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36: CHAPTER XXXV. Strictures on Han Fei Tse

CHAPTER XXXV. Strictures on Han Fei Tse (Fei Han). 

Han Fei Tse's 1 system consists in propounding the law and 

making much of success. Worthies who do not benefit the State, 

he will not reward, and bad characters who do not interfere with 

the administration, he does not punish. He grants rewards as an 

incentive to extraordinary actions, and he relies so much on criminal 

law, that he makes use of capital punishment. When speaking of 

the Literati, he says that they eat, but do not sow, and likens 

them to voracious grubs.2 Discussing the question of usefulness, 

he compares them with a deer and a horse. A horse resembling 

a deer fetches a thousand chin.3 There are horses on earth worth 

so much, but no deer costing a thousand chin. Deer are useless, 

horses are useful. The Literati are like the deer, the active officials 

like the horse.4 

Han Fei Tse knows very well how to make use of the parable 

of the deer and the horse, but not that of the cap and the shoe. 

Provided that Han Fei Tse presented himself at court only in his 

shoes and without a cap, I would listen to his words. But he 

will appear at court with his cap on his head. He uses a useless 

article of dress, and thereby increases the number of the useless 

scholars. His words do not agree with his dress, and there is a 

want of harmony between his theory and his practice. Therefore 

I condemn his words, and reject his method. 

There is nothing more trying to the body of an individual 

and less profitable to it than kneeling and prostrating one's self. 

If Han Fei Tse, when meeting any one, does not make obeisance, 

and in the presence of his sovereign or his father does not show 

his respect, he does not do any harm to his body, but these ceremonies must be gone through out of respect for one's parents. 

1 On the Taoist philosopher Han Fei Tse see p. 170. 

2 In Chapt. 19, No. 49, p. 1 of Han Fei Tse's work. The chapter is entitled 

the : " Five kinds of voracious grubs." 

3 An ancient coin or a monetary unit whose value is doubtful. 

4 Cf. Han Fei Tse XUI, 5v. 

Lun - Heng. 28 

434 Lun-hêng: E, Critique. 

These rules of propriety are very important and cannot be neglected. 

While they are being observed by any one, his body does not 

become fat thereby, and when he disregards them, his body does 

not become weak nor decay. 

If he speaks of utility, then propriety and righteousness are 

not like eating and drinking. Would Han Fei Tse, in case he was 

granted the previlege of eating in the presence of his sovereign 

or his father, dare to do so without first bowing? Such a homage 

shown to a superior would be a manifestation of propriety and 

righteousness, but no benefit to the body. Yet after all Han Fei Tse 

would not do away with it, nor would he reject propriety and 

righteousness in view of a temporary profit. The Literati are 

propriety and righteousness, the agriculturists and warriors are 

eating and drinking. He who exalts agriculture and war. and 

despises the men of letters, would reject propriety and righteousness, and seek eating and drinking. 

When propriety and righteousness are neglected, the moral 

laws lose their force, there is confusion in the higher and the 

lower spheres, and the Yin and the Yang principles become disorganised. The dry and the wet seasons do not come in proper 

time then, the grain does not grow, and the people die of starvation. The agricuhurists have nothing to till, and the soldiers can 

do no fighting. 

1[Tse Kung desired to abolish the sacrificial sheep announcing 

the new moon. Confucius said, " T'se, you care for the sheep, I care 

for propriety."] Tse Kung disliked to immolate the sheep, whereas 

Confucius apprehended a disregard of propriety. 

If old dykes are removed as useless, an inundation will be 

the necessary consequence, and if the old ceremonies are abolished 

as good for nothing, one may be sure of a revolution. The Literati in 

this world are the old dykes of propriety and righteousness. When 

they are there, they are of no direct use, but their absence is fatal. 

From olden times schools have been erected, where the foundation is laid for power and honour. Officials have been appointed, 

and officers nominated. The officials cannot be suppressed, and 

the true doctrine cannot be rejected. The Literati are the officers 

in charge of the true principles. If they are considered to be 

useless and therefore suppressed, the true principles are lost simultaneously. These principles bring about no direct results, but man 

requires them for his achievements. 

