CHAPTER XXXIX. Exaggerations (Yü-tsêng).
The Records say that Sages toil and trouble for the world,
devoting to it all their thoughts and energies, that this harasses
their spirits, and affects their bodies. Consequently Yao is reported
to have been like shrivelled flesh, and Shun like dried food, whereas
Chieh and Chou had an embonpoint over a foot thick. One may well
say that the bodies of Sages working hard for the world, and
straining their minds for mankind, are weakened, and that they
do not become stout or fat, but to say that Yao and Shun were
like dried flesh or food, and that the embonpoint of Chieh and Chou
measured over a foot is exaggerating.
Duke Huan of Ch'i said: — " Before I had got hold of Kuan
Chung, I had the greatest difficulties, after I had got him, everything was easy"." Duke Huan did not equal Yao and Shun, nor
was Kuan Chung on a par with Yü and Hsieh. 1 If Duke Huan found
things easy, how could they have been difficult to Yao and Shun?
From the fact that Duke Huan, having obtained the assistance of
Kuan Chung, went on easily, we may infer that Yao and Shun after
having secured the services of Yü and Hsieh cannot have been in
difficulties. A man at ease has not many sorrows. Without sorrows
he has no troubles, and if he is not troubled, his body does not
Shun found perfect peace brought about by Yao, both carried
on the virtues of the preceding generation and continued the pacification of the border tribes. Yao had still some trouble, but Shun
could live at ease and unmolested. The Book of History says that
the Supreme Ruler gave repose, 2 which refers to Shun, for Shun
found peace everywhere, he continued the government, appointed
intelligent officers, employed able men, and enjoyed a dignified
repose, while the Empire was well administrated. Therefore
1 Yü and Hsieh were both ministers of Yao and Shun. Yü became emperor
2 Shuking Part V, Bk. XIV, 5 (Legge, Classics Vol. Ill, Pt. U, p. 455). The
passage has been variously explained.
482 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
Confucius exclaims: — "Grand were Shun and Yü who, possessing the
Empire, did not much care for it." 1 In spite of this Shun is said
to have been dried up like preserved meat, as though he had been
lacking in virtue, and had taken over a state in decay like Confucius, who restlessly" wandered about seeking employment, having
no place to rest in, no way to walk, halting and tumbling down
on the roads, his bones protruding.
Chou passed the whole night drinking. Sediments lay about
in mounds, and there was a lake of wine. Chou was swimming
in wine, stopping neither by day nor by night. The result must
have been sickness. Being sick, he could not enjoy eating and
drinking, and if he did not enjoy eating and drinking, his fatness
could not attain one foot in thickness.
The Book of History remarks that debauchery was what they 2
liked, and that they could not reach a great age. 3 Prince Wu Chi
of Wei 4 passed his nights feasting, but these excesses proved such
a poison to him, that he died. If Chou did not die, his extravagance ought at least to have shattered his system. Chieh and
Chou doing the same, ought to have contracted the same sickness.
To say that their embonpoint was over a foot thick is not only an
exaggeration, but an untruth.
Of Chou there is further a record that his strength was such,
that he could twist iron, and straighten out a hook, pull out a
beam, and replace it by a pillar. This is meant to be illustrative
of his great strength. 5 Men like Fei Lien and Lai 6 were much
liked by him, and stood high in his favour, which is tantamount
to saying that he was a sovereign very fond of cunning and
strength, and attracted people possessing those qualities.
Now there are those who say that, when Wu Wang defeated
Chou, the blades of his weapons were not stained with blood.
When a man with such strength, that he could twist iron and
1 Analects VIII, 18.
2 The last emperors of the Hsia dynasty.
3 Quoted from the Shuking Part V, Bk. XV, 7 (Legge, Classics Vol. Ill, Pt. II,
4 Died 244 b.c. Wu Chi was a famous general of the Wei State, who inflicted some crushing defeats upon the armies of Ch'in. For some time he succeeded
in checking the encroachments of Ch'in. It was not, until his later years, that he
retired from public life, and gave himself up to debauchery.
