu, with this message:—”Formerly, the state of Ji, against right and reason, entered your State from Dianling, and attacked the three gates of Ming. It suffered for its doing;—all through your Grace. Now Guo, against right and reason, has been keeping guards about the travellers’ lodges, to make incursions from them into my southern borders, and I venture to beg a right of way from you to ask an account of its offence.” The duke of Yu granted the request, and even asked to take the lead in invading Guo. Gong Zhiqi remonstrated with him, but in vain; and he raised his army for the enterprize.

‘In summer, Li Ke and Xun Xi brought on the army of Jin, made a junction with that of Yu, and invaded Guo, when they extinguished Xiayang.

Three years later, the marquis of Jin again borrowed a way through Yu to attack Guo. Gong Zhiqi remonstrated with the duke of Yu, saying, “Guo is the external defence of Yu. If Guo perish, Yu is sure to follow it. A way should not be opened to the greed of Jin; robbers are not to be played with. To do it once was more than enough; and will you do it a second time? The common sayings, ‘The carriage and its wheel-aids depend on one another,’ ‘When the lips perish, the teeth become cold,’ ‘illustrate the relation between Guo and Yu.” The duke said, “The princes of Jin and Yu are descended from the same ancestor. How should Jin injure us?” The minister replied, ‘Taibo and Yuzhong were sons of king Tai; but because Taibo would not follow him against Shang, he did not inherit his State. Guo Zhong and Guo Shu were sons of king Ji, and ministers of king Wen. Their merits in the service of the royal House are preserved in the repository of covenants. If Guo be extinguished by Jin, what love is it likely to show to Yu? And can Yu claim a nearer kindred to Jin than the descendants of Huan and Zhuang, that Jin should show love to it? What crime had the families descended from Huan and Zhuang been guilty of? and yet Jin destroyed them entirely, feeling that they might press on it. Its near relatives, whom it might have been expected to favour, it yet put to death, because their greatness pressed upon it;—what may not Jin do to you, when there is your State to gain?” The duke said, “My sacrificial offerings have been abundant and pure; the Spirits will not forsake, but will sustain me.” His minister replied, “I have heard that the Spirits do not accept the persons of men, but that it is virtue to which they cleave. Hence in the Books of Zhou we read, ‘Great Heaven has no affections; —it helps only the virtuous;’ and, ‘It is not the millet which has the piercing fragrance; it is bright virtue; and again, ‘People do not slight offerings, but it is virtue which is the thing accepted.’ Thus if a ruler have not virtue, the people will not be attached to him, and the Spirits will not accept his offerings. What the Spirits will adhere to is a man’s virtue. If Jin take Yu, and then cultivate bright virtue, and therewith present fragrant offerings, will the Spirits vomit them out?” The duke did not listen to him, but granted the request of the messenger of Jin.

‘Gong Zhiqi went away from Yu, with all the circle of his family, saying, ‘Yu will not see the winter sacrifice. Its doom is in this expedition. Jin will not make a second attempt.’

In the 8th month, on Jiawu, the marquis of Jin laid siege to Shangyang, the chief city of Guo, and asked the diviner Yan whether he should succeed in the enterprise. Yan replied that he should, and he then asked when. Yan said, “The children have a song which says,

‘Towards day break of Bing, Wei of the Dragon lies hid in the conjunction of the sun and moon. With combined energy and grand display, Are advanced the flags to capture Guo. Grandly appears the Chun star, And the Tian-ce is dim. When Huo culminates, the enterprise will be completed, And the duke of Guo will flee.’ ‘According to this, you will succeed at the meeting of the 9th and 10th months. In the morning of Bingzi, the sun will be in Wei, and the moon in Ce; the Chunhuo will be exactly in the south:—this is sure to be the time.”

‘In winter, in the 12th month, on Bingzi, the 1st day of the moon, Jin extinguished Guo, and Chou, the duke, fled to the capital. The army, on its return, took up its quarters in Yu, surprised the city, and extinguished the State, seizing the duke, and his great officer Jingbo, whom the marquis employed to escort his daughter, Mu Ji, to Qin. The marquis continued the sacrifices of Yu in Jin, and presented to the king the tribute due from it. The brief language of the text is condemnatory of Yu, and expresses, besides, the ease with which Jin annexed it.’

