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
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
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.