5 The Shi-chi chap. 3, p. 10 likewise ascribes superhuman forces and extraordinary natural endowments to the last ruler of the Hsia dynasty.
" Fei Lien and O Lai were two clever, but wicked consellors of King Chou.
In the Shi-chi chap. 3, p. 11 v. Fei Lien is called Fei Chung.
straighten out hooks, with such supporters as Fei Lien and O Lai
tried issues with the army of Chou, 1 Wu Wang, however virtuous
he may have been, could not have deprived him of his natural
abilities, and Chou, wicked though he was, would not have lost
the sympathy of his associates. Although he was captured by
Wu Wang, some ten or hundred people must have been killed or
wounded at that time. If the blades were not stained with blood,
it would contradict the report of Chou's great strength and the
support he received from Fei Lien and O Lai. 2
The auspicious portents of Wu Wang did not surpass those
of Kao Tsu. Wu Wang saw a lucky augury in a white fish and a
red crow, 3 Kao Tsu in the fact that, when he cut a big snake in
two, an old woman cried on the road. 4 Wu Wang had the succour
of eight hundred barons, Kao Tsu was supported by all the patriotic
soldiers of the Empire, Wu Wang's features were like those of a
staring sheep. 5 Kao Tsu had a dragon face, a high nose, a red
neck, a beautiful beard and 72 black spots on his body. 6 When
Kao Tsu fled, and Lü Hou 7 was in the marshes, she saw a haze
over his head. 8 It is not known that Wu Wang had such an omen.
In short, his features bore more auspicious signs than Wu Wang's
look, and the portents were clearer than the fish and the crow.
The patriotic soldiers of the Empire assembled to help the Han, 9
and were more powerful than all the barons.
Wu Wang succeeded King Chou, and Kao Tsu took over the
inheritance of Erh Shih Huang Ti of the house of Chin, which was
much worse than that of King Chou. The whole empire rebelled
against Ch'in, with much more violence than under the Yin dynasty.
When Kao Tsu had defeated the Ch'in, he had still to destroy
Hsiang Yü. The battle field was soaked with blood, and many
thousands of dead bodies lay strewn about. The losses of the
1 The Chou dynasty which overthrew the Shang or Yin dynasty. The name
of King Chou Hsin of the Shang dynasty has the same sound, but is quite a different
2 According to the Shi-chi and the Shuking King Chou fled, when his troops
had been routed by Wu Wang, and burned himself, dressed in his royal robes, in
the palace. He was not caught by Wu Wang.
3 Cf. p. 130.
4 Cf. p. 178.
5 Wu Wang had large, staring sheep's eyes.
6 Cf. p. 305.
7 The wife of Han Kao Tsu.
8 Cf. p. 178.
9 The Han dynasty.
484 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
defeated army were enormous. People had, as it were, to die
again and again, before the Empire was won. The insurgents
were exterminated by force of arms with the utmost severity.
Therefore it cannot be true that the troops of Chou 1 did not even
stain their swords with blood. One may say that the conquest
was easy, but to say that the blades were not stained with blood,
is an exaggeration.
When the Chou dynasty conquered the empire of the Yin, it
was written in the strategical book of T'ai Kung 2 that a young
boy brought up [in the camp] Tan Chiao had said: — "The troops
which are to destroy Yin have arrived in the plain of Mu.3 At
dawn they carry lamps with fat." According to the " Completion
of the War" 4 the battle in the plain of Mu was so sanguinary, that
the pestles 5 were swimming in the blood, and over a thousand Li
the earth was red. After this account the overthrow of the Yin
by the Chou must have been very much like the war between the
Han and Ch'in dynasties. The statement that the conquest of the
Yin territory was so easy, that the swords were not stained with
blood is meant as a compliment to the virtue of Wu Wang, but it
exaggerates the truth. All things of this world must be neither
over- nor under-estimated. If we examine, how the facts follow
one another, all the evidence comes forth, and on this evidence
the truth or the untruth can be established.
