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The Incorrupt Official.

MR. WU, Sub-prefect of Chinan, was an upright man, and would have no share in the bribery and corruption which was extensively carried on, and at which the higher authorities connived, and in the proceeds of which they actually shared. The Prefect tried to bully him into adopting a similar plan, and went so far as to abuse him in violent language; upon which Mr. Wu fired up and exclaimed, “Though I am but a subordinate official, you should impeach me for anything you have against me in the regular way; you have not the right to abuse me thus. Die I may, but I will never consent to degrade my office and turn aside the course of justice for the sake of filthy lucre.” At this outbreak the Prefect changed his tone, and tried to soothe him.... [How dare people accuse the age of being corrupt, when it is themselves who will not walk in the straight path.] One day after this a certain fox medium came to the Prefect’s yamên just as a feast was in full swing, and was thus addressed by a guest:—“You who pretend to know everything, say how many officials there are in this Prefecture.” “One,” replied the medium; at which the company laughed heartily, until the medium continued, “There are really seventy-two holders of office, but Mr. Sub-prefect Wu is the only one who can justly be called an official.”

一員官

濟南同知吳公,剛正不阿。時有陋規,凡貪墨者,虧空犯贓罪,上官輒庇之,以贓分攤屬僚,無敢梗者。以命公,不受;強之不得,怒加叱罵。公亦惡聲還報之,曰:「某官雖微?亦受君命。可以參處,不可以罵詈也!要死便死,不能損朝廷之祿,代人償枉法贓耳!」上官乃改顏溫慰之。人皆言斯世不可以行直道;人自無直道耳,何反咎斯世之不可行哉!會高苑有穆情懷者,狐附之,輒慷慨與人談論,音響在座上,但不見其人。適至郡,賓客談次,或詰之曰:「仙固無不知,請問郡中官共幾員?」應聲答曰:「一員。」共笑之。復詰其故,曰:「通郡官僚雖七十有二,其實可稱為官者,吳同知一人而已。」是時泰安知州張公,人以其木強,號之「橛子」。凡貴官大僚登岱者,夫馬兜輿之類,需索煩多,州民苦於供億。公一切罷之。或索羊豕,公曰:「我即一羊也,一豕也,請殺之以犒騶從。」大僚亦無奈之。公自遠宦,別妻子者十二年。初蒞泰安,夫人及公子自都中來省之,相見甚歡。逾六七日,夫人從容曰:「君塵甑猶昔,何老誖不念子孫耶?」公怒,大罵,呼杖,逼夫人伏受。公子覆母號泣,求代。公橫施撻楚,乃已。夫人即偕公子命駕歸,矢曰:「渠即死於是,吾亦不復來矣!」逾年,公卒。此不可謂非今之強項令也。然以久離之琴瑟,何至以一言而躁怒至此,豈人情哉!而威福能行於床笫,事更奇於鬼神矣。

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