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Yen Yüan was sitting by Duke Ting of Lu

Yen Yüan was sitting by Duke Ting of Lu on a raised platform, when Tung-yeh Pi drove his horse and chariot past.

Duke Ting said, "How well Tung-yeh Pi drives!"

Yen Yüan said, "He is all right, but his horses are going to run away."

Duke Ting was not pleased and said to his retainers, "I had heard that a superior man does not slander people; does he then really engage in slander?"

Yen Yüan withdrew.

Suddenly a man from the Imperial Stables came and announced that Tung-yeh Pi's horses had run away. Duke Ting withdrew from the mat and got up, saying, "Quickly send a chariot to call back Yen Yüan."

When Yen Yüan arrived, Duke Ting said, "A little while ago I said, ‘How well Tung-yeh Pi drives,' and you said, ‘He is all right, but his horses are going to run away.' How did you know it?"
Yen Yüan said, "From principles of government I knew it. In olden times Shun was expert in handling people and Tsao-fu was expert in handling horses. Shun did not wear out his people and Tsao-fu did not drive his horses to the limit. Hence, under Shun the people did not break down, and under Tsao-fu, horses did not run away. Now as to Tung-yeh Pi's driving, in mounting the chariot and holding the bridle, his style of managing was correct. In his evolutions and rushes, he was in complete accord with court ceremony (li). But from going through danger and traveling far he had exhausted the horses' strength; yet still he beat them without cease. Therefore I knew they would run away."

Duke Ting said, "Good. Can you drive the point a little further?"

Yen Yüan said, "If an animal is pushed to extremity, he will bite; in the same circumstances a bird will peck, and a man will practice treachery. Since antiquity to the present day it has never happened that reducing the people to extremity has not been dangerous. The Ode says,

The reins are in his grasp like ribbons,
While the two outside horses move like dancers.

Good driving is illustrative of this."

Duke Ting said, "I was at fault."



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