People glorify Chou's force by saying that he could twist
iron, and at the same time praise Wu Wang, because the weapons,
with which he destroyed his opponent, were not blood-stained.
Now, if anybody opposed his enemies with a strength that could
twist iron and straighten out a hook, he must have been a match
for Mêng Pên and Hsia Yü, 6 and he who managed to defeat his adversary through his virtue without staining his swords with blood,
must have belonged to the Three Rulers or to the Five Emperors.7
Endowed with sufficient strength to twist iron, the one could not
be compelled to submission, whereas the other, possessing such
1 The Chou dynasty.
2 T'ai Kung Wang, the counsellor of Wu Wang, laid the plans of the campaign
against the Yin dynasty.
3 This plain was situated in Honun.
4 This is the title of the 3d Book of the 5th Part of the Shuking. (Cf. Legge,
Classics Vol. Ill, Pt. II, p. 315.)
5 With which the soldiers were pounding their rice.
6 Mêng Pên and Hsia Yii are both famous for their gigantic strength. The
one could tear off the horns, the other the tail from a living ox. Both lived in the
7 The legendary rulers accomplished everything by their virtues.
virtue that his weapons were not reddened with blood, ought not
to have lost one soldier. If we praise Chous strength, \Vu Wang's
virtue is disparaged, and, if we extol Wu Wang, Choiis strength
dwindles away. The twisting of iron and the fact that the blades
were not covered with blood are inconsistent, and the praise be-
stowed simultaneously on the Yin and the Choii mutually clashes.
From this incompatibility it follows that one proposition must be
Confucius 1 said: — "Chou's wickedness was not so very great.
Therefore the superior man hates to consort with base persons,
for the faults of the whole world are laid to their charge."- Mencius
said: — " From the ' Completion of the War' I accept but two or three
paragraphs. If the most humane defeated the inhumane, how
could so much blood be spilt, that clubs swam in it?" 3 The
utterance of Confucius would seem to uphold the swimming of
clubs, whereas the words of Mencius are very much akin to the
assertion that the weapons were not stained with blood. The
first overshoots the mark, the second falls short of it. Thus
a Sage and a Worthy 4 pass a judgment on Chou, but both use
a different weight, and one gives him credit for more than the
Chou was not as depraved as Wang Mang.5 Chou killed Pi
Kan, 6 but Wang Mang poisoned the emperor P ing Ti.'' Chou became
emperor by succession, Wang Mang usurped the throne of the Han.
To assassinate one's sovereign is infinitely worse than the execution
of a minister, and succession to the throne is quite different from
usurpation. Deeds against which the whole people rose up, must
have been worse than those of Chou. When the Han destroyed
Wang Mang, their troops were exhausted at K'un-yang, 8 the deaths
numbering ten thousand and more. When the forces reached the
1 Analects XIX, 20. In our text of the Lun-yü these words are not spoken
by Confucius himself, but by his disciple Tse Kung.
2 A good man avoids the society of disreputable people, for every wickedness
is put to their account, even if they be innocent. Thus King Chou has been better
than his name, which has become a by-word for every crime. Cf. p. 478.
3 Mencius Book VII, Pt. II, chap. 3. The most humane was Wu Wang.
4 In the estimation of the Confucianists Mencius is only a Worthy, not a
Sage like Confucius.
5 Wang Mang the usurper reigned from 9 to 23 a.d.
6 Pi Kan was a relative of Chou. When he remonstrated with him upon his
excesses, Chou caused him to he disembowelled.
7 1-6 A.D.
8 A city in southern Hnnan.
486 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
Ch'ien terrace,1 the blood made all the foot-prints and ruts invisible.