There is a fragrant herb, and a noisome one

In ancient China, one man could have as many wives as he could and he could marry more than both sisters, like King Shun married two daughters of King Yao, Er-huang and Nu-ying.

In this story, the Duke Xian of Jin had wished to make Li Ji his wife, Li Ji has a sister who could accompany to the harem, there were also other Li Ji’s relatives companying her to the harem as duke’s concubines.

Before the decision was made, following the traditions, the duke consulted the divination to see if the marriage was lucky. The tortoise-shell indicated that the thing would be unlucky, but the milfoil pronounced it lucky. The duke said, “I will follow the milfoil.” The diviner by the tortoise-shell said, “The milfoil is reckoned inferior in its indications to the tortoise-shell. You had better follow the latter. And moreover, the oracle was:—

‘The change made by inordinate devotion Steals away the good qualities of the duke. There is a fragrant herb, and a noisome one; And ten years hence the noisomeness will continue.’ Do not do as you propose.” The duke would not listen to this advice, and declared Li Ji his wife. She gave birth to Xiqi, and her sister bore Zhuozi.

This caused big troubles to the state of Jin as it turned out exactly as the tortoise-shell had prophesied, and normally did the polygamy because of competition for the rights of heir among many sons.

‘When the duke was about to declare Xiqi his heir, having determined on his plans with the great officers about the court, Li Ji said to his eldest son, “The duke has been dreaming about Qi Jiang [the eldest son’s mother]; you must soon sacrifice to her.” The young prince sacrificed to his mother in Quwo, and sent some of the sacrificial flesh and spirits to the duke, who was hunting when they came. Ji kept them in the palace six days, and when the duke arrived, she poisoned them and presented them to him. The duke poured some of the spirits on the ground, which was agitated by them. He gave some of the flesh to a dog, which died; and some of the spirits to one of the attendants, who also died. Ji wept and said, “This is your eldest son’s attempt to murder you.” The son fled to the new city Quwo; but the duke put to death his tutor, Du Yuankuan.

Some one said to the son, “Explain the matter. The duke is sure to discriminate.” The son, however, said, “Without the lady Ji, my father cannot enjoy his rest or his food. If I explain the matter, the guilt will be fixed on her. The duke is getting old, and I will have taken his joy from him.” The friend said, “Had you not better go away then?” “The duke,” replied the prince, “will not examine into who is the guilty party; and if I, with the name of such a crime, go away from the State, who will receive me?” In the 12th month, on Wushen, he strangled himself in the new city.

‘Ji then slandered the duke’s two other sons, saying that they were both privy to their brother’s attempt, on which Chong’er fled to Pu, and Yiwu fled to Qu.’

When disaster is immanent, the ruler listens to spirits

In the 32nd Year of Duke Zhuang of Lu,  year 32, 661 B.C.

In autumn, in the seventh month, there was the descent of a spirit in Xin [Xin belonged to the state of Guo]. King Hui asked Guo, the historiographer of the interior, the reason for it, and he replied:

“When a state is about to flourish, intelligent spirits descend into it, to survey its virtue. When it is going to perish, spirits also descend into it, to behold its wickedness. Thus there have been instances of states flourishing from spirits appearing, and also of states perishing. Cases in point might be adduced from the dynasties of Yu, Xia, Shang, and Zhou.”

The king then asked what should be done in the case of this spirit, and Guo replied: “Present to it its own proper offerings, which are those proper to the day on which it came.” The king acted accordingly, and the historiographer went [to Guo and presented the offerings]. There he heard that [the duke of] Guo had been requesting the favor [of enlarged territory] from the spirit, and on his return, he said, “Guo is sure to perish. The duke is oppressive and listens to spirits.”

