University of Toronto Discourses on Salt and Iron Discussion Questions


reading article and answer three questions, you can choose three on the list.below is instruction from schoolWe will have an online debate this week on the Discourses on Salt and Iron. Based on a close reading of the texts (25 pages attached), you should construct your arguments in defence or critique of either the Literati or the Lord Grand Secretariat. When you write your views, you should develop your arguments by answering at least three specific questions given below (those questions given on the left panel of the text). Everyone is required to post your answers in the form of a brief essay (500 words),. You are more than welcome to make connections to contemporary issues in Canadian, Chinese, and American politics and foreign affairs. Do you see any parallels between Han Chinese discourses on good government and political discourses of our time? Spell them out in your own words! Chapter 11. What are the policies that are at issue?2. Why according to the Lord Grand Secretary were these necessary?3. What according to the Literati is the basis for economic well-being at home and peace abroad?Chapter 21. What according to the Literati is the basis for economic well-being at home and peace abroad?2. What do the literati think the economic goals of government should be?3. What does each side think of trade and merchants?Chapter 31. Why is profit (not) bad?2. Why is circulation (not) bad?Chapter 161. Why are there troops on the border according to the Lord Grand Secretary?2. How should the government approach foreign relations according to the Literati?Chapter 171.Is it right for officials to pursue wealth?Chapter 181. What does the Lord Grand Secretary think of the Literati and why?2. What do the Literati think of officials like the Lord Grand Secretary and why?

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Discourses on
Salt and Iron
State and Society in
Eastern and
Western Han
The Discourses on Salt and Iron is the record of a debate
over the relationship of government to society that was held after
the reign of Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BCE) in response to
complaints about policies initiated during Emperor Wu’s reign.
Those policies had greatly increased the role of government in
order, among other things, to pay the costs of imperial expansion.
Defending the policies was the Lord Grand Secretary; the Literati
speak for the critics. We invite you to take a stand and debate
these matters – but also to understand the rationales of both sides.
To help with that we have included some questions you might
consider when reading each of the chapters we have selected.  
1. What  are  the  
The Basic Argument
policies  that  are  at  
a. It  was  the sixth  year  of  the  shiyuan  era1,  when  an  imperial  
edict  directed  the  Chancellor  and  the  Imperial  secretaries  to  
confer  with  the  recommended  Worthies  and  Literati2,  and  to  
2. Why  according to
enquire  of  them  as  to  the  rankling  grievances  among  the  
the Lord Grand
Secretary were these
b. The  Literati  responded  as  follows:  It  is  our  humble  opinion  
that  the  principle  of  ruling  lies  in  forestalling  wantonness  
while  extending  the  elementals  of  virtue,  in  discouraging  
3. What according to
the Literati is the
basis for economic
well-being at home
and peace abroad?  
mercantile  pursuits  while  inspiring  benevolence  and  
righteousness.  Let  lucre  never  be  paraded  before  the  eyes  of  
the  people;  only  then  will  enlightenment  flourish  and  mores  
c. But   now   with   the   salt,   iron,   and   alcohol   monopolies,   as   well  
as  equalizing  distribution3  established  in  the  commanderies  and  
feudal   states,   the   government   has   entered   into   financial  
competition   with   the   people,   destroying   natural   simplicity  
and   innocence,   while   fostering   selfishness   and   greed.   As   a  
result,   few   among   our   people   take   up   the   foundation   of  
livelihood4,   while   many   flock   to   the   non-­‐‑essential   offshoots5.  
When   embellishment   is   overwrought,   it   weakens   the   core  
substance;   when   the   branches   are   overgrown,   then   the  
foundation   is   eroded.   When   the   non-­‐‑essential   offshoots   are  
cultivated,  the  people  become  frivolous;  when  the  foundation  
 81  BCE  
is  developed,  the  people  are  simple  and  guileless.  The  people  
recommended  to  the  government  in  
being   simple,   wealth   will   abound;   when   the   people   are  
the  previous  year.  
extravagant,   cold   and   hunger   will   follow.   We   pray   that   the  
 Worthies  and  Literati  are  talents  
salt,  iron,  and  alcohol  monopolies  and  the  system  of  equalizing  
equalize  or  balance  prices  by  
distribution   be   abolished   so   that   the   principal   industries   may  
transporting  and  redistributing  
be   encouraged   while   secondary   occupations   thwarted,   and  
 Han  government’s  attempt  to  
commodity  surplus  to  parts  of  the  
empire  where  they  are  scarce.    
 i.e.  agriculture  
d. The   Lord   Grand   Secretary   said:   When   the   Xiongnu   rebelled  
 For  instance,  crafts  or  trading.
agriculture  broadly  benefited.  
against   our   authority   and   frequently   raided   and   devastated  
the frontier   settlements,   to   be   constantly   on   the   watch   for  
them   was   a   great   strain   upon   the   military   of   the   Middle  
Kingdom;   but   without   measures   of   precaution,   these   forays  
and   depredations   would   never   cease.   The   late   Emperor,  
1. What  are  the  
grieving  at  the  long  suffering  of  the  people  at  the  frontier  who  
policies  that  are  at  
live  in  fear  of  capture  by  the  barbarians,  caused  consequently  
forts   and   seried   signal   stations   to   be   built,   where   garrisons  
were   held   ready   against   the   nomads.   When   the   revenue   for  
the   defence   of   the   frontier   fell   short,   salt,   iron,   and   alcohol  
2. Why  according to
monopolies   were   established,   and   the   system   of   equalizing  
distribution  introduced,   for  the  purpose  of  increasing  supply  
the Lord Grand
Secretary were these
and  wealth,  so  as  to  furnish  the  frontier  expenses.  
e. Now   our   critics   here,   who   demand   that   these   measures   be  
abolished,   at   home   would   have   the   hoard   of   the   treasury  
entirely  depleted,  and  abroad  would  expose  our  soldiers  who  
3. What according to
the Literati is the
basis for economic
well-being at home
and peace abroad?  
defend  the  barriers  and  mount  the  walls  to  all  the  hunger  and  
cold   of   the   borderland.   How   else   do   they   expect   to   provide  
for  them?  It  is  not  expedient  to  abolish  these  measures!  
The  Literati:  Confucius  observed  that  “the  ruler  of  a  kingdom  
or   the   head   of   a   house   is   not   concerned   about   his   people  
being   few,   but   about   lack   of   equitable   treatment;   nor   is   he  
concerned   about   poverty,   but   over   the   presence   of  
discontentment.”   Thus   the   Son   of   Heaven   should   not   speak  
about   much   and   little,   the   feudal   lords   should   not   talk   about  
advantage  and  detriment,  ministers  about  gain  and  loss,  but  they  
should   cultivate   benevolence   and   righteousness,   to   set   an  
example   to   the   people,   and   extend   wide   their   virtuous  
conduct  to  gain  the  people’s  confidence.  Then  will  nearby  folk  
lovingly  flock  to  them  and  distant  peoples  joyfully  submit  to  
their   authority.   Therefore   “the   master   conqueror   does   not  
fight;   the   expert   warrior   needs   no   soldiers;   the   truly   great  
commander   requires   not   to   set   his   troops   in   battle   array.”6  
Good  practices  at  temples  and  the  court  will  lead  to  success  at  
the   front   and   victorious   return.   The   king   who   practices  
benevolent   administration   should   be   matchless   in   the   world;  
for  him,  what  use  is  expenditure?  
