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Showing posts from July, 2010

Physiognomy

Zǐ Qí had eight sons. Having arranged them before him, he called Jǐu Fàng Yīn, and said to him, 'Look at the physiognomy of my sons for me;--which will be the fortunate one?'

Yīn said, 'Kǔn is the fortunate one.' Zǐ Qí looked startled, and joyfully said, 'In what way?'

Yīn replied, 'Kǔn will share the meals of the ruler of a state to the end of his life.'

Not long after this, Zǐ Qí sent off Kǔn to go to Yàn, when he was made prisoner by some robbers on the way. It would have been difficult to sell him if he were whole and entire, and they thought their easiest plan was to cut off (one of his) feet first. They did so, and sold him in Qǐ, where he became Inspector of roads for a Mr. Qǔ. Nevertheless he had flesh to eat till he died.

The Wars on Snail's Horns

King Yíng of Wèi made a treaty with the marquis Tián Móu of Qí, which the latter violated. The king was enraged, and intended to send a man to assassinate him.

When the Minister of War heard of it, he was ashamed, and said to the king, 'You are a ruler of 10,000 chariots, and by means of a common man would avenge yourself on your enemy. I beg you to give me, Yán, the command of 200,000 soldiers to attack him for you. I will take captive his people and officers, halter and lead off his oxen and horses, kindling a fire within him that shall burn to his backbone. I will then storm his capital; and when he shall run away in terror, I will flog his back and break his spine.'

Jì Zǐ heard of this advice, and was ashamed of it, and said to the king, 'We have been raising the wall of our capital to a height of eighty cubits, and the work has been completed. If we now get it thrown down, it will be a painful toil to the convict builders. It is now seven years since our troops were c…

A goby in the carriage rut

The family of Zhuāng Zhōu being poor, he went to ask the loan of some rice from the Marquis Superintendent of the Hé (the Yellow River), who said, 'Yes, I shall be getting the tax-money from the people soon, and I will then lend you three hundred ounces of silver;--will that do?'

Zhuāng Zhōu flushed with anger, and said, 'On the road yesterday, as I was coming here, I heard some one calling out. On looking round, I saw a goby in the carriage rut, and said to it, "Goby fish, what has brought you here?"

The goby said, "I am Minister of Waves in the Eastern Sea. Have you, Sir, a gallon or a pint of water to keep me alive?"

I replied, "Yes, I am going south to see the kings of Wú and Yuè, and I will then lead a stream from the Western Jiāng (the Yangtze River) to meet you;--will that do?"

The goby flushed with anger, and said, "I have lost my proper element, and I can here do nothing for myself; but if I could get a gallon or a pint of wa…

As devoted as Wei Sheng

Wei Sheng was a young man who had an assignation with a young lady beneath a bridge. At the time appointed she did not come, but the tide did; and Wei Sheng, rather than quit his post, clung to a pillar and was drowned.

The lower the service, the more are the carriages given.

There was a man of Sòng, called Cáo Shāng, who was sent by the king of Sòng on a mission to Qín.

On setting out, he had several carriages with him; and the king of Qín was so pleased with him that he gave him another hundred.

When he returned to Sòng, he saw Zhuāng Zǐ, and said to him, 'To live in a narrow lane of a poor mean hamlet, wearing sandals amid distress of poverty, with a weazen neck and yellow face;--that is what I should find it difficult to do. But as soon as I come to an understanding with the Lord of a myriad carriages, to find myself with a retinue of a hundred carriages,--that is wherein I excel.'

Zhuāng Zǐ replied, 'When the king of Qín is ill, the doctor whom he calls to open an ulcer or squeeze a boil receives a carriage; and he who licks his piles receives five. The lower the service, the more are the carriages given. Did you, Sir, lick his piles? How else should you have got so many carriages? Begone!'