The spirit stayed in Xin six months, when the duke of Guo caused the prayer-master Ying, the superintendent of the ancestral temple Qiu, and the historiographer Yin to sacrifice to the spirit, and the spirit [promised] to give him territory. The historiographer Yin said, “Ah! Guo will perish. I have heard that, when a state is about to flourish, [its ruler] listens to the people; when it is about to perish, he listens to spirits. The spirits are intelligent, correct, and impartial. How they act depends on human beings. The coldness of Guo’s virtue [DE] extends to many things. How can any increase of territory be obtained.”

The first drumbeat excites the spirit

Yi Gu Zuo Qi (一鼓作气): One drumbeat create courage, or Cao Gui (曹刿) discuss war with the Duke of Lu.

Victory depends on the loyalty of the troops and on the prudent strategy of commanders.

In his tenth year, in spring, the army of Qi invaded the state of Lu, and the duke of Lu was about to fight, when one Cao Gui requested to be introduced to him. One of Gui’s fellow villagers said to him, “The flesh-eaters are planning for the occasion. What have you to do to intermeddle?” He replied, “The flesh-eaters are poor creatures and cannot form any far-reaching plans.”

So he entered and was introduced. He asked the duke what encouragement he had to fight. The duke said, “Clothes and food minister to my repose, but I do not dare to monopolize them. I make it a point to share them with others.” “That,” replied Gui, “is but small kindness and does not reach to all. The people will not follow you for that.” The duke said, “In the victims, the gems, and the silks, used in sacrifice, I do not dare to go beyond the appointed rules. I make it a point to be sincere.” “That is but small sincerity; it is not perfect. The spirits will not bless you for that.” The duke said again, “In all matters of legal process, whether small or great, although I may not be able to search them out thoroughly, I make it a point to decide according to the real circumstances.” “That,” answered Gui, “bespeaks a loyal-heartedness. You may venture one battle on that. When you fight, I beg to be allowed to attend you.” The duke took him with him in his chariot.

The battle was fought in Chang Shao (长勺之战). The duke was about to order the drums to beat an advance, when Gui said, “Not yet.” And after the men of Qi had advanced three times with their drums beating, he said, “Now is the time.” The army of Qi received a severe defeat, but when the duke was about to dash after them, Gui again said, “Not yet.” He then got down and examined the tracks left by their chariot wheels, remounted, got on the front-bar, and looked after the flying enemy. After this he said, “Pursue,” which the duke did.

When the victory had been secured, the duke asked Gui the reasons of what he had done. “In fighting,” was the reply, “all depends on the courageous spirit. When the drums first beat, that excites the spirit. A second advance occasions a diminution of the spirit, and with a third, it is exhausted. With our spirit at the highest pitch, we fell on them with their spirit exhausted, and so we conquered them. But it is difficult to fathom a great state. I was afraid there might be an ambush. I looked therefore at the traces of their wheels and found them all confused; I looked after their flags, and they were drooping. Then I gave the order to pursue them.”

Shi Que has his own son put to death

Duke Zhuang of Wei had married the sister of Dechen, the heirson of the marquis of Qi, known as Zhuang Jiang. She was beautiful but childless.

From left to right: Shi Que, Zhou Yu, Shi Hou

The duke then married a daughter of the House of Chen, called Li Gui, who had a son called Xiaobo that died early. Dai Gui, who had accompanied her to the harem, had a son, who was afterwards Duke Huan, and who was cherished by Zhuang Jiang as her own child.

There was also Zhouyu, another son of the duke by a favourite concubine, a favoured child, and fond of his weapons, not restrained by the duke, but hated by Zhuang Jiang.

Shi Que remonstrated with the duke, saying, “Your servant has heard that, when you love a son, you should teach him righteous ways, and not help him on in the course of depravity. There are pride, extravagance, lewdness, and dissipation, by which one depraves himself; but these four vices come from overindulgence and allowances. If you are going to make Zhouyu your successor, settle him in that position; if you have not yet decided on such a step, you are paving the way for him to create disorder. Few there are who can be favoured without getting arrogant; few arrogant who can submit themselves to others; few who can submit themselves without being indignant at their position; and few who can keep patient under such a feeling of indignancy. And moreover, there are what are called the six instances of insubordination, -when the mean stand in the way of the noble; or the young presume against their elders; or distant relatives cut out those who are near; or new friends alienate from the old; or a small Power attacks a great one; or lewdness defeats righteousness. The ruler righteous and the minister acting accordingly; the father kind and the son dutiful; the elder brother loving and the younger respectful:-these are what are called the six instances of what should be. To put away what should be and follow what should not be, is the way to accelerate calamity; and when a ruler of men accelerates the calamity which it should be his object to keep off, is not the case a deplorable one?”