 A  quotation  from  the  Guliang  
commentary  on  the  Spring  and  
Autumn  Annals.  
g. The   Lord   Grand   Secretary:   The   Xiongnu,   savage   and   wily,  
boldly   push   through   the   barriers   and   harass   the   Middle  
Kingdom,   massacring   the   provincial   population   and   killing  
the keepers   of   the   Northern   Frontier.   They   long   deserve  
punishment   for   their   unruliness   and   lawlessness.   But   His  
Majesty   graciously   took   pity   on   the   insufficiency   of   the  
1. What  are  the  policies  
multitude   and   did   not   suffer   his   lords   and   knights   to   be  
that  are  at  issue?  
exposed  in  the  desert  plains.  If  there  is  hardly  the  intention  of  
confronting   the   Xiongnu   in   the   north   with   armours   and  
2. Why  according to the
spears,  but  only  the  desire  to  do   away   with  the  salt  and  iron  
monopoly  and  equalizing  distribution,  it  would  only  grievously  
Lord Grand Secretary
were these necessary?  
diminish  our  frontier  supplies  and  impair  our  military  plans.  
I   cannot   consider   favorably   a   proposal   so   heartlessly  
dismissing  the  frontier  question.  
3. What according to the
Literati is the basis for
economic well-being
at home and peace
h. The  Literati:  The  ancients  held  in  honor  virtuous  methods  and  
discredited   resort   to   arms.   Thus   Confucius   said:   “If   distant  
People   are   not   submissive,   all   the   influences   of   civil   culture  
and   virtue   are   to   be   cultivated   to   attract   them   to   be   so;   and  
when   they   have   been   so   attracted,   they   must   be   made  
contented   and   tranquil?”7   Now   these   virtuous   principles   are  
discarded  and  reliance  put  on  military  force;  troops  are  raised  
to  attack  the  enemy  and  garrisons  are  stationed  to  make  ready  
for   him.   It   is  the   long   drawn-­‐‑out  service   of  our   troops   in   the  
field   and   the   ceaseless   transportation   for   the   needs   of   the  
commissariat   that   cause   our   frontier   soldiers   to   suffer   from  
hunger   and   cold   abroad,   while   the   common   people   are  
burdened   with   labor   at   home.   The   establishment   of   the   salt  
and   iron   monopoly   and   the   institution   of   finance   officials   to  
supply   the   army   cannot   be   a   sustainable   strategy;   it   is  
therefore  desirable  that  they  now  be  abolished.  
made   open   the   ways   for   both   foundational   and   branch  
industries   and   facilitated   equitable   distribution   of   goods.  
Markets   were   provided   to   meet   various   demands   at   one  
place:  There  people  of  all  classes  and  goods  of  all  kinds  could  
then  be  gathered,  so  that  farmer,  merchant,  and  worker  could  
The   Lord   Grand   Secretary:   The   ancient   founders   of   the   state  
each   obtain   what   he   desired,   make   the   exchange   and   return  
From  the  Analects.  
home.   The   Book   of   Change   says,   “Facilitate   exchange   so   that  
the   people   will   be   unflagging   in   industry.”   Thus   without  
artisans,   the   farmers   will   be   deprived   of   the   use   of  
implements;   without   merchants,   all   prized   commodities   will  
be   cut   off.   The   former   would   lead   to   stoppage   of   grain  
production,   the   latter   to   exhaustion   of   wealth.   It   is   clear   that  
the   salt   and   iron   monopoly   and   equalizing   distribution   are  
1. What  are  the  
really  intended  for  the  circulation  of  amassed  wealth  and  the  
policies  that  are  at  
regulation  of  the  consumption  according  to  the  urgency  of  the  
need.  It  is  inexpedient  to  abolish  them.  
2. Why  according to
The  Literati:  Lead  the  people  with  virtue  and  the  people  will  
return   to   honest   simplicity;   entice   the   people   with   gain,   and  
they   will   become   vicious.   Vicious   habits   would   lead   them  
the Lord Grand
Secretary were these
away  from  righteousness  to  follow  after   gain,   with  the   result  
that   people   will   swarm   on   the   road   and   throng   at   the  
markets.  Laozi  states,   “a   poor  country   may  appear  plentiful,”  
not  because   it   possesses   abundant   wealth,  but   because  when  
3. What according to
the Literati is the
basis for economic
well-being at home
and peace abroad?  
desires   multiply,   the   people   become  reckless.   Hence   the   true  
king   promotes   the   foundation   (agriculture)   and   discourages  
branch  industries;  he  checks  the  people’s  desires  through  the  
principles   of   propriety   and   righteousness,   and   in   this   way  
accumulate  food  and  wealth.  In  his  market,  merchants  do  not  
circulate   useless   goods,   artisans   do   not   make   useless  
implements.   Thus   merchants   should   only   serve   the   purpose  
of   circulating   overstock   commodities,   and   the   artisans   of  
providing   tools;   they   should   not   become   the   principal  
concern  of  the  government.  
k. The   Lord   Grand   Secretary:   Guanzi   is   reported   to   have   said:  
“A   country   may   possess   a   wealth   of   fertile   land   and   yet   its  
people   may   be   underfed   –   the   reason   lying   in   lack   of   an  
adequate   supply   of   agricultural   implements.   It   may   possess  
rich   natural   resources   in   its   mountains   and   seas   and   yet   the  
people   may   be   deficient   in   wealth   the   reason   being   in   the  
insufficient   number   of   artisans   and   merchants.”   The   scarlet  
lacquer   and   pennant   feathers   of   Long   and   Shu,   the   leather  
goods,   bone   and   ivory   of   Jing   and   Yang,   the   cedars,   lindera,  
and  bamboo  rods  of  Jiangnan,  the  fish,  salt,  rugs,  and  furs  of  
Yan   and   Qi,   the   lustrine   yarn,   linen,   and   hemp-­‐‑cloth   of   Yan  
and   Yü,   are   all   necessary   commodities   to   maintain   our   lives  
and   provide   for   our   death.   But   we   depend   upon   the  
merchants  for  their  distribution  and  on  the  artisans  for  giving  
them  their  finished  forms.  This  is  why  the  Sages  availed  them  
of   boats   and   bridges   to   negotiate   and   gulleys,   and  
domesticated  cattle  and  horses  for  travel  over  mountains  and  
plateau.   Thus   by   penetrating   to   distant   lands   and   exploring  
1. What  are  the  
remote   places,   they   were   able   to   exchange   all   goods   to   the  
policies  that  are  at  
benefit   of   the   people.   Hence   His   late   Majesty   established  
officers   in   control   of   iron   to   meet   the   farmer’s   needs   and  
provided  equalizing  distribution  to  make  sufficient  the  people’s  
wealth.   Thus,   the   salt   and   iron   monopoly   and   the   equalizing  
2. Why  according to
the Lord Grand
Secretary were these
3. What according to
the Literati is the
basis for economic
well-being at home
and peace abroad?  
distribution  supported  by  the  myriad  people  and  looked  to  as  
the  source  of  supply,  cannot  conveniently  be  abolished.  
