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Emperor Wu of Han and the Immortal Liquor

Emperor Wu ti of Han dynasty was esteemed one of the greatest Emperor of China, but he had the Weakness to give ear to Impostors, who promised him an Elixir which should render him immortal.

One Day one of these Chemists brought him a Cup full of this immortal Liquor, and desired him to drink it for an Experiment ; one of his Ministers, who was advising him not to hearken to such Cheats, took the Cup and drank it himself ; the Emperor being very angry that his Minister had deprived him of Immortality, revolved to punish him with Death for it ; to which the Minister replyed with a Smile :--

If this Drinks, Sir, has made me immortal, how can you put me to Death? But if you can put me to Death, how doth this frivolous theft deserve it?

This Answer soften'd the Emperor, who praised the Wisdom of his Minister, but was not thoroughly cured of that Weakness. (Du Halde)

Another similar version of the story:

The Elixir of Death


The King and Beacon Fire

A bored shepherd boy  entertained himself by tricking nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock of sheep. When they came to his rescue, they found that the alarms were false and that they had wasted their time. When the boy was actually confronted by a wolf, the villagers did not believe his cries for help and the wolf ate the flock, and in some versions the boy. (The Chinese Equivalent for "Never Cry Wolf")


Similarly, in Ancient China, a king tried to entertain his melancholy queen by lighting  beacon fire to trick his soldiers. Below is another version of this story by Du Halde:

This prince [Yeou vang] had none of the good qualities which were admired in his father, but had very great faults, which made him contemptible to his people.

He was desperately in love with a concubine called pao ssee, for whose sake he put away the empress and her son, who was the lawful heir to the crown, in order to put in his place the son which he had by his concubine . The …

Tyrant King Li of Zhou Dynasty

Li vang, the Tenth Emperor, reigned 51 Years.

This tyrant king of Zhou was proud, self conceited, prodigal and cruel ; the wealth of his subjects, which he drew from them through exaction, could scarcely satisfy his passion for riches, which he spent lavishly and without judgment : The misery of his subjects was extreme, and nothing was heard but complaints and murmurs. These clamours and repinings of an oppressed People only increased his fury, and he punished, with the utmost severity, those whom he suspected to be at the head of the malecontents.

As he was conscious how odious he had made himself to his subjects, he suspected that all their discourse was on his ill conduct, and therefore he forbid them, on pain of death to converse together, or even whisper to one another, so that you might see all the inhabitants walking the streets with eyes cast down, in mournful silence, and shunning each other.

Tchao kong, one of his most faithful ministers, frequently advised him to desist fr…

THE SOUTH POINTING CARRIAGE.

The compass, with its needle always pointing to the North, is quite a common thing, and no one thinks that it is remarkable now, though when it was first invented it must have been a wonder.

Now long ago in China, there was a still more wonderful invention called the Zhinanche (指南车). This was a kind of chariot with the figure of a man on it always pointing to the South. No matter how the chariot was placed the figure always wheeled about and pointed to the South.

This curious instrument was invented by the Yellow Emperor Huangdi, one of the three Chinese Emperors of the Mythological age. The Yellow Emperor was the son of Shaodian (少典). Before he was born his mother had a vision which foretold that her son would be a great man.

One summer evening she went out to walk in the meadows to seek the cool breezes which blow at the end of the day and to gaze with pleasure at the star-lit heavens above her. As she looked at the North Star, strange to relate, it shot forth vivid flashes of light…

Xu Fu set sail on a quest for the herb Immortality

Xu Fu was the Wise Man of China. Many books he read, and he never forgot what was in them. All the characters he knew as he knew the lines in the palm of his hand. He learned secrets from birds and beasts, and herbs and flowers and trees, and rocks and metals. He knew magic and poetry and philosophy. He grew full of years and wisdom. All the people honoured him; but he was not happy. Because the First Emperor of Qin dynasty (Qin Shihuang) was a tyrant who ruled all over China, and he made the Wise Man’s life a burden.

“Xu Fu,” he said, “teach the nightingales of my wood to sing me the songs of the our great poets.”

Xu Fu could not do it for all his wisdom.

“Alas, liege,” he said, “ask me another thing and I will give it you, though it cost me the blood of my heart.”

“Have a care,” said the Emperor, “look to your ways. Wise men are cheap in China; am I the one to be dishonoured?”

“Ask me another thing,” said the Wise Man.

“Well, then, scent me the peony with the scent of the jasmine. …

Wu Ding Discovered his Prime Minister in his dream

VOU TING (or Wu Ding) was yet young when he ascended the Throne in 1317 BC. He entrusted the Government of Empire with his Prime Minister, during his three Years Mourning, and shut himself up in a House near his Fathers Tomb, in order to lament his Death, and to beg of Heaven to grant him the proper Virtues to qualify him for the high Station to which it had appointed him.

The Time of his Mourning being expired, he returned to his Palace, and saw, in a Dream, a Man presented him by Heaven to be his Prime Minister ; he beheld him with Attention, and the Features of his Face were so strongly imprinted on his Fancy that he drew an exact Portrait of him When he awoke.

Upon this he assembled his Ministers, and having related to them his Dream, and Shewed the Picture to them, he sent several of them to seek for the Person whose Picture they had seen.

They found him in a Village, called Fou Ya, in company with a great many other Artificers ; his Name was Fou Yue, a Mason by Trade. The King&…