Consequently it cannot be true that, when the Chou conquered
the Empire, the weapons were not even stained with blood.
It is on record that Wên Wang could drink a thousand bumpers
of wine and Confucius a hundred gallons. We are to infer from
this, how great the virtue of these Sages was, which enabled them
to master the wine. If at one sitting they could drink a thousand
bumpers or a hundred gallons, they must have been drunkards, and
In drinking wine there is a certain method, and the chests
and stomachs of the Sages must have been of nearly the same size
as those of others. Taking food together with wine, they would
have eaten a hundred oxen, while drinking one thousand bumpers,
and ten sheep would correspond to a hundred gallons. If they
did justice to a thousand bumpers and a hundred oxen, or to a
hundred gallons and ten sheep. Wên Wang must have been as gigantic as the Prince of Fang-fêng 2 and Confucius like a Great Ti. 3
Wên Wang and Confucius did not equal the Prince of Fang-fêng or
the Great Ti in length. Eating and drinking such enormous quantities with small bodies would be derogatory to the grandeur of
Wên Wang, and undignified in Confucius. According to the Chapter
" Chiu Kao," 4 Wên Wang would say morning and evening: — "pour
out this wine in libation." 5 This shows how careful Wên Wang
was about wine. Because he was so careful morning and evening,
the people were converted thereby. Had his advice to be careful
only been for outside, while he himself emptied a thousand bumpers
at home, the efforts to educate the people and his subjects would
have been in vain. And how would he have distinguished himself
from the depravity of Chou, whose successor he was?
Moreover, at what time should the thousand bumpers and
the hundred gallons have been drunk? When Wên Wang and Confucius
1 A terrace near Chang-an-fu, where Wang Mang made his last stand.
2 A feudal prince of gigantic size said to have lived under the Emperor Yü,
who put him to death. Cf. Han Fei Tse chap. 19, p. 11v.
3 Ti is a general name for northern barbarians. The Shuking, Hung-fan,
五行, speaks of a Ti measuring over 50 feet, Ku Liang of three Ti brothers, of
which one was so enormous, that his body covered 9 Mou.
4 I.e. " Announcement about wine." 酒诰
5 Cf, p, 121.
offered wine in sacrifice? Then the sacrificial meat would
not have sufficed to satiate them. At the shooting-feast? At the
shooting-feast there were certain recognised rules for drinking wine. 1
If at a private banquet they gave their guests wine to drink, they
must have given to all their inferiors equally. The emperor would
first take three cups, and then retire. Drinking more than three,
he would have become intoxicated, and misbehaved himself. But
Wên Wang and Confucius were men to whom propriety was every-
thing. If they had given so much to their attendants, that they
became drunk and disorderly, they themselves taking a thousand
bumpers of wine or a hundred gallons, they would have been like
Chieh and Chou or, to say the least, drunkards. How could they
then have manifested their virtues and improved others, how acquired a name still venerated by posterity?
There is a saying that the virtuous do not become intoxicated. Seeing that the Sages possess the highest virtue, one has
wrongly credited Wên Wang with a thousand bumpers and foolishly
given a hundred gallons to Confucius.
Chou is reported to have been an incorrigible tippler. The
sediments lay about in mounds. He had a lake full of wine, 2 and
filled three thousand persons with liquor like cattle. Carousing he
made night day, and even forgot the date.
Chou may have been addicted to drink, but he sought pleasure.
Had his wine-lake been in the court-yard, then one could not say
that in carousing he made night day. This expression would only
be correct, if he shut himself up in his rooms behind closed windows, using candle-light. If he was sitting in his rooms, he must
have risen and gone to the court-yard each time he wished to
drink, and then returned to his seat, an endless trouble, which
would have deprived him of all enjoyment. Had the wine-lake
been in the inner apartments, then the three thousand people must
have been placed close to the lake. Their amusement would have
consisted in bowing down to drink wine from the lake, and in
rising to taste the dainty dishes, singing and music being in front
1 The shooting-feasts referred to are the competitions of archery, held in
ancient times at the royal court, at the feudal courts, and at the meetings in the
country. A banquet was connected with these festivities. Cf. Legge, The Li Ki
(Sacred Books of the East Vol. XXVII) p. 57.