The  Literati:   That   a  country  possesses  a  wealth  of  fertile  land  and  
yet  its  people  are  underfed  is  due  to  the  fact  that  merchants  and  
workers   have   prospered   unduly   while   the   fundamental  
occupations  have  been  neglected.  That  a  country  possesses  rich  
natural  resources   in  its  mountains  and  seas  and   yet  its  people  lack  
capital   is   because   the   people’s   necessities   have   not   been  
attended  to,  while  luxuries  and  fancy  articles  have  multiplied.  
The   fountain-­‐‑head   of   a   river   cannot   fill   a   leaking   cup;  
mountains   and   seas  cannot   over-­‐‑whelm  streams  and  valleys.  
This   is   why   Pan   Geng   practiced   communal   living,   Shun   hid  
away   gold,   and   Gao   Di   forbade   merchants   and   shopkeepers  
to   be   officials.   Their   purpose   was   to   discourage   habits   of  
greed  and  fortify  the  spirit  of  extreme  earnestness.  Now  with  
all   the   discriminations   against   the   market   people,   and  
stoppage  of  the  sources  of  profit,  people  still  do  evil.  What  if  
the   ruling   classes   should   pursue   profit   themselves?   The  
Zhuan  says,  “When  the  princes  take  delight  in  profit,  the  ministers  
become   mean;   when   the   ministers   become   mean,   the   minor   officers  
become   greedy;   when   the   minor   officers   become   greedy,   the   people  
become  thieves.”  Thus  to  open  the  way  for  profit  is  to  provide  a  
ladder  to  popular  misdemeanor.  
m. The   Lord   Grand   Secretary:   Formerly   the   Princes   in   the  
provinces  and  the  demesnes  sent  in  their  respective  products  
disorganized;   the   goods   were   usually   of   distressingly   bad  
quality,  often   failing   to  repay   their  transport   costs.   Therefore  
Transportation  Officers  have  been  provided  in  every  province  
to   assist   in   the delivery   and   transportation   and   for   the  
1. What  are  the  
policies  that  are  at  
2. Why  according to
the Lord Grand
Secretary were these
3. What according to
the Literati is the
basis for economic
well-being at home
and peace abroad?  
speeding  of  the  tribute  from  distant  parts.  So  the  system  came  
to  be  known  as  equalizing  distribution.  A  Receiving  Bureau  has  
been   established   at   the   capital   to   monopolize   all   the  
commodities,   Buying   when   prices   are   low,   and   selling   when  
prices   are   high,   with   the   results   that   the   Government   suffers  
no  loss  and  the  merchants  cannot  speculate  for  profit.  This  is  
therefore   known   as   the   balancing   standard.   With   the   balancing  
standard   people   are   safeguarded   from   unemployment;   with  
the   equalizing   distribution   people   have   evenly   distributed  
labor.   Both   of   these   measures   are   intended   to   equilibrate   all  
goods   and   convenience   the   people,   and   not   to   open   the   way  
to  profit  and  provide  a  ladder  to  popular  misdemeanor.  
n. The   Literati:   The   Ancients   in   levying   upon   and   taxing   the  
people  would  look  for  what  the  latter  were  skilled  in,  and  not  
seek  for  those  things  in  which  they  were  not  adept.  Thus  the  
farmers   contributed   the   fruits   of   their   labor,   the   weaving  
women,   their   products.   Now   the   Government   leaves   alone  
what  the  people  have  and  exacts  what  they  have  not,  with  the  
result   that   the   people   sell   their   products   at   a   cheap   price   to  
satisfy   demands   from   above.   Recently   in   some   of   the  
provinces   and   demesnes   they   ordered   the   people   to   make  
woven  goods.  The  officers  then  caused  the  producers  various  
embarrassments   and   bargained   with   them.   What   was  
collected  by  the  officers  was  not  only  the  silk  from  Ji  and  Tao,  
or   cloth   from   Shu   and   Han,   but   also   other   goods  
manufactured   by   the   people   which   were   mischievously   sold  
at  a  standard   price.   Thus   the   farmers  suffer  twice  over  while  
the  weaving  women   are  doubly   taxed.   We  have  not  yet  seen  
that   your   marketing   is   “equable”.   As   to   the   second   measure  
under  discussion,  the  government  officers  swarm  out  to  close  
the   door,   gain   control   of   the   market   and   corner   all  
commodities.   With   commodities   cornered,   prices   soar;   with  
prices   rising,   the   merchants   make   private   deals   by   way   of  
speculation.   Thus   the   officers   are   lenient   to   the   cunning  
capitalists,  and  the  merchants  store  up  goods  and  accumulate  
commodities   waiting   for   a   time   of   need.   Nimble   traders   and  
unscrupulous   officials   buy   in   cheap   to   get   high   returns.   We  
have   not   yet   seen   that   your   standard   is   “balanced.”   For   it  
seems  that  in  ancient  times  equalizing  distribution  was  to  bring  
1. What  are  the  policies  
about  equitable  division  of  labor  and  facilitate  transportation  
of   tribute;   it   was   surely   not   for   profit   or   to   make   trade   in  
that  are  at  issue?  
2. Why  according to the
Hold Fast The Plough
Lord Grand Secretary
were these necessary?  
3. What according to the
Literati is the basis for
economic well-being at
home and peace
1. What according to
the Literati is the
basis for economic
well-being at home
and peace abroad?  
2. What do the literati
think the economic
goals of government
should be?  
3. What does each side
think of trade and
a. The Lord Grand Secretary: The true King should stopper
Nature’s wealth, restrict and regulate tax-barriers and
markets; in his hand lies the power of adjusting the balance of
trade and in his keeping is the right utilization of the seasons:
for through his control of the ratio of production he can curb
the people. In years of abundance with harvest tall, he stores
and bins to provide for times of scarcity and want; in evil
years of dearth he circulates moneys and goods and tempers
the flow of surplus to meet the deficiency. In ancient days
during the flood of Yü and the drought of Tang, when the
masses of the people, at the end of their resources, were
forced to borrow from one another in order to obtain the
prime necessities of life, food and clothing, Yü coined money
for the people out of the metal of Li Shan, and Tang out of the
copper of Yan Shan, and the world praised their benevolence.
Some time ago, on account of financial difficulties, our
fighting forces occasionally could not get their pay. Recently
due to natural calamities East of the Mountains, Qi and Zhao
suffered from a major famine. It was entirely due to the stores
accumulated through the system of equalizing distribution and
the hoard in public granaries that the troops were provided
for and the distressed people succored. Thus the goods of
equalizing distribution and the capital of the Treasury are not
for the purpose of exploiting the people or solely for military
uses, but also for the relief of the needy and as a recourse
against flood and drought.  
b. The Literati: The rulers of antiquity taxed the people but a
tithe, while they kept open the ponds and weirs according to
season without restrictions, so that all the Black Haired People
spread themselves in the southern fields never neglecting their
occupations. Thus three years’ farming would yield a store of one
year’s surplus; nine years’ farming would yield a store of three
years’ surplus. This is how Yü and Tang prepared against
flood and drought and made the people content. But if the
grass and weeds be not cleared and the field not regularly
cultivated, there would be no sufficiency even though a
monopoly over the wealth of the mountains and seas be
1. What is the goal of
according to the
Lord Grand
2. What do the literati
think the economic
goals of government
should be?  
