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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 fault. My friend Chou Shê used to say, ‘A thousand sheepskins are not worth the fur under one fox's forelegs, and the servile assent of the multitude is not worth the outspoken works of one gentleman.' Of old Chou of the Shang was lost through silence, while King Wu prospered through frankness on the part of their ministers. Now after Chou Shê's death I never hear of my faults, and it will not be long before I am lost. This is why I wept."



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