1 Analects III, 17. 

Strictures on Han Fei Tse. 435 

When the foot walks on a path, this trodden path must not 

walk itself. The body has hands and feet; to move they require 

what remains unmoved. Thus things are perhaps useless, but the 

useful ones require them, they themselves have no direct effect, 

yet to those which have they are indispensable. Peasants and 

soldiers stand in need of the Literati, how could they be rejected 

and not be retained? Han Fei Tse denounces the scholars, saying 

that they are no use, and only do harm. He has in view the 

vulgar scholars, who do not exert themselves, nor in their dealings 

take account of propriety. They are scholars by name only, but 

by practice vulgar persons. They profess true science, but what 

they say is wrong, and they are hunting after official honours and 

titles. Consequently they cannot be held in esteem. Those who 

have a pure heart and whose conduct does not shun the light, 

do not strive for rank and emoluments. They would repudiate 

the position of a minister or a secretary of State, as if they were 

throwing away an old boot. Although they have not the same 

success as those who hold office and fill a post, their domain is 

propriety and righteousness. That which preserves a State, is 

propriety and righteousness. If the people do not practice these 

two virtues, they will overthrow the State and ruin their prince. 

Now, the scholars do pay regard to propriety, and love justice. 

In so far as they become the leaders of those fellows who are 

devoid of propriety, and incite those lacking justice, people do 

good, and learn to love their sovereign. That is also an advantage. 

Upon hearing of the fame of Po Yi 1 the greedy became disinterested, and the weak, resolute, and hearing of the renown of 

Liu Hsia Hui 2 the narrow-minded became generous, and the mean, 

liberal. The conversion was more extraordinary than had ever 

been witnessed by man before. Tuan Kan Mu closed his door and 

did not go out. Prince Wên of Wei used to bow, when passing 

his house, to show his respect. When the army of Chin heard of 

it, they suddenly did not invest Wei. 3 Had Wei not had Tuan Kan 

Mu, the soldiers of Ch'in would have invaded its territory and 

made a waste of it, for Ch'in was a powerful country, whose 

soldiers were ever victorious. Had they been let loose upon Wei, 

1 Cf. p. 168 Note 2. 

2 The posthumous designation of Chan Huo, 6th and 7th cent, b.c, who was 

magistrate of the Liu-hsia district in Lu and famous for his virtue. 

3 Ch'in desisted from its invasion of Wei in 399 b.c, because the Wei State 

was so flourishing under the Marquis Wên, who honoured the worthies and literati. 

Vid. Shi-chi chap. 44, p. 3v. 

486 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique. 

the kingdom of Wei would have gone to pieces. Its three armies 

would have been defeated, and the blood would have run over a 

thousand Li. Now a scholar closeted in his house and honoured 

by Wên of Wei, averted the troops of powerful Ch'in and saved the 

land of the Wei kingdom. His deserts in succouring the three 

armies could not have been greater, and nobody was worthier of 

a reward. 

In Ch'i there were living two scholars of the highest standard, 

called Kuang Chüeh and Hua Shih, two brothers. In their stern 

justice they did not bend their will, and refused to serve him 

whom they did not regard as their master. When T'ai Kung 1 was 

invested with Ch'i, he had the two men executed at the same time 

for inveigling the masses in Ch'i, setting them the example of not 

taking service with their ruler. Han Fei Tse approves of this on 

the ground that the two scholars were of no use and doing mischief.- However, Kuang Chüeh and Hua Shih were of the same 

type as Tuan Kan Mu. When T'ai Kung put them to death, no 

disaster had yet happened which they might have averted. The 

marquis Wên of Wei honoured Tuan Kan Mu, and subsequently he 

warded off powerful Ch'in and rescued Wei, a deed unparalleled 

forsooth. If Han Fei Tse acknowledges the high standard of Tuan 

Kan Mu, who shut himself up, and also admits that Wên of Wei was 

justified in honouring him, he is all right. But the conduct of 

K'uang Chüeh and Hua, Shih was as virtuous as that of Tuan Kan, Mu. 