2 This wine-lake is mentioned in the Shi-chi chap. 3, p.10v.
488 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
of them. If they were really sitting quite close to the lake, their
drinking in front would have interfered with their dining, and the
concert could not have been in front. Provided that at the banquet
they had thus unmannerly sucked wine from the lake like oxen,
they would not have required any cups during the dinner, and
would also have gulped down and devoured the food like tigers.
From this we see that the wine-lake and the drinking like cattle
are mere stories.
There is another tradition that Chou had made a forest by
hanging up meat, and that he caused' naked males and females to
chase each other in this forest,1 which would be drunken folly,
and unrestrained debauchery. Meat is to be put into the mouth.
What the mouth eats, must be clean, not soiled. Now, if, as they
say, naked males and females chased each other among the meat,
how could it remain clean? If they were drunk, and did not care,
whether it was clean or not, they must have bathed together in
wine, and then run naked one after the other among the meat.
Why should they not have done this? Since nothing is said about
their bathing in wine, we may be sure that neither did they chase
each other naked among the meat.
There is another version to the effect that wine was being
carried about in carts and roast-meat on horseback, and that one
hundred and twenty days were reckoned one night. However, if
the account about the wine-lake is correct, it cannot be true that
the wine was transported in carts, and if the meat was suspended
so, as to form a forest, the statement that roast-meat was carried
about on horseback must be wrong.
It may have happened that, when Chou was flushed with drink,
he overturned the wine, which spread over the floor, whence the
story of the wine-lake. When the wine was distilled, the sediments
were heaped up, therefore the tale that the sediments lay in mounds.
Meat was hung up in trees, thence the report that a forest was
made of meat. The shade and darkness of this forest may sometimes
have been visited by people with the intention of doing things
shunning the light of day, which led to the belief that they chased
each other naked. Perhaps wine was transported once on a deer-car-
riage,2 which would account for the story that wine was being
1 Quoted from the Shi-chi chap. .S, p. 11.
2 A royal carriage ornamented with deers.
carried about in carts, and roast-meat on horseback. The revelry-
may have extended once over ten nights, hence the hundred and
twenty days. Perhaps Chou was intoxicated and out of his mind,
when he inquired, what day it was. Then people said that he
had forgotten dates altogether.
When Chou Kung 1 invested K'ang Shu 2 he spoke to him about
Chou's wine drinking, 3 wishing that he should know all about it, and
take a warning, but he did not mention the mounds of sediments,
or the wine-lake, or the forest made of meat, or the revelries
lasting far into the morning, or the forgetting of dates. What the
Sages do not mention, is most likely unfounded.
As an instance of Chou's perversity it is recorded that he
sucked wine from the wine-lake like an ox, together with three
thousand people. The Hsia dynasty had a hundred (metropolitan)
officials, the Yin two hundred, the Chou three hundred. The companions of Chou's Bacchanals were assuredly not common people,
but officials, and not minor officials, but high ones. Their number
never could reach three thousand. The authors of this report
wished to disparage Chou, therefore they said three thousand,
which is a gross exaggeration.
There is a report that the Duke of Chou 4 was so condescending that with presents he called on simple scholars, living in poor
houses, and inquired after their health. As one of the three chief
ministers, a prop to the imperial tripod, 5 he was the mainstay of
the emperor. Those scholars were persons of no consequence in
their hamlets. That a prime minister should have flung away his
dignity as supporter of the dynasty in order to do homage to common scholars, cannot be true. May be, that he treated scholars
with courtesy and condescension, and was not haughty towards
1 Tan, Duke of Chou, a younger brother of Wu Wang.
2 K'ang Shu was the first prince of the Wei State (Honan), which he governed
until 1077 B.C.