3. What does each side
think of trade and
effected and a hundred sorts of profit be developed. Hence
the ancients honored manual labor and attended to the
fundamental industry, so that they sowed and planted in
abundance, everyone worked on the land according to
season, and food clothing were always sufficient. People did
not suffer even in the face of several bad years. Agriculture
should be the fundamental occupation of men, clothes and
food being of primary necessity to the people. With both of
these attended to, the country will be rich and the people at
peace. In the words of the Book of Poetry: Those hundred
houses being full, the wives and children have a feeling of repose.  
c. The Lord Grand Security: The worthies and the sages did not
found their families by means of one room, nor did they
enrich the state through one way. Thus Guan Zhong won the
Protectorate through the shrewd use of his power, while the
Fan clan perished because of its strength and size. If one must
resort to agriculture alone to make a living and found a
family, then Shun would not have had to make pottery and Yi
Yin would not have had to be a cook. Hence, the Empire
Builder acts according to the principle: I honor what the whole
world despises and value what the whole world slights. He would
exchange the non-essential for the fundamental and secure
the substantial with his own emptiness. Now the treasures of
the mountains and marshes and the reserves of the equalizing
distribution system are means of holding the balance of
natural wealth and controlling the principalities. Ru Han gold
and other insignificant articles of tribute are means of
inveigling foreign countries and snaring the treasures of the
Qiang and the Hu. Thus, a piece of Chinese plain silk can be
exchanged with the Xiongnu articles worth several pieces of
gold and thereby reduce the resource of our enemy. Mules,
donkeys and camels enter the frontier in unbroken lines;
horses, dapples and bays and prancing mounts, come into our
possession. The furs of sables, marmots, foxes and badgers,
colored rugs and decorated carpets fill the Imperial treasury,
while jade and auspicious stones, corals and crystals, become
national treasures. That is to say, foreign products keep
flowing in, while our wealth is not dissipated. Novelties
flowing in, the government has plenty. National wealth not
being dispersed abroad, the people enjoy abundance. So the
Book of Poetry describes it: Those hundred being full, the wives
and children have a feeling of repose.  
d. The Literati: In ancient times merchants circulated goods
without premeditation, artisans got their price without
cheating. Therefore when the true gentleman farmed, hunted
or fished he was in reality doing but one thing. Trade
promoted dishonesty. Artisans provoke disputes. They lie in
wait for their chance without a scruple. Thus avaricious men
become cheats and honest men avaricious. In the olden time
when Jie filled the palace halls with singing girls in
embroidered clothes, Yi Yin withdrew himself and went to
Bo, while the singing girls finally ruined his state. Now mules
and donkeys are not as useful as cattle and horses. Sable and
marmot furs, wool and felt goods do not add substance to
silk. Beautiful jades and corals come mount Kun. Pearls and
ivory are produced in Gui Lin. These places are more than ten
thousand Li distant from Han. Calculating the labor for
farming and silk raising and the costs in material and capital,
it will be found that one article of foreign import costs a price
one hundred Times its value, and for one handful, ten
thousand weight of grain are paid. As the rulers take delight
in novelties, extravagant clothing is adopted among the
masses. As the rulers treasure the goods from distant lands,
wealth flows outward. Therefore, a true King does not value
useless things, so to set an example of thrift to his subjects;
does not love exotic articles, so to enrich his country. Thus the
principle of administering the people lies only in carefulness
in expenditure, in honoring the primary occupation, and
distribution of land according to the “well tithe”.  
1. What is the goal of
according to the
Lord Grand
2. What do the literati
think the economic
goals of government
should be?  
3. What does each side
think of trade and
e. The Lord Grand Secretary: From the capital, east, west, north
and south, across the mountains and rivers, and throughout
the provinces and the demesnes, you will find that none of
the prosperous, rich and great municipalities has not streets
extending in all directions, where the merchants gather and
all commodities are exposed. Thus, the Sage utilizes nature’s
seasons and the Wise utilizes the wealth of the land. Superior
men acquire through others. The mediocre burden their own
bodies. Thus Chang Jü and Jie Ni never accumulated even a
hundred pieces of gold, and the followers of Zhi and Jiao
never possessed the wealth of I-Tun. But the merchants of
Yuan, Zhou, Qi and Lu spread all over the world. These
merchants doubtless amass fortunes of ten thousands of
pieces of gold by going after profit and utilizing the surplus.
Why then must one encourage simple agriculture in order to
enrich the country, and observe the “well-tithe” to provide
for the people?
1. Why is profit (not)
The Literati: When the great flood threatened Heaven, we had the
achievement of Yü. When the River broke loose, we had the
building of the Xüan Fang. When Zhou of Shang raged in
tyranny, we had the plan at the ford of Meng. When the
world is in disturbance, we have speculative fortunes. In
remote antiquity when perfect order prevailed, the people
were simple and held to the fundamental; peaceful and
happy their wants were few. At that time, few travelers were
seen on the roads and grass grew in the markets. If farmers
do not work hard, there will be nothing to fill the empty
stomach; if weavers do not work hard, there will be nothing
to cover our bodies; and in spite of the needs of a great
congregation of people, there would be no chance for a
potter’s family to exercise their craft. For from ancient times
till now, there has never been reward without contribution or
achievement without effort.
Circulation of Goods
a. The Lord Gran Secretary: Zhuo and Ji of Yan, Han Dan of
Zhao, Wen and Zhi of Wei, Xing Yang of Han, Lin Zi of Qi,
Wan Chen of Chu, Yang Zhai of Zheng, the two Zhou of San
Chuan, in riches surpassing all within the seas, re famous
municipalities of the world. They are so not because there has
been some one who had helped them to cultivate their
country side and their fields, but because they are situated on
the intersecting routes of the five feudal states and sit astride
the network of highways. In other words, where products
abound, the people multiply; when the house is near the
market the family will get rich. Getting rich depends on
‘methods’ and ‘statistical calculation’ not on hard manual
labor; profits depend on ‘circumstances’, not on strenuous
b. The Literati: In Jing Yang, there is the fertile land of Gui Lin to
the south, the facilities of the rivers and the lakes within its
borders, the gold of Ling Yang to the left and the timber
supply of Shu and Han to the right. Forests were cut down in
order to raise grain, and brush was burnt to give room for the
sowing of millet. Through clearing by fire for farming and
water-weeding, arable land was extended and natural
resources were abundant. Thereupon evil habits of idleness
imperceptibly grew up. People wear fine clothes and eat
delicate food. Even in humble cottages and straw-thatched
huts, we hear ballad-singing and playing on stringed
1. Why is profit (not)
instruments; wanton for a day, in want for a month, caroling
in the morning, mourning in the evening. Zhao and Zhong
Shan border the great River; they form the connecting center
of the radiating roads and are situated on the highway of the
world. Merchants throng the ways. Princes meet on the
streets. But the people’s trend is to the non-essential pursuits.
