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Zhao Dun murdered his ruler

Duke Ling of Jin conducted himself in a way unbecoming a ruler. He levied heavy exactions, to supply him with means for the carving of his walls, and shot at people from the top of a tower to see how they tried to avoid his pellets. Because his cook had not done some bears' paws thoroughly, he put him to death, and made some of his women carry his body past the court in a basket. Zhao Dun and Shi Hui saw the man's hands, appearing through the basket, and asked about the matter, which caused them grief. Zhao Dun was about to go and remonstrate with the duke, when Shi Hui said to him, "If you remonstrate and are not attended to, no one can come after you. Let me go first; and if my remonstrance does not prevail, you can come after." Accordingly, Hui entered the palace, and advanced, through the first three divisions of it, to the open court before the hall, before he was seen by the duke, who then said, "I know my errors, and will change them." Hui bowed his head to the ground, and replied, "Who is without errors? But there can be no greater excellence than for a man to reform and put them away. There are the words of the ode:

'All have their [good] beginnings,
But few are able to carry them out to the end.'

From them we see that few are able to mend their errors. If your lordship can carry out your purpose to the end, the stability of the altars will be made sure, and not your ministers only will have reliance on you. Another ode says:

'The defects in the king's duties
Only Zhong Shanfu can repair.'

showing how that minister could mend the errors of the king. If your lordship can repair your faults, your robe will never cease to be worn."

Notwithstanding this interview, the marquis made no change in his conduct, and Zhao Dun made repeated remonstrances, till the marquis was so vexed that he employed Ch'u Ni to kill him. This Ni went to Xuan's house very early in the morning, but the door of the bedchamber was open, and there was the minister in all his robes ready to go to court. It being too early to set out, he was sitting in a sort of half sleep. Ni retired, and said, with a sigh, "Thus mindful of the reverence due to his prince, he is indeed the people's lord. To murder the people's lord would be disloyalty, and to cast away from me the marquis's command will be unfaithfulness. With this alternative before me, I had better die;" and with these words he dashed his head against a cassia tree, and died.

In autumn, in the 9th month, the marquis called Zhao Dun to drink with him, having first concealed soldiers who should attack him. Dun's retainer, who occupied the place on the right in his chariot, Timi Ming, got to know the design, and rushed up to the hall, saying, "It is contrary to rule for a minister in waiting on his ruler at a feast to go beyond three cups." He then supported his master down the steps. The marquis urged on an immense dog which he had after them, but Ming smote the brute and killed him. "He leaves men, and uses dogs!" said Dun. "Fierce as the creature was, what could it do?" In the meantime, the soldiers who were concealed made their appearance, but Dun fought his way out, Timi Ming dying for him.

Before this, once when Zhao Dun was hunting on mount Shou, he rested under a shady mulberry tree, and noticed one, Ling Zhe, lying near in a famishing condition. Dun asked what was the matter with him, and he said that he had not eaten for three days. When food was given him, however, he set the half of it apart; and when asked why he did so, he said, "I have been learning abroad for three years, and do not know whether my mother is alive or not. Here I am not far from home, and beg to be allowed to leave this for her." Zhao Dun made him eat the whole, and had a measure of rice and meat put up for him in a bag, which was given to him. This man was now present among the duke's soldiers, but, turning the head of his spear, he resisted the others, and effected the minister's escape. Dun asked him why he thus came to his help, and he replied, "I am the famishing man whom you saw at the shady mulberry tree;" but when further asked his name and village, he made no answer, but withdrew, disappearing afterwards entirely.

Later, Zhao Chuan attacked and killed duke Ling in the peach garden, and Zhao Dun, who was flying from the State, but had not yet left its hills behind him, returned to the capital. The grand historiographer Dong Hun wrote this entry,—"Zhao Dun murdered his ruler," and showed it in the court.

Dun said to him, "It was not so;" but he replied, "You are the highest minister. Flying from the State, you did not cross its borders; since you returned, you have not punished the villain. If it was not you who murdered the marquis, who was it?" Xuan said, "Ah! the words, 'The object of my anxiety Has brought on me this sorrow,' are applicable to me."

Confucius said "Dong Hu was a good historiographer of old time:—his rule for writing was not to conceal. Zhao Dun was a good great officer of old time:—in accordance with that law he accepted the charge of such wickedness. Alas! if he had crossed the border, he would have escaped it." (赵盾弑君)


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