3 Cf. Shaking Part V, Book X, 11 (Legge, he. cit. p. 408).
4 Chou Kung.
5 The sacrificial tripod is the emblem of royalty. The tlifee chief ministers
are likened to its three feet.
490 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
poor people, hence the report that he waited upon them. He may
have raised a scholar of humble origin, and received him with his
badge in hand. People then said that he came with presents and
waited upon his family.
We have a tradition that Yao and Shun were so thrifty, that
they had their thatched roofs untrimmed, and their painted rafters
unhewn. Thatched roofs and painted rafters there may have been,
but that they were untrimmed or unhewn, is an exaggeration. The
Classic says, "I 1 assisted in completing the Five Robes." 2 Five
Robes means the five-coloured robes. If they put on five-coloured
robes, and at the same time had thatched roofs and painted rafters,
there would have been a great discrepancy between the palace
buildings and the dresses. On the five-coloured robes were painted
the sun, the moon and the stars. Consequently thatched roofs and
painted rafters are out of the question.
It is on record that Ch'in Shih Huang Ti burned the Books
of Poetry and History, 3 and buried the Literati alive. This means
that by burning the Books of Poetry and History he eradicated
the Five Classics and other literary works. The Literati thus
thrown into pits were those, they say, who had concealed the
Classics and other works. When the books were burned, and the
men thrown into pits, Poetry and History were extinguished. The
burning of the Books of Poetry and History and the assassination
of the Literati are indisputable. But the allegation that, for the
purpose of destroying those books, the men were put to death, is
not correct, and an exaggeration.
In the 34th year of his reign 4 Ch'in Shih Huang Ti gave a
banquet on the terrace of Hsien-yang. 5 Seventy Literati came to
wish him long life. The Pu-yeh, 6 Chou Ching Ch'ên, delivered a
1 The Emperor Yü.
2 Quotation from the Shuking, Yi Chi Pt. II, Bk. IV, 8 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. I,
p. 85). Modern commentators and Legge explain 五服 as " five land tenures,"
Wang Ch'ung as the Five State Robes worn by the Emperor and the officials, which
are mentioned a few paragraphs before our passage (Legge, loc. cit. p. 80).
3 The Shiking and the Shuking.
4 213 K.c.
5 Near Hsi-an-fu in Shensi.
6 An official title.
speech, enlogising the emperor's excellence, whereupon Shun Yü Yüeh
of Ch'i stepped forward, and reproached Ch'in Shih Huang Ti for
not having invested his kinsmen and meritorious officials, to use
them as his assistants. 1 He accused Chou Ching Ch'ên of open
flattery. Ch'in Shih Huang Ti directed the premier Li Sse to report
on the matter. Li Sse blamed Shun Yü Yüeh, saying that the scholars
did not care to learn the exigencies of modern times, but were
studying antiquity with a view to condemn everything new, and
to excite the masses. Li Sse proposed that the Historiographers
be authorized to burn all the books except the Annals of Ch'in,
and also to make an exception in favour of the officials in
charge of the Imperial College. All the books on poetry, history,
philosophy, 2 and jurisprudence, which people had dared to conceal,
were to be brought to the governors and burned together. Those
who perchance should dare to discourse on poetry and history,
would be executed and publicly exposed. Should anybody hold
up antiquity and decry the present time, he was to be destroyed
together with his clan. Officials who saw or knew of such cases
without interfering, were to suffer the same penalty. Ch'in Shih
Huang Ti approved of it.