Therefore it is wrong to approve of the penalty inflicted by T'ai 

Kung. Now, if Han Fei Tse disapproves of the conduct of Tuan 

Kan Mu, and objects to the marquis of Wei honouring him, it must 

be born in mind that Tuan Kan Mu by his conduct was very useful, and that the marquis of Wei honoured him on account of his 

merit. Thus Han Fei Tse would not reward merit, nor give credit 

to the useful. 

Some one might urge that the respect shown by the marquis 

to the dwelling place of Tuan Kan Mu and the subsequent nonarrival of the troops of Ch'in is not the result of administration, 

but of a single act, which cannot be always repeated and which, 

though instrumental in saving the State, does not deserve so much 

praise. But what is to be understood by administration? The 

maintenance of troops, the promulgation of the edicts concerning 

1 Cf. p. 172. T'ai Kung was the first duke of Ch'i. 

2 Han Fei Tse XIII, .5 speaks only of Kuang Chüh being put to death by 

T'ai Kung, not of Hua Shih. 

Strictures on Han Foi Tse. 437 

rewards and punishments, a stern criminal law, a strict discipline, 

and measures to increase the national wealthy and the military 

strength, all that is administration. Would Ch'in with her strength 

mind it? The Six 1 States were all wiped out by the troops of  

Ch'in. The soldiers of the Six States were courageous enough, 

and the onslaught of their armies not without vigour, yet not only 

did they not vanquish, but were utterly defeated at last, because 

they were not of equal force and inferior in numbers. Their administration might have been ever so evident, it was of no avail. 

If boys annoyed Mêng Pên 2 and, when he was roused to anger, 

would fight with him, sword in hand, they would certainly court 

defeat, being no match for him. Had the boys upon Mêng Pên 

becoming angry, soothed him by great politeness and reverence, he 

would not have been capable of doing harm to them. Ch'in's position 

towards Wei is analogous to that of Mêng Pên and the boys. The 

administration of Wei would certainly not have frightened Ch'in, 

just as Mêng Pên would not run away from the boys when wielding 

their swords. The honour and the respect shown to scholars and 

to the homes of worthies would be more than the politeness and 

reverence of the boys. 

The weak will have recourse to virtue, whereas those who 

have a strong army, will use their power. Because Ch'in had such 

a strong army, nothing could withstand her power. If they held 

back their troops, and recalled their men, and did not infest Wei, 

it was out of respect for Tuan Kan Mu and as a mark of esteem 

for the marquis of Wei. The honouring of worthies is an administrative measure of weak States and a means to increase the 

might of the powerless. How can it be said that this is not the 

result of administration? 

Han Kao Tsu had the intention to depose the heir-apparent. 

The empress Lü Hou in her distress summoned Chang Tse Fang 3 to 

ask his advice. Chang Tse Fang suggested that the crown-prince 

should reverently meet the Four Grey Beards,4 and present them 

with rich gifts. When Kao Tsu saw this, he changed his mind, 

and the prince was saved. Had Han Fei Tse advised Lü Hou, that, 

the best offensive were strong remonstrances, and the best defensive, 

energy, and that in this manner the prince would be safe, he 

1 See p. 278 Note 1. 

2 Cf. p. 380 Note 4. 

3 The same as Chang Liang, the helpmate of Han Kao Tsu. Cf. p. 235. 

4 Four recluses, who during the troubles attending the overthrow of the Ch'in 

dynasty had taken refuge into the mountains near Hsi-an-fu. 

438 Lun-hêng: E. Critique. 

would, on the contrary, have brought about his own death, not 

to speak of his deposition. The deep reverence of the crown- 

prince towards the four old men changed Han Kao Tsu's design. 

Just so the respect shown by the Marquis Wen of Wei to Tuan Kan 

Mu's home warded off the troops of powerful Ch'in. 