They grow luxurious, disregarding the fundamentals. The
fields are not cultivated, while the men and women vie with
one another in dress. Without a peck of reserve in the house,
the lute thrums in the hall. This is why of the people of Chu
and Zhao most are poor and few rich. On the other hand, the
people in Song, Wei, Han and Liang adhere to the
fundamental and till the soil. Among the common people and
yeomanry every house prospers and every person is satisfied.
Therefore profit comes from care for one’s self, not from
favorable location on the highways. Riches come from thrift
and labor at the right season and not from having supervising
officials throughout the year and in increasing the display in
the ceremonies.
c. The Lord Grand Secretary: According to the theory of the Five
Elements, the East pertains to Wood, but at Tan Chang we
have mountains containing gold and copper. The South
pertains to Fire, but in Jiao Zhi we have rivers as big as the
ocean. The West Pertains to Metal, but in Shu and Long we
find forests of famous timber. The North pertains to Water,
but in You Du we find the land of heaped up sand. This is
how Heaven and Earth compensate scarcity with abundance
and facilitate the circulation of all goods. Now the supply of
bamboo in Wu and Yüe, and the timber in Sui and Tang is
more than can be used while in Cao, Wei, Liang and Song
they are forced to use coffins over again for the dead. The fish
of the regions of the great River and the lakes and the globe
fish of Lai Huang are too many for local consumption, while
in Zou, Lu, Zhou and Han they have only vegetable fare. The
wealth of nature is not deficient, and the treasures of the
mountains and the seas are indeed rich, and yet the people
still remain necessitous and the available wealth is not
adequate. The reason is that surplus and scarcity have not
been adjusted and the wealth of the world has not been
d. The Literati: In olden times, the rafters were not carved, and
the hut-thatch was left untrimmed. People wore plain clothes
and ate from earthenware. They cast metal into mattocks and
shaped clay into containers. Craftsmen did not fashion novel,
clever articles. The world did not value things that could not
be worn or eaten. Each was satisfied with his own dwelling,
enjoyed his own customs, found his own food and
1. Why  is  circulation  
(not)  bad?  
implements satisfactory. Hence, things from distant lands
were not exchanged and the jade of Kun Shan did not arrive.
Nowadays manners have degenerated in a race of
extravagance. Women go to the extreme in finery and the
artisans aim at excessive cleverness. Unadorned raw
materials are carved and strange objects prized. They bore
into the rocks to get gold and silver. They dive into the
watery deeps looking for pearls. Pitfalls are devised to trap
rhinoceri and elephants. Nets are spread for the kingfisher.
Barbarian products are sought out to dazzle the Middle
Kingdom. The goods of Gong and Zuo are transported to the
Eastern Sea at a cost of ten thousand miles. Time and labor
are spent for nothing. This is why the common men and
women, weary and heavy-laden, wear themselves out
without getting enough to clothe and feed themselves. Hence
the true King would prohibit excessive profits, and cut of
unnecessary expenses. When undue gain is prohibited,
people return to the fundamental. When unnecessary
expenses are cut off, people have enough to spend. Hence
people will not suffer from want while alive, nor from
exposure of their corpses when dead.
e. The Lord Grand Secretary: In ancient times, reasonable limits
were set to the style of palaces and houses, chariots and
liveries. Plain rafters and straw thatch were not a part of the
system of the Ancient Emperors. The true gentleman, while
narrowness. When Sun-shu Ao was the prime minister of
Chu and his wife did not wear silk nor his horses feed on
grain, Confucius said: One should not be too thrifty so as to be
hard on one’s inferiors. This is how the poem The Cricket was
written. Guanzi said: If palaces and houses are not decorated,
the timber supply will be over-abundant. If animals and fowls
are not used in the kitchens, there will be no decrease in their
numbers. Without the hankering for profit, the fundamental
occupation will have no outlet. Without the embroidered ceremonial
robes, the seamstresses will have no occupation. Therefore,
artisans, merchants, carpenters and mechanics are all the use
of the state and to provide tools and implements. They have
existed from ancient times and are not a unique feature of the
present age. Xuan Gao fed cattle at Zhou. Wu Gu carried on a
cart-renting business in order to enter Qin. Gong-shu Zi was
an expert in the compass and square and Ou Ye in founding.
Thus the saying goes: The Various craftsmen dwell in their
booths that they may their work effectively. Farmers and
merchants exchange their goods so that both the fundamental
and the accessory pursuits may be benefited. People who live
in the mountains and marshes, or on moors and sterile
uplands, depend on the effective circulation of goods to
satisfy their wants. Thus it would not be only those who have
abundance that have a surplus and only those who have little
that would starve. If everybody stays where he lives and
consumes. His own food, then oranges and pumaloes would
not be sold, Qu Lu salt would not appear, rugs and carpets
would not be marketed and the timber of Wu and Tang
would not be used.
1. Why  is  circulation  
(not)  bad?  
The Literati: Mencius says that if the seasons of husbandry are
not disturbed there will be more grain than can be eaten. If silk
Worms and hemp are raised according to the seasons, cloth and silk
will be more than what is required for wear. If the axes and bills
enter the forest according to season, the timber supply will be more
than the demand. Hunting and fishing according to season, fish and
game will be more than can be eaten. If you do not do all these
things according to the seasons, and on the other hand, you
decorate the palaces and dwelling houses and raise terraces
and arbors higher and higher, and if carpenters and
mechanics carve the large into the small, the round into the
square, so as to represent clouds and mists above and
mountains and forests below, then there will not be enough
timber for use. If the men folk abandon the fundamental in
favor of the non-essential, carving and engraving in imitation
of the forms of animals, exhausting the possibilities of
manipulation of materials, then there will not be enough silk
and cloth for wear. If the cooks boil and slaughter the
immature, fry and roast and mix and blend, exhausting all the
varieties of the Five Flavors, then there will not be enough
fish and meat for food. At present while there is no question
of suffering from fowls and animals not declining in number,
and of the timber supply being more then can be consumed,
the trouble is that we are extravagant without limit; and while
we do not suffer from the lack of rugs, carpets, oranges and
pomelos, the trouble is that we have a no hovels and husks
and chaff.
1. Why are there
troops on the
border according
to the Lord Grand
2. How should the
approach foreign
relations according
to the Literati?  
Territorial Expansion
a. The Lord Grand Secretary: The Prince is all embracing and all
sheltering. There is no place for favoritism in his universal
love for all; he confers no extraordinary bounties on those
near him, nor does he forget to spread broad his favors to
those far away. Now we are all equally his subjects, and all
are equally his ministers. Yet there is still no equality in
security of life, and no even division of labor. Should there
then be not any adjustment? You seem to be merely captious,
when you only take into account the remote, never thinking
of the near. The frontier people on the fringes of the Empire,
living in a land of bitter cold, ever facing the menace of the
powerful barbarians, constantly risk their lives at the first
flash of the beacon fires. Therefore, that the Central Domain is
able to live in peace, while the frontiersmen are fighting a
hundred battles, is all due to the protecting screen of the
border commanderies. Says the Odes in criticism of inequality:
This is all the sovereign’s business, and I alone am made to toil in it.