The duke did not listen to this remonstrance; and Que’s son, Hou, became a companion of Zhouyu. The father tried to restrain him, but in vain. When Duke Huan succeeded to his father, Que withdrew from public life on the plea of old age.

In the year 717 BC, Zhouyu of Wei had murdered duke Huan, and taken his place. This started the confusion in Wei.

Zhou Yu, finding himself unable to attach the people to himself, Shi Que’s son Shi Hou asked his father how to establish the prince in the State. Shi Que said, “It may be done by his going and having an audience of the king.”

“But how can this audience be obtained?”

“Duke Huan of Chen,” replied the father, “is now in favor with the king, and Chen and Wei are on friendly terms. If the marquis go to the court of Chen and get the duke to ask an audience for him, it may be got.”

At this, Hou went with Zhou Yu to Chen, but Shi Que sent information to Chen, saying, “The State of Wei is narrow and small, and I am aged and can do nothing. These two men are the real murderers of my prince, and I venture [to ask] that you will instantly take the [proper] measures with them.”

The people of Chen made them prisoners and requested Wei to send and manage the rest. In the ninth month, the people of Wei sent Chou, the Superintendent of the Right, who put Zhou Yu to death at Pu, and Shi Que sent his steward, Nao Yang Jian, who put Shi Hou to death in the capital of Chen.

A superior man may say, “Shi Que was a minister without blemish. He hated Zhou Yu, with whom his own son Hou was art and part. And did he not thus afford an illustration of the saying that great righteousness is supreme over the affections?”

I will not see you again till I have reached the yellow spring

The earl of Zheng overcame Duan in Yan

‘Duke Wu of Zheng had married a daughter of the House of Shen, called Wu Jiang, who bore duke Zhuang and his brother Duan of Gong. Duke Zhuang was born breech, which frightened the lady so that she named him Wusheng, and hated him, while she loved Duan, and wished him to be declared his father’s heir. Often did she ask this of duke Wu, but he refused it. When duke Zhuang came to the earldom, she begged him to confer on Duan the city of Zhi. “It is too dangerous a place,” was the reply. “The Younger of Guo died there; but in regard to any other place, you may command me.” She then requested Jing; and there Duan took up his residence, and came to be styled Taishu (the Great Younger) of Jing city. Zhong of Zhai said to the duke, “Any metropolitan city, whose wall is more than 3,000 cubits round, is dangerous to the State. According to the regulations of the former kings, such a city of the 1st order can have its wall only a third as long as that of the capital; one of the 2d order, only a fifth as long; and one of the least order, only a ninth. Now Jing is not in accordance with these measures and regulations. As ruler, you will not be able to endure Duan in such a place.” The duke replied, “It was our mother’s wish;—how could I avoid the danger?” “The lady Jiang,” returned the officer, “is not to be satisfied. You had better take the necessary precautions, and not allow the danger to grow so great that it will be difficult to deal with it. Even grass, when it has grown and spread all about, cannot be removed;—how much less the brother of yourself, and the favoured brother as well!” The duke said, “By his many deeds of unrighteousness he will bring destruction on himself. Do you only wait a while.”

‘After this, Taishu ordered the places on the western and northern borders of the State to render to himself the same allegiance as they did to the earl. Then Gongzi Lü said to the duke, “A State cannot sustain the burden of two services;—what will you do now? If you wish to give Zheng to Taishu, allow me to serve him as a subject. If you do not mean to give it to him, allow me to put him out of the way, that the minds of the people be not perplexed.” “There is no need,” the duke replied, “for such a step. His calamity will come of itself.”