The government of a State requires the cultivation of two 

things, of virtue and of strength. Virtue is cultivated by maintaining famous men, whereby one shows one's ability to honour 

worthies. Strength is developed by keeping strong men, which 

shows that one knows how to use soldiers. Then we may say 

that all the civil and military measures are in operation, and that 

virtue and strength are sufficient. In the international intercourse, 

a State may win the other side by virtue, or repel it by force. 

If, in its foreign relations, it makes virtue its basis, and at the 

same time keeps a strong force, those who esteem virtue, will be 

on good terms with it without fighting, whereas those who do 

not care for virtue, will keep aloof for fear of military complications. 

King Yen of Hsü 1 practised benevolence and justice, and thirty- 

two States sent envoys to his court overland. When powerful 

Ch'u heard of this, it despatched its troops, and destroyed him. 

King Yen of Hsü possessed virtue, but had no strength in readiness. 

One cannot solely rely on virtue to govern a State, nor straight- 

way resort to force to ward off an enemy. In Han Fei Tse's system 

there is no room for the cultivation of virtue, whereas King Yen 

of Hsü did not rely on strength. Both their views were one-sided 

and contradictory. King Yen came to grief, because he was powerless, and we may be sure that Han Fei Tse would have to suffer 

for want of virtue. 

Human nature is pure or impure, selfish or disinterested, and 

people act accordingly. In the same manner plants and trees con- 

sist of different substances, which cannot change again. Kuang 

Chüeh and Hua Shih did not take office in Ch'i, as Tuan Kan Mu did 

not become an official in Wei. Their nature was pure and unselfish, they did not long for wealth or honour, criticised their 

times, and disliked this world. Their sense of justice prevented 

1 From Han Fei Tse chap. 19, p. 2v. we learn that Yen was the sovereign 

of a small State covering 500 square li in Han-tung (Hupei). King Wen of Ch'u, 

688-675 B.C., fearing the growing power of the virtuous Yen — Han Fei Tse speaks 

of 36 States which were allied to him— destroyed the Hsü State. Huai Nan Tse XIII, 

14v. also refers to Yen and mentions that 32 States were his allies. 

Strictures on Han Fei Tse. 439 

them from taking office inconsiderately. Even if they had not 

been executed, they would not have had followers. T'ai Kung put 

them to death, and Han Fei Tse thinks him quite right. But that 

would be denying that men have their special natures, and plants 

and trees their special substances. 

T'ai Kung beheaded the two scholars. Provided that there 

were people like them in Ch'i, they would certainly not have 

desisted from purifying their hearts, because the two were put to 

death, and if there were none, no training would have made them 

such. Yao did not execute Hsü Yü, 1 yet the people of T'ang 2 did 

not all live in nests. Wu Wang did not kill Po Yi, yet the people 

of Chou did not starve in solitude, and, when Marquis Wên of Wei 

had honoured Tuan Kan Mu's dwelling-place, the people of Wei did 

not all close their doors. Consequently, even if T'ai Kung had 

not executed the two men, the people of Ch'i would not all have 

disdained the official career, for people cannot assume integrity 

and disinterestedness at will. What people are unable to do, they 

cannot be induced to do, and all training and exhorting is in vain. 

Conversely what they can do, they cannot be hindered from doing, 

even executions are no preventive. Therefore the execution of the 

two scholars by T'ai Kung was not calculated to bring about improvement, it was a useless murder of innocent persons. 

Han Fei Tse would not approve of rewards without merit or 

of death without guilt. T ai Kung killed innocent men, yet Han 

Fei Tse assents to it, ergo his theory admits the assassination of 

the innocent. Those who persist in not taking office, have not 

necessarily some real guilt, yet T' ai Kung put them to death. If 

people, who had become officials, had no merit, would T ai Kung 

be willing to reward them? Rewards must be given to merit, and 

punishment meted out to the guilty. If T'ai Kung did not reward 

officials without merit, then his execution of innocent men, who 

did not want to become officials, was unjust. Han Fei Tse's approval 

is a mistake. 