Therefore the sagacious Emperor in his care of the Four
Corners of the earth, alone exerted himself in raising armies
to drive back the barbarians, north and south. Enemies were
now kept at a distance and calamities were averted. The
surplus of the Middle Kingdom, fertile and rich, was
distributed to meet the need of the frontier regions. As the
frontier regions are strengthened, the Central Domain will
enjoy peace. With a Peaceful country, there will be no
untoward events. What else would you want, and why not
keep silent?
b. The Literati: In ancient times, the Son of Heaven stood at the
center of the world. His domain comprised a perimeter of not
more than a thousand li. People supported their respective
rulers, and the feudal prices protected their respective
territories. Hence the people enjoyed equality and harmony,
and the duties involved in forced labor were not strenuous.
Now we have pushed back the Hu and the Yüe several
thousand li. The routes have been circuitous and lengthy. The
troops are worn out. Hence the people of the frontier are
brought face to face with suicide, and China suffers from
death and ruin. This is why the people clamor and will not be
silent. The principle of administration lies in proceeding from
the center to the periphery, beginning from the near. Only
1. Why are there
troops on the
border according
to the Lord Grand
2. How should the
approach foreign
relations according
to the Literati?  
after those near at hand have attached themselves
submissively to the government, steps may then be taken to
rally the distant. After the people within are contented, then
care will be taken of those afar. Hence when the ministers
proposed to colonize Lun Tai, the Enlightened Monarch did
not give his assent, thinking that his proper calling was to
remedy the immediate problems of the moment. Thus he
issued an edict to the effect that the problem of the present
was to interdict harsh and cruel treatment of the people, to
put a stop to arbitrary levies, and to concentrate upon the
fundamental industry of agriculture. The ministers ought,
therefore, to follow the wish of the Emperor by reducing and
removing the incompetent to help the people in their
extremity. Now that the Empire within is in decline, yet they
show no anxiety, but busily engage themselves rather in the
frontier questions, Is it not probably true that there are vast
areas lying uncultivated, much sowing without harrowing,
and much labor without fruit? Well may the Odes say: Do not
try to cultivate fields too large; the weeds will only grow
c. The Lord Grand Secretary: It was not out of sheer delight in
war that Tang and Wu resorted to arms. Nor was it due to
lust of conquest that King Xüan of Zhou extended his
territory a thousand li. Their purpose was to uproot foreign
foes and internal rebels and thus to tranquilize the people.
For a wise man will not undertake a purposeless expedition
and a sage King will not covet a useless land. The late
Emperor raised armies in the spirit of Tang and Wu and
settled the distress of the Three Frontiers. Then he turned in
one direction to subdue the enemy. As the Xiongnu fled, he
constructed defenses along the rivers and the mountains.
Hence he turned away from the barren wastes of sand, rock
and alkali, ceded the district of Dou-pi, and the territory of
Zao-yang to the Hu tribes. He dispensed with the garrison at
the bend of the Great Wall, occupied the strategic positions on
the Yellow River, and limited himself to guarding the
important points in order to lighten garrison duty and yet
render adequate protection to the people. From this it can be
seen that the Sage Ruler’s aim is not to aggrandize the Empire
through burdening the people.
d. The Literati: The Qin dynasty assuredly went to extremes in
waging wars. Meng Tian certainly extended the boundary to
a great distance. Now, we have far overreached the barrier
step up by Meng Tian, and have established administrative
area in the land of the raiding nomads. As the land extends to
greater distance, people suffer from a greater burden. To the
west of the Shuo-fang, and to the north of Chang-an, the
outlay for the organization of new commandaries, and the
express of the outposts are beyond calculation. It is not only
this. When Si-ma [Xiang-ru] and Tang Meng bored through a
road to the south-western tribes, Ba and Shu began to the
oppressed by the Qiong and the Zuo. “Across the seas”
dispatched expeditions against the southern barbarians;
“High-decked ship” attacked the eastern Yue; but Jing and
Chu were then overwhelmed by the Ou-luo tribes. After the
“General of the left wing” attacked Korea and opened up the
land of Lin Tun, Yan and Qi came to grief at the hands of the
Hui and Mo tribes. Zhang Qian penetrated to strange and
distant lands, but brought in only unless exotics. Thus the
reserve of the treasuries flow to foreign countries, and the
vast outflow is incomparable with [the economies effected on]
the cost of Dou-pi, and the labor for Zao-yang [which had
been saved]. From this it is seen that the whole affair is not
due to the solicitude of the Emperor, but the mistaken
calculation for the government of busy-body officials.
1. Why are there
troops on the
border according
to the Lord Grand
2. How should the
approach foreign
relations according
to the Literati?  
e. The Lord Grand Security: he who possesses the wisdom of
Guan Zhong would not take up the offices of an underling.
He who possesses the acumen of Tao Zhu, would not remain
in poverty. The Literati are capable of speech, but incapable in
action. They occupy a low position, and yet blame their
superiors. They remain poor, while criticizing the rich. They
make extravagant speeches, without following them up. They
are high sounding, but their conduct is low. They criticize,
praise, and discuss, in order to gain a name and the favor of
the time. Those who earn salaries of not more than a handful,
are not qualified to talk about government. Those who at
home possess less than a load or shi [of gain] are not qualified
to plan things. All the scholars are poor and weak,
unequipped with necessary clothes and hats. What do they
know about the affairs of the state or business of the officials?
What [do they know about] Dou-pi and Zao-yang?
The Literati: A humble station does not circumscribe wisdom.
Poverty does not impair one’s conduct. Yan Yüan was
frequently down to a bare cupboard, but he cannot be said to
have been unworthy. Confucius, though not looking the part,
cannot be denied as a sage. If ‘one must recommend a man
according to his appearance and promote a student according
to his métier, then Tai Gong would have wielded his
butcher’s knife throughout his life and Ning Qi would never
have ceased to tend his cattle. The ancient gentleman
maintained his principles in establishing a name, and
cultivated his personality while waiting his opportunity. Even
poverty would not make him change his principles, nor
would he alter his objective because of low position. He
1. Why are there
troops on the
border according
to the Lord Grand
2. How should the
approach foreign
relations according
to the Literati?  
1. Is  it  right  for  
officials  to  pursue  
would abide in benevolence and act according to duty. He
was even fastidious in the presence of money. Discerning
profit he turned his regard to duty. To acquire riches in an
improper way and high position without justification- this the
benevolent would not do. Hence Zeng Shen and Min Zi
would not exchange their benevolence for the wealth of Jin
and Chu, and Bo Yi would not sell his character for the rank
of a prince. With such as they, Duke Jing of Qi with all his
thousand four-in-hands could not compute in fame.
Confucius said: What a man of worth was Hui! A single bamboo
bowl of millet; a single ladle of cabbage soup; living in a mean alley!
