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Chi-sun-tzŭ had people put to death on a large scale

In his administration of Lu, Chi-sun-tzŭ had people put to death on a large scale, as their crimes strictly merited, and frequently inflicted punishments on people, as their faults strictly deserved. Tzŭ-kung said, "A cruel government!"

When he heard of this remark, Chi-sun said, "I put the people to death when their crimes strictly merit it, and I punish them when their faults strictly deserve it. How is it that you, sir, find it cruel?"
Tzŭ-kung said, "How unlike Tzŭ-ch’an's administration of Chêng! In one year the number of faults requiring punishment diminished; in two years crimes requiring capital punishment disappeared. In three years the prisons had no prisoners. As a result the people turned to him as water flows downhill, and loved him as a filial son respects his father and mother. When Tzŭ-ch’an was sick and on the point of death, the citizens all lamented, saying, ‘Is there not someone else who could die in the place of Tzŭ-ch’an?' When he finally did die, the nobles and great officers wept for him in the court, the merchants wept for him in the market, and the farmers wept for him in the fields. For all of them weeping for Tzŭ-ch’an was like mourning for father and mother. Now I heard that when you were sick, our citizens were happy, and when you recovered they all were frightened. When they take your death as reason for congratulation and your living as reason for fear, if this is not the fruit of cruelty, what is it? I have heard that to govern by relying on laws is called cruel; that to insist on a definite period for the completion of a task without having given warning is called tyranny; that to punish people without having instructed them is called oppression; that to impose oneself on others is called exaction. He who makes exactions will lose his life; the oppressor will lose his subjects; the tyrant will lose the government; the cruel ruler will lose the people. Furthermore I have heard that there has never been one who occupied the highest place and practiced these four who did not perish."
Whereupon Chi-sun bowed his head gratefully and said, "I listen with respect to your command." The Ode says,

Blandly he looks and smiles;
Without any impatience he delivers his instruction.



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