Moreover, people who do not become officials generally have 

an unselfish character and few desires, whereas those who would 

like to take office, are greedy of profit. As long as desires and 

the thought of gain are not ingrafted in one's heart, one looks 

upon rank and salary as dung and dirt. The disinterested are 

1 A legendary hermit of the time of the emperor Yao, reported to have lived 

in a nest in a tree. 

2 Yao's principality. 

440 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique. 

extremely thrifty, the extravagance of the ambitious knows no 

bounds, and therefore their desires do not even recoil from their 

sovereign. Among the rebelling officials of ancient times those 

with pure and unselfish motives have been very few. The ambitious will make themselves conspicuous, and the haughty will 

risk their lives. For all the laurels won they aspire to a great 

reward, and in their immoderation covet princely dignity. 

T'ai Kung left his system behind, and subsequently Ch'i was 

the scene of the violent murder perpetrated by the Chên family.1 

T'ai Kung's system led to robbery and murder. Han Fei Tse praises 

it, which shows that his own theory is also very dangerous. When 

Chou Kung heard of the execution of the two men by T'ai Kung, 

he expressed his disapproval, and did not think him right. 2 Personally he took gifts and condescended to present them to scholars 

living in poor huts. 3 These scholars living in poor huts were like 

the two men. Chou Kung honoured them, and T'ai Kung put them 

to death. Whose action was the right one? 

In Sung there was a charioteer. A horse refused to go on. 

He thereupon drew his sword, cut its throat, and threw it into a 

ditch. He then tried another horse, which also would not go. 

Again he cut its throat, and threw it into a ditch. This he repeated thrice. It was a very strong measure to break the obstinacy 

of horses, but it was not the way of Wang Liang. When he stepped 

into a carriage, there was no horse stubborn or restive. During 

the reign of Yao and Shun, the people were not rebellious. Wang 

Liang knew how to touch the hearts of the horses, just as Yao 

and Shun influenced the popular feelings. 

Men have the same nature, but there are different kinds of 

horses. Wang Liang could manage these different kinds, whereas 

T'^ai Kung could not get along with scholars, who were all of the 

same nature. Chou Kung's kindness towards the poor scholars 

corresponds to Wang Liang's 'horse-breaking. T'ai Kungs execution 

of the two scholars is like the throat-cutting of the man of Sung. 

If Han Fei Tse were called upon to decide between the methods 

of Wang Liang and the man of Sung, he would certainly be in 

favour of Wang Liang and against the man of Sung. Wang Liang 

preserved the horses, the man of Sung destroyed them. The destruction 

1 In 481 B.C. Chên Hêng alias T'iên Chêng Tse murdered the sovereign of 

Ch'i, a descendant of T'ai Kung. The Chên family had assumed the name T'ien 

in Ch'i. Cf. Shi-chi chap. 32, p. 24v. and chap. 36, p. 7. 

2 Vid. Han Fei 7V XIII, 5. 

3 Cf. p. 489. 

Strictures on Han Fei Tse. 441 

of horses is not as good as their preservation. Thus it is 

better that people should live than that they should die. Should 

Han Fei Tse he against Wang Liang, he would be on a level with 

the man of Sung by destroying good people. If he be against the 

man of Sung, it must be borne in mind that the latter's method is 

the same as that of T'ai Kung. By condemning the man of Sung 

and upholding T'ai Kung, Han Fei Tse would show that he cannot 

discriminate between right and wrong. 

The government of a State is like governing an individual. 

If in governing an individual grace and virtue are seldom resorted 

to, but much bodily injury is inflicted, friends and partisans will 

make themselves scarce, lest disgrace should befall them. If the 

principles of governing an individual are extended to the government of a State, this government must be based on virtue. Han 

Fei Tse solely relies on criminal law to govern the world. That 

would mean that he who governs an individual, must trust to the 

infliction of injuries. Does Han Fei Tse not know that to place 

reliance on virtue is the best way? 