Other could not have borne his distress, but Hui never abated his
cheerfulness. Therefore only the benevolent knows how to live
in straits, enjoying his poverty; while the mean man become
oppressive when rich, and shifty when poor. Yang Zi said: He
who seeks to be rich will not be benevolent. He who wishes to be
benevolent will not be rich. If gain is preferred to honor, and all
try to acquire and to rob with an insatiable appetite, then the
ministers will accumulate millions of wealth, the high officials
gold in thousands of pieces, and the smaller officers their
hundreds. With this self-enrichment and the accumulation of
concentrated wealth, the common people will be left in cold
and misery, wandering along the roads. How could the
Scholars alone keep up a complete outfit of caps and
The Poor and the Rich
a. The Lord Grand Secretary: For more than sixty years have I
been the recipient of Imperial emolument and favor since the
time when, at the age of thirteen, I first tied my hair and
girded myself with the sash, and had the fortune of becoming
an Imperial chamber page, serving in the Emperor’s retinue
until I rose to the rank of minister. In regulating the expenses
for cars, horses, and robes and the expenditure of my family,
servants and clients, I balance the debit and credit side of my
budget and live a life of strict economy. I keep account of each
and everyone of my salaries, appointments, and gifts. My
wealth has accrued gradually unit I have become rich and
acquired an estate. Thus do the worthy maintain their holdings
through   a   uniform   system   of   subdivision,   and   the   wise   keep  
an   account   of   their   wealth   by   systematic   distribution.   Now,  
when  Bai  Gui   made  use  of  goods  neglected  by  others  and  Zi  
Gong  three  times  acquired  a  capital  of  a  thousand  gold  pieces,  
1. Is  it  right  for  
officials  to  
pursue  wealth?  
were   they   necessarily   forced   to   draw   upon   the   resources   of  
other?  No,  they  simply  manipulated  it  with  the  squared  inch,  
manoeuvred   it   with   surplus   and   deficit,   and   gathered   it   in  
between  high  and  low  prices.  
b. The   Literati:   In   ancient   times,   no   man   pursued   two  
occupations  at  the  same  time,  and  trading  profits  and  official  
salary   could   not   be   combined.   For   only   then   would   there   be  
no  disparity   between   occupations,   for   only   then   would  there  
be   no   tipping   of   the   balance   of   wealth.   Had   you   borne   your  
high  rank  and  appointments  with  humility  and  courtesy,  you  
would   have   all   the   fame   you   could   desire;   but   as   you   seek  
profit   by   taking   advantage   of   your   power   and   stations,   your  
income   reaches   levels   incomputable.   Indeed   with   him   who  
feeds   on   the   Nation’s   lakes   and   pools   and   controls   the  
mountains   and   seas,   shepherds   and   woodcutters   are   unable  
to  compete  for  benefit,  and  merchants  and  peddlers,  for  gain.  
Zi  Gong  secured  wealth  in  the  capacity  of  a  common  citizen;  
yet   Confucius   disapproved   of   him.   How   much   more   would  
he  frown   on  him  who   does  it  through  his  position   and  rank!  
In   fact,   in   ancient   times   ministers   were   thoughtful   of  
benevolence   and   duty   in   fulfilling   their   office,   and   never  
considered   using   the   advantages   of   their   power   to   satisfy  
their  private  interests.  
c. The   Lord   Grand   Security:   It   is   only   when   mountain   and  
hillside  have  abundance  that  the  people  can  enjoy  plenty,  and  
only   when   the   seas   and   rivers   have   their   riches   that   the  
masses   can   satisfy   their   wants.   An   ordinary   scoop   can   not  
irrigate   terraced   fields,   nor   can   timber   from   hillocks   and  
downs   be   used   for   the   construction   of   place   halls,   for   the  
small  can  not  encompass  the  big  nor  can  it  be  of  assistance  to  
the  plentiful.  We  know  of  no  case  when  one  unable  to  provide  
for   himself   was   yet   able   to   provide   for   others;   when   one  
unable   to   regulate   himself   was   yet   able   to   regulate   others.  
Thus  he  can  do  most  for  others  who  has  proved  his  ability  in  
working   for   himself;   and   he   best   regulate   others   who   has  
proved  his  worth  in  regulating  himself.  But  you  Scholars  who  
have   never   been   able   to   regulate   your   own   homes,   how   can  
you  hope  to  be  able  to  regulate  affairs  beyond  your  ken?  
d. The   Literati:   One   has   to   make   use   of   carts   in   travelling   over  
1. Is  it  right  for  
great  distance,  and  to  depend  on  ship  in  crossing  river  or  seas.  
officials  to  
of  material  in  order  to  reach  achievement  and  make  name  for  
pursue  wealth?  
A  worthy  scholar  has  also  to  rely  on  capital  and  avail  himself  
himself.   Gong-­‐‑shu   Zi   was   able   to   construct   great   places   and  
towers   with   the   timber   supplied   by   his   royal   patron,   but  
unable   to  build   for   himself   even  a   small   house   or  a   tiny  hut,  
his   own   timber   being   insufficient.   Ou   Ye   could   caste   whole  
cauldrons   and   huge  bell  out  of  the   copper   and   iron  supplied  
by  his  prince,  yet  could  never  make  for  himself  even  a  single  
tripod-­‐‑kettle   or   a   wash-­‐‑basin,   as   he   possessed   not   the  
necessary  material.  A  true  gentleman  may  base  himself  on  the  
legitimate  sovereign  authority  of  the  Ruler  of  Men,  in  order  to  
harmonize  the  interests  of  the  people  and  bring  prosperity  to  
the  masses,  but  can  not  enrich  his  own  family,  for  his  position  
is   not   conducive   to   such   an   end.   Thus   when   Shun   was  
farming   at   Li   Shan,   his   bounties   did   not   extend   to   cover   all  
the  villages  of  the  province;  when  Tai  Gong  was  a  butcher  at  
Chao  Ge,  his  profits  did  not  benefit  his  wife  and  children.  But  
when   they   finally   found   official   employment,   their  
munificence   flowed   to   the   brim   the   Four   Seas.   Shun,  
therefore,   was   obliged   to   rely   on   Yao,   and   Tai   Gong  
depended   upon   Zhou.   A   true   gentleman   can   only   cultivate  
his  person  so  that,  relying  on  right  conduct,  he  will  be  able  to  
increase  his  own  capital.  
e. The   Lord   Grand   Secretary:   Dao   hung   its   law   in   the   heavens  
and  spread  its  product  on  the  face  of  the  earth  for  the  wise  to  
increase  their  substance  therewith,  while  the  stupid  remain  in  
distress.  It  was  thus  that  Zi  Gong  became  famous  among   the  
feudal   nobles   for   his   display   of   accumulated   for   his  
abounding   riches.   The   rich   sought   their   friendship;   the   poor  
looked  to  them  for  support.  Thus  all,  from  the  ruler  above  to  
the   simple-­‐‑dressed   commoner   below,   venerated   them   for  
their   virtue  and  praised  them   for   their   altruism.   At   the  same  
time,   Yüan   Xian   and   Kong   Ji   suffered   all   their   lives   from  
hunger   and   cold,   and   Yan   Hui   lived   in   chronic   want   in   a  
beggars’   alley.   In   those   moments   when   pursued   by   poverty,  
they   found   shelter   in   caves   and   covered   their   bodies   with  
ragged   hemp-­‐‑wadded   clothes,   even   if   they   wished   to   place  
their   reliance   on   wealth,   resorting   to   crime   and   deceit,   they  
would  not  be  equal  to  it.  
1. Is  it  right  for  
officials  to  
pursue  wealth?  
