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The heron in going a thousand li at a single flight relies on only six quills.

Duke P’ing of Chin was happily drifting along the River and said, "Where am I to get worthy gentlemen to enjoy this with me?"

His boatman Ho Hsü knelt and replied, "It is simply because Your Highness does not care for worthy gentlemen that he has none. Now pearls from river and ocean, and jade from the K’un mountains, come to you without having feet, because of Your Highness' liking for them. If worthy gentlemen, possessed of feet, do not come, it means nothing else than that Your Highness does not care for gentlemen. Do not worry about there being no gentlemen."

Duke P’ing said, "As for the guests I support, to the left of the gate there are a thousand men, and to the right of the gate another thousand. If in the morning there is not enough for their support, in the evening I give them the market revenues; if in the evening there is not enough for their support, in the morning I give them the market revenues. Can it be said of me that I do not care for gentlemen?"
Ho Hsü replied, "Now the heron in going a thousand li at a single flight relies on only six quills. As for the feathers on his back and the down under his belly, should you add a handful he would not fly any higher, and should you take away a handful he would not fly any lower. Now these two thousand men Your Highness is supporting to the right and to the left of his gate— are there really six quills among them? Or are they all feathers on the back and down under the belly?"

The Ode says,

The counsellors are very many,
But on that account nothing is accomplished.

晋平公游于河而乐,曰:“安得贤士,与之乐此也!”船人盍胥跪而对曰:“主君亦不好士耳!夫珠出于江海,玉出于昆山,无足而至者,犹主君之好也。士有足而不至者,盖主君无好士之意耳,无患乎无士也。”平公曰:“吾食客门左千人,门右千人;朝食不足,夕收市赋;暮食不足,朝收市赋。吾可谓不好士乎?”盍胥对曰:“夫鸿鹄一举千里,所恃者、六翮尔;背上之毛,腹下之毳,益一把,飞不为加高,损一把,飞不为加下。今君之食客,门左门右各千人,亦有六翮其中矣,将皆背上之毛,腹下之毳耶!”《诗》曰:“谋夫孔多,是用不集。”

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