He holds that the world is depraved, that things have changed 

for the worse, and that the general feelings are base and mean. 

Therefore in working out a system his only thought is penal law. 

However, the world is not deficient in virtue, as a year is not 

deprived of its spring. Would he who contends that owing to its 

depravity the world cannot be governed by virtue, assert also that 

a year full of troubles does not generate in spring? 

A wise ruler governs a country as Heaven and Earth create 

all things. In a year of troubles they do not omit spring, and a 

wise ruler does not discard virtue, because the world is degenerated. 

Confucius said,1 "Those people were the cause of the steady progress of the three dynasties!" 2 

The time of King Mu of Chou 3 can be called one of decay. 

He attempted to govern with criminal law, but the result was 

confusion, and no glory was won. The Marquis of Fu remonstrated 

with him, and the king became attached to virtue, and enjoyed 

1 Analects XV, 24. 

2 The depravity of the people cannot have been as great as Han Fei Tse 

presumed, for otherwise the progress made during the three dynasties: — Hsia, Shang, 

and Chou could not have been accomplished. 

3 1001-946 B.C. 

442 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique. 

his kingdom for a long time. His deeds were handed down to 

posterity. King Mas administration first led to disorder, but at 

last to order, not because his mind was beclouded first, and his 

talents came forth later on, but because he at first relied on Ch'ih 

Yu's 1 criminal law, and only subsequently followed the advice of 

the Marquis of Fu. In governing individuals, one cannot do without 

mercy, in governing a State one cannot neglect virtue, and in 

creating things spring cannot be left out. Why does Han Fei Tse 

wish to rely on law and capital punishment alone? 

1[Duke Mu of Lu3 asked Tse Sse 4 saying, '"I have heard that 

P'ang Hsien is no filial son. How is his unfilial conduct?" 

Tse Sse replied, "A prince honours the virtuous to exalt virtue, 

and raises the good to admonish the people. As regards faults, 

only common people know about that, not I." 

When Tse Sse had left, Tse Fu Li Po saw the prince, who 

questioned him ahout P'ang Hsien's filial conduct also. Tse Fu Li Po 

rejoined, "Your Highness has not yet heard about all his misdeeds." 

Afterwards the prince held Tse Sse in esteem and despised 

Tse Fu Li Po.] When Han Fei Tse heard of it, he censured duke Mu 

on the ground that a wise ruler ought to search for scoundrels 

and punish them. Tse Sse would not speak about rascality, which 

Tse Fu Li Po did. Therefore, in Han Fei Tse's belief, the latter 

deserved honour, and the former contempt. Since Duke Mu esteemed 

Tse Sse and despised Tse Fu Li Po, he did not divide honour and 

contempt in the right way, hence Han Fei Tse's adverse criticism. 

Han Fei Tse lays the greatest stress upon administration. If 

a man does good, the administration rewards him, if he does evil, 

it punishes him. Even if good and evil do not transpire, they 

fall under strict rules. Yet merely hearing of a bad deed, one 

cannot punish at once, as hearing of a good one, one cannot rashly 

reward it. It is therefore not in keeping with the theory of Han 

Fei Tse to blame a man for not having denounced wickedness. 

1 A legendary person said to have lived at the time of the Emperor Huang Ti. 

He rebelled against the latter, and was defeated. Some say that he was a prince, 

who terrorized the people, others that he was a minister of Hnang Ti. 

2 Quoted with some slight alterations from Huai Nan Tse chap. 16, p. 1. 

3 408-375 B.C. 

4 His full name is K'ung Tse Sse or K'ung Chi, the grandson of Confucius, 

to whom the Chung-yung, the " Doctrine of the Mean " is ascribed. 