‘Taishu went on to take as his own the places from which he had required their divided contributions, as far as Linyan. Zifeng [the designation of Gongzi Lü above] said, “Now is the time. With these enlarged resources, he will draw all the people to himself.” The duke replied, “They will not cleave to him, so unrighteous as he is. Through his prosperity he will fall the more.”

‘Taishu wrought at his defences, gathered the people about him, put in order buffcoats and weapons, prepared footmen, and chariots, intending to surprise Zheng, while his mother was to open to him from within. The duke heard the time agreed on between them, and said, “Now we can act.” So he ordered Zifeng, with two hundred chariots, to attack Jing. Jing revolted from Taishu, who then entered Yan, which the duke himself proceeded to attack; and in the 5th month, on the day Xinchou, Taishu fled from it to Gong.

‘Immediately after these events, duke Zhuang placed his mother Jiang in Chengying, and swore an oath, saying, “I will not see you again, till I have reached the yellow spring (dead and under the yellow earth)!” But he repented of this. By and by, Ying Kaoshu, the borderwarden of the vale of Ying, heard of it, and presented an offering to the duke, who caused food to be placed before him. Kaoshu put a piece of meat on one side; and when the duke asked the reason, he said, “I have a mother who always shares in what I eat. But she has not eaten of this meat which you, my ruler, have given, and I beg to be allowed to leave this piece for her.” The duke said, “You have a mother to give it to. Alas! I alone have none.” Kaoshu asked what the duke meant, who then told him all the circumstances, and how he repented of his oath. “Why should you be distressed about that?” said the officer. “If you dig into the earth to the yellow springs, and then make a subterranean passage, where you can meet each other, who can say that your oath is not fulfilled?” The duke followed this suggestion; and as he entered the passage sang,

“This great tunnel, within, With joy doth run.” When his mother came out, she sang, “This great tunnel, without, The joy files about.”

After this, they were mother and son as before. A superior man may say, “Ying Kaoshu was filial indeed. His love for his mother passed over to and affected duke Zhuang. Was there not here an illustration of what is said in the Book of Poetry, “A filial son of piety unfailing, There shall for ever be conferred blessing on you?”

To drink a penalty

In B.C. 533, when Kih Tâo-dze, a great officer of the state of Zin, died, before he was buried, duke Phing of Zin was (one day) drinking along with the music-master Kwang and Lî Thiâo. The bells struck up; and when Tû Khwâi, who was coming in from outside, heard them, he said, ‘Where is the music?’ Being told that it was in the (principal) apartment, he entered it; and having ascended the steps one by one, he poured out a cup of spirits, and said, ‘Kwang, drink this.’ He then poured out another, and said, Thiâo, drink this.’ He poured out a third cup; and kneeling in the hall, with his face to the north, he drank it himself, went down the steps, and hurried out.

Duke Phing called him in again, and said, ‘Khwâi, just now I thought you had something in mind to enlighten me about, and therefore I did not speak to you. Why did you give the cup to Kwang?’ ‘On the days (Kiâ-)dze and (Kî-)mâo,’ was the reply, ‘there should be no music; and now Kih Tâo-dze is (in his coffin) in his hall, and this should be a great dze or mâo day. Kwang is the grand music-master, and did not remind you of this. It was on this account that I made him drink.’

‘And why did you give a cup to Thiâo?’ Tû Khwâi said, ‘Thiâo is your lordship’s favourite officer; and for this drinking and eating he forgot the fault you were committing. It was on this account I made him drink.’

‘And why did you drink a cup yourself?’ Khwâi replied, ‘I am (only) the cook; and neglecting my (proper work of) supplying you with knives and spoons, I also presumed to take my part in showing my knowledge of what should be prohibited. It was on this account that I drank a cup myself.’

Duke Phing said,’ I also have been in fault. Pour out a cup and give it to me.’ Tû Khwâi then rinsed the cup, and presented it. The duke said to the attendants, ‘When I die, you must take care that this cup is not lost.’ Down to the present day, (at feasts in Sin), when the cups have been presented all round, they then raise up this cup, and say, ‘It is that which Tû presented.’