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Duke Yi of Wei Confers Salaries and Rank on Cranes.

In the time of Duke Yi of Wei there was a minister named Hung Yin, who received the order to go on a mission to another state. Before his return, the Ti barbarians attacked Wei. Duke Yi wished to raise an army to meet them, but his people with one accord said, "What Your Highness values and what have high salaries and rank are cranes. What you love are your concubines. Go have your cranes and concubines fight. How can we fight?" And they all scattered and fled. The Ti barbarians arrived and attacked Duke Yi at Jung-tsê. They killed him and completely ate the flesh of his body, leaving only his liver.

When Hung Yin got there, he reported on his mission to the liver. When he had finished speaking, he cried out to Heaven and wept. When his mourning was over, he said, "As minister all I may properly do is die." And he then actually cut himself open and, pulling out his intestines, put Duke Yi's liver inside and died.

When Duke Huan heard of this he said, "Wei …

Best to leave the State's sharpest weapons where none can see them.

Of old the Ssŭ-ch’êng Tzŭ-han was minister to the ruler of Sung. He said to the Prince of Sung, "Now the peace of a state and the governance of its people depend on the conduct of the ruler. Titles and rewards are what people like. May Your Highness take charge of them. Executions and punishments are what the people hate. Let me be responsible for them."
The Prince said, "Agreed. I will get their approval and you will receive their hatred. I am convinced that I will not be the laughing-stock of the feudal lords."
When the people of the state knew that the punishments of death and decapitation were entirely in the hands of Tzŭ-han, the great ministers were friendly with him and the common people feared him. Before the year was out, Tzŭ-han had driven out the Prince of Sung and taken over the government himself. Just as Lao-tzŭ says,
It is best to leave the fish down in his pool;
Best to leave the State's sharpest weapons where none can see them.
The Ode says,
But w…

Officers that are ‘altar rats' and functionaries that are ‘bad dogs'

Tradition has it that Duke Ching of Ch’i asked Yen-tzŭ about the worries of governing a state. Yen-tzŭ replied, "What one worries about are ‘altar rats.' "

Duke Ching said, "What do you mean by altar rats?"

Yen-tzŭ said, "Altar rats steal things outside and then go inside the altar for protection. You would drown them out, but you fear damaging the mud wall. You would burn them out, but you fear setting the wood on fire. This is the worry of rats. Now as to Your Highness' officers, outside they sell you for profit, and inside they depend on Your Highness not to punish them for throwing the laws into disorder. Your Highness moreover both protects and supports them. This is the worry of altar rats."
Duke Ching said, "Alas! How can this be?"

"A man sold wine of very fine quality, and put out a long advertisement, but the wine soured before he had sold any. He asked the villagers why they had not bought his wine, and one of them said, ‘…

A thousand sheepskins are not worth the fur under one fox's forelegs

Chao Chien-tzŭ had a minister named Chou Shê, who stood outside his gate for three days and three nights. Chien-tzŭ sent a messenger to ask, "On what business do you wish an interview?"

Chou Shê replied, "I would like to be your outspoken minister. With inked brush and tablet in hand I would follow after Your Highness, looking out for your faults and writing them down, so that each day there will be a record, each month an achievement, and each year good results."

Where Chien-tzŭ stayed, Chou Shê stayed there with him, and when Chien-tzŭ went out, he went out with him. After a little while Chou Shê died, and Chien-tzŭ mourned for him as if he had been his own son. Later he was drinking with the Great Officers in the Hung-po Terrace. When he was drunk on the wine, Chien-tzŭ began to weep, and the Great Officers all went out saying, "We are at fault without knowing ourselves wherein we have offended."

Chien-tzŭ said, "You Great Officers are not at faul…

Confucius and his disciples were in distress between Ch’ên and Ts’ai.

Confucius and his disciples were in distress between Ch’ên and Ts’ai. They spent seven days without food sitting on the "Three Classics mat." They had li soup but no rice, and the disciples had a hungry look. They read the Shu and practiced rites (li) and music without stopping. Tzŭ-lu offered an objection: "Heaven rewards with good fortune those who practice good and requites with disaster those who practice evil. Now you, Master, have long accumulated virtue, piled up jên, and practiced good. I suppose there is still some defect in your conduct? Otherwise why do you live in obscurity?"

Confucius said, "Come, Yu. You are a mean man, without any understanding of principles. Be still while I tell you. Do you think that the wise are never punished? Then how was it the Prince Pi-kan had his heart cut out and died? Do you think the just are always hearkened to? Then how was it Wu Tzŭ-hsü had his eyes torn out and hung from the eastern gate of the capital of Wu? Do…