Strictures on Haii Fei Tse. 44o 

Suppose Han Fei Tse heard of a good action, he would certainly 

make investigations first and, in case some merit were brought to 

light thus, he would grant a reward. Upon the mere news of some 

good deed, one does not reward indiscriminately, for not every 

remark is reliable. Therefore it makes no difference, whether we 

hear of good actions or not. Hearing of goodness, one does not 

rashly reward, and upon hearing of wickedness, one does not 

punish forthwith. Hearing of goodness, one must first investigate, 

and hearing of badness, one must make inquiries. Provided some 

merit is discovered, then a reward may be given, and, if there is 

evidence, a penalty may be determined. Rewards and punishments 

are not given upon mere hearsay or vague appearances, before 

the truth is found out, and as long as they are not given, goodness and badness are not determined. Therefore there must be a 

method to establish them, and it is not right to require that one 

must have heard the thing with one's own ears. 

1[Tse Ch'an of Chêng 2 went out one morning, and passed the 

house of Tung Chiang, where he heard the cries of his wife. He 

grasped the hand of his attendant, and listened. After a while, 

he directed his officers to arrest the woman, and sue her for having 

murdered her husband with her own hand. 

The next day his attendant asked him, " Sir, how did you 

know all this? " 

Tse Ch'an replied, "Her voice was not moved. When people 

learn that those they love dearly are sick, they become depressed, 

when death approaches, they get alarmed, and, after death, give 

vent to their grief. This woman bewailed her dead husband, but 

in lieu of being grieved she was frightened. Thence I knew that 

she had committed a crime."] 

Han Fei Tse expressed his disapproval and said 3[, "Was not 

Tse Ch'an a busy body?" 

If a crime could only be known, when we perceive it with 

our own eyes or ears, very few cases would be disclosed in Chêng. 

And would it not be a lack of method, if the city police could 

not be trusted to possess the necessary insight for examining the 

conduct of the smaller congregations of the community, and if one 

had to use all own intelligence and mental power to discover 

such cases? "] 

1 Han Fei Tse chap. 16, p. 5. The text slightly differs. 

2 Tse Chan is the style of Kung Sun Ch'iao, a famous minister of the Chêng 

State, 581-521 b.c, who compiled a penal code. 

3 Loc. cit. p. 5v, 

444 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique. 

Han Fei Tse is justified in blaming Tse Ch'an, but be is wrong  

in his adverse comments on Duke Mu. The lack of grief of the 

woman is like the unfilial conduct of P'ang Hsien. Han Fei Tse 

objects to Tse Ch'an relying merely on his eyes and ears to get 

information about crimes, but, on the other hand, wishes that

Duke Mu should have made inquiries to determine the guilt of 

P'ang Hsien. Tse Ch'an had no recourse to the city police, and 

determined the truth from what he heard. Duke Mu did not 

place confidence in the police either, and attained the same result 

by his inquiries. Hearsay and inquiries are about the same thing. 

Neither trusted the police, or made investigations among the citizens. 

From Tse Fu Li Po's answer it is impossible to learn the truth, just 

as from the crying of the woman one cannot arrive at a cogent 

conclusion. If under such circumstances one orders the officers to 

arrest and try a person, one cannot find out the truth thereby. 

But how is it possible not to order the officers to make investigations and to charge a person with a crime without any inquiries 

merely upon the word of Tse Fu Li Po? 

Han Fei Tse says 1[, Tse Sse did not mention faults, and Duke 

Mu honoured him. Tse Fu Li Po spoke of crimes, and Duke Mu 

despised him. Human nature is such, that all people like honour 

and are displeased with contempt. 

When the Chi family 2 made trouble, it was not brought to 

the knowledge of the sovereign, and consequently the princes of 

Lu were robbed of their power.] Were they robbed, because they 

did not make a wise use of the laws and administration or, because 

they did not hear of the wicked designs in time? If the administration is wisely organised, wickedness has no field where it 

might grow, although it be not heard of, whereas in case the administration is not wise, the searching after criminals is like digging 

a well, and then trying to stop it with one hand. 