The next year, which was the 35th of the emperor's reign,
the scholars in Hsien-yang spread all kinds of false rumours. Ch'in
Shih Huang Ti had them tried by the censors. Those who gave
information about their accomplices, and denounced others, got free
themselves. 467 delinquents were all thrown into pits.3
The burning of the Books of Poetry and History was the
consequence of Shun Yü Yüeh's recriminations. The deaths of the
literati were due to the rumours divulged by the scholars. Seeing
467 men perish in pits the chronicler went a step farther, stating
that the literati were murdered for the purpose of doing away with
poetry and history, and even saying that they were all thrown
into pits. That is no true report but also a highly coloured one.
1 The abolition of feudalism was much disliked by the Literati.
2 The text says, the " discussions of the hundred authors," which means the
writers on philosophy and science.
3 Various translations of this last passage have been proposed. Cf. Chavannes,
Mém. Hist. Vol. II. p. 181 Note 2.
The foregoing narration is abridged from Shi-chi chap. 6, p. 21v et seq. Our
text speaks of 467 scholars, whereas the Shi-chi mentions but 460 odd, and it uses
the word 坑 "to throw into a pit " instead of the vaguer term 阬 . So perhaps
Wnnff CJfiiriff has not culled from the Shi-chi, but both have used the same older source.
492 Lun-Heng: E. Critique.
There is a tradition to the effect that " field by field were
treated as Ching K'os hamlet." They say that at the instigation
of Prince Tan of Yen,1 Ching K'o made an attempt on the life of
the King of Ch'in.2 The latter afterwards caused the nine relations 3
of Ching K'o to be put to death. But his vindictive wrath was
not yet appeased thereby, and he subsequently had all the inhabitants of Ch'ing K'o's village killed, so that the whole village was
exterminated. Therefore the expression " field by field." This is
Although Ch'in was lawless, the king had no reason to exterminate the entire village of Ching K'o. Ch'in Shih Huang Ti once
visited his palace on the Liang-shan. 4 From its height he perceived
that the carriages and the horsemen of his prime-minister Li Sse
were very gorgeous. This made him angry, and he gave utterance
to his disapproval. The attendants informed Li Sse, who forthwith diminished his carriages and men. Ch'in Shih Huang Ti thus
became aware that his words had leaked out through the servants,
but did not know who the culprit was. Thereupon he had all
the persons near him arrested, and put to death.'' Later on, a
meteor fell down in Tung-chün,6 and when it touched the earth,
became a stone. Some one engraved upon the stone the inscription: — "When Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's dies, the territory will be
divided." When the Emperor heard about it, he ordered the censors to ask the people one by one, but nobody confessed. Then
all persons found near the stone were seized and executed.7
If the Emperor executed his attendants in the Palace on the
Liang Mountain and all the persons near the stone, he destroyed
them all, because he wished to find those who had divulged his
words, or engraved the stone, but could not discover them. But
what had the village of Ching Ko done to Ch'in to be exterminated?
If the King of Ch'in had been stabbed in the village, and the
assailant was unknown, there might have been a wholesale execution.
1 A State in Chili.
2 In 227 B.C. Ching K'o made an unsuccessful attempt on Ch'in Shih Huang
Ti's life, who at that time was still king of Ch'in. It was not before 221 that,
having vanquished all the rival States, he assumed the imperial title.
3 All the ascendants and descendants from the great-great-grandfather to the
4 A mountain in the province of Shensi.
5 Quoted from Shi-chi chap. G, p. 24.
6 A circuit or province comprising the south of Chili.
7 A quotation from Shi-chi chap.6, p. 25v. Cf. p. 231.
But Ching K'o was already dead, the would-be-assassin found,
why then should all the villagers suffer for him?
During the 20th year of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's reign Ching
K'o, the envoy of Yen, attempted to assassinate him, but the King
of Ch'in got wind of it, and caused Ching K'o to be torn to pieces
as a warning. There is no mention of the entire destruction of
his village.1 Perhaps he gave orders to behead the nine relations
of Ching K'o. If these were many, and living together in one
hamlet, this hamlet may have been wiped out by their execution.
People fond of exaggerations then said: — "field by field."
1 The Shi-chi does not mention it.