If a chariot-driver without a bridle sees a horse, it will run 

away, and he has no coercive means. Should, however, Wang 

Liang 3 have come near with reins in bis hand, no horse would 

have had the desire to bolt. He knew the method of driving 

horses. Now, nothing is said about the princes of Jm having no 

method, but it is mentioned that they did not hear of the treason- 

1 Han Fei Tse cliap. 16, p. 1. 

2 During the 6th cent. b.c. the Chi family, a side branch of the ducal house 

of Lu, engrossed the power in Lu and almost superseded the reigning princes. 

Confucius openly condemned their usurpation, Cf. p. 395. 

3 See above p. 440. 

Strictures on Han Fei Tse. 445 

able designs, nothing is said about their looking after the government, but it is emphasized that they did not understand the feelings 

of the people. Han Fei Tse's attack on Duke Mu does not tally 

with the tendency of his theory. 

Tse Sse did not speak of P'ang Hsien's unfilial conduct, therefore Duke Mu honoured him. Han Fei Tse blames him, saying that 

" a wise ruler looks out for the good to reward and for rascals to 

punish them." 1 — Unfilial persons have a very limited intellect. For 

want of insight, they know no propriety, and follow their desires 

and propensities just like beasts and birds. One may call them 

bad, but to call them rascals is not correct. Rascals are good in 

outward appearance, but bad inwardly, or "they show a stern 

exterior, and are inwardly weak," 2 and in their doings imitate the 

good to get on in their career. They smile to their superiors — 

how could they be unfilial? — but they do wicked things, which

make them worthy of capital punishment. P'ang Hsien can be 

said to have been unfilial, but not a rascal. If Han Fei Tse calls 

him so, he ignores the true meaning of this word. 

Han Fei Tse says:3 — ["If silk fabrics are so common, that 

ordinary people do not desire them, and if gold can be cast into 

a hundred coins without robber Chê snatching it away, then we 

can speak of a manifestation of law."] People do not dare to infringe it. If the law is manifest in a State, robbers are afraid to 

break it, and do not venture to bring about unforeseen calamities. 

They hide their vicious thoughts in their hearts, and dare not 

transgress the penal law, being in awe of it. If the law is known 

and dreaded, there is no need for investigating rascality, or inquiring after wickedness among the citizens. If the law is imposing, people are not vicious, if it is not, they commit many a 

felony. Now Han Fei Tse does not speak of the severe penalties 

and the awe-inspiring law of a wise sovereign, but that he is on 

the look-out for miscreants to punish them. If he says that he 

looks out for miscreants, the law is not awe-inspiring, so that 

people offend against it. In the world much more attention is 

paid to the persecution of criminals than to upholding the respect 

of the law. Therefore Han Fei Tse's remarks do not agree with 

the law. 

When the water of a creek is let out, those who know that 

it can drown a man, do not attempt to stop the current, but they 

1 Han Fei Tse loc. cit. 

2 Analects XVII, 12. 

3 Han Fei Tse chap. 19, p. 4. 

446 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique. 

keep boats and oars in readiness. They know the nature of the 

water, that its rush cannot be checked, and that it would certainly 

drown a man. When a subject or a son is bent upon committing 

a misdeed against his sovereign or his father, they are like the 

water which drowns a man. Now, Han Fei Tse does not inform 

us, which precautions might be taken against the crime, but takes 

exception that it is not known or heard of. This would be nothing 

else than not to prepare the necessary implements for the water, 

and merely to wish to learn, as soon as possible, that the water is 

drowning somebody. Being drowned by water one cannot hold 

the water accountable, but is oneself guilty of having neglected 

the necessary precautions. 

When a sovereign is robbed by a subject, he himself has 

neglected the law. Preparing against drowning, one does not dam 

in the fountain-head, and in guarding oneself against an attack, 

one does not look out for the misdemeanours of the subjects. 

Han Fei Tse stands in need of self-instruction on these points. 

The nature of water is stronger than fire, but pour the water 

into a kettle, it will boil, but not gain the upper hand. A sovereign 

is like fire, a subject like water, administration is the kettle. Fire 

does not seek the misdeeds of water. Thus a prince ought not 

to search for the faults of his subjects.