The   Literati:   If   wealth   were   a  thing  one   could   (count   on) finding,  
said   Confucius,   even   though   it   meant   may   becoming   a   whip-­‐‑
holding  groom,  I  would  do  it.  As  one  can  not  (count  on)  finding  it,  I  
will  follow  the  quests  that  I  love  better.  The  true  gentleman  seeks  
duty,  not  wealth  at  any  price.  Hence  the  criticism  pronounced  
on  Zi   Gong   for   not   being   content   with   his   lot   and   increasing  
1. What  does  the  
his   goods.   A   true   gentleman   would   attain   wealth   and   rank  
Lord  Grand  
enjoy   the   way   of   virtue,   and   never   seeks   to   burden   himself  
when   the   times   favor   him;   otherwise   he   would   retire,   and  
Secretary  think  
with  questions  of  profit.  Thus  he  never  turns  his  back  on  duty  
of  the  Literati  
inconspicuous   life   and   cultivate   his   principles   lets   he   injure  
and  why?  
2. What  do  the  
or   is   recklessly   grasping;   he   would   rather   live   an  
his  conduct.  He  therefore  never  ruins  hi  reputation  in  pursuit  
of  position.  Though  to  him  be  added  the  families  of  Han  and  Wei,  
he   would   not   remain   with   them   should   it   be   contrary   to   his  
objective.  Wealth  and  rank  add  not  to  his  honor,  slander  and  
Literati  think  of  
defamation   do   him   no   harm.   Therefore   the   shabby   hemp-­‐‑
officials  like  the  
fox   and   raccoon   furs   of   Qi-­‐‑sun;   the   meager   fish   fare   of   Zhao  
quilted   robe   of   Yüan   Xian   was   more   illustrious   than   all   the  
Lord  Grand  
Xüan-­‐‑meng   far   more   delicious   than   all   the   viand   of   Zhi   Bo;  
Secretary  and  
of  Duke  of  Yü.  Marquis  Wen  of  Wei  bowed  to  the  front  bar  of  
and  Zi  Si’s  silver  pendant  more  beautiful  than  the  Chui  Ji  gem  
his  carriage  while  driving  past  Duan  Gan-­‐‑mu’s  residence,  not  
because   the   latter   possessed   any   temporal   influence;   and  
Duke  Wen  of  Jin  alighted  from  his  chariot  and  ran  out  to  meet  
Han   Qing,   not   because   the   latter   was   a   great   capitalist.   They  
did  so  because  the  two  scholars’  were  rich  in  benevolence  and  
complete   in   their   virtue.   Therefore,   why   must   honors   be  
given  to  wealth,  when  they  are  really  due  to  benevolence  and  
Vilifying the Learned
a. The  Lord  Grand  Secretary:  It  is  not  the  nature  of  a  scholar  to  
1. What  does  the  
nurse   crookedness   while   speaking   straight   and   true,   to   rely  
Lord  Grand  
conduct.  Li  Si  and  Bao  Qiu-­‐‑zi  according  to  tradition,  both  sat  
Secretary  think  
at   the   feet   of   Xün   Qing.   Their   training   completed,   Li   Si  
entered  the  service  of   Qin  where  he  subsequently   rose  to   the  
of  the  Literati  
rank  of   one  of  the  Three  Highest  Ministers,  and  possessed  of  
and  why?  
over  the  realm  within  the  Seas,  in  achievement  equal  to  Yi  Yin  
2. What  do  the  
upon   himself   as   if   desiring   while   actually   not   following   in  
the   power   of   a   lord   of   ten   thousand   chariots   he   held   sway  
and  Lü  Wang,  in  fame  loftier  than  Mount  Tai.  But  Bao  Qiu-­‐‑zi  
never  got  beyond  the  Oeil-­‐‑de-­‐‑boeuf  of  a  thatched  hovel,  his  fate  
Literati  think  of  
comparable  to  that  of  frog  which,  though  multisonous  indeed  
officials  like  the  
in   some   drain   or   ditch.   Now,   lovers   of   disputation,   without  
Lord  Grand  
great  reputation  abroad,  poor  and  inconspicuous  that  you  are,  
during  a  flood  year,  are  but  destined  to  perish  sooner  or  later  
proper   means   to   support   yourselves   at   home   and   with   no  
Secretary  and  
even   though   you   can   talk   on   proper   conduct,   neither   is   you  
weight  every  great.  
b. The  Literati:  When  Li  Si  became  chancellor  of  Qin,  Shi-­‐‑huang  
appointed  him  to  an  office,  which  was  higher  than  that  of  any  
other   person   or   minister.   Yet   Xün   Qing   did   not   take   office  
under   him,   prescient   that   he   would   fall   into   unfathomable  
disasters.   Bao   Qiu-­‐‑zi,   who   lived   on   wild   kraut   growing  
among  the  hemp,  and  cultivated  the  Way  of  virtue  beneath  a  
plain  white-­‐‑   washed  roof,  was  happy  in  his  aspirations,  more  
contented  than   were   living   in   a   spacious  mansion   with   meat  
as   his   fare.   Though   never   enjoying   resplendent   station,   he  
was  yet   free   from   all   pretty   anxiety.   Now   Duke   Xian   of   Jin’s  
chui   ji   gem   was   beautiful   beyond   dispute;   but   Gong   Zhi-­‐‑qi,  
seeing  it,   groaned,   knowing  well   that   it   was   part   of   Xün  Xi’s  
plot   against   his   country.   Zhi   Bo   possessing   all   the   wealth   of  
the   Three   Jin   States   was   certainly  at   the   height   of   his   power;  
yet   hardly   did   he   suspect   that   Xiang   Zi   planned   to   entrap  
him.   The   fox   and   raccoon   furs   of   Ji   Sun   were   undoubtedly  
magnificent;   yet   never   did   he   suspect   that   the   prince   of   Lu  
considered  him  as  a  menace  to  his  state.  Thus  did  Xian  of  Jin  
hook   Yü   and   Guo   by   means   of   the   precious   horses,   and  
through  the  city  did  Xiang  Zi  enveigle  Zhi  Bo  with  the  result  
that   the   latter   fell   into   the   hands   of   Zhao,   and   Yü   and   Guo  
were   both   annexed   by   Jin.   Thinking   only   of   what   they   were  
about   to   obtain,   regardless   of   consequence,   Zhi   Bo   and   the  
1. What  does  the  
two  states  only  coveted  territory  or  valued  prized  mounts.  As  
Lord  Grand  
Confucius   said:     Who   heeds   not   the   future   will   find   sorrow   at  
Secretary  think  
providing   against   possible   loss;   and   only   covet   prizes,   never  
hand.   But   our   present-­‐‑day   authorities   see   only   gain,   never  
of  the  Literati  
considering   possible   disgrace,   always   willing   to   exchange  
and  why?  
privileges   of   wealth   and   rank   without   ever   possessing   the  
their   lives   for   profit   and   to   die   for   money.   They   enjoy   the  
virtues  of  altruism  and  right  conduct;  indeed  they  are  as  one  
2. What  do  the  
who  step  upon  a  trap  relay  to  be  sprung,  or  one  who  is  dining  
under   a   portcullis!   Thus   it   was   that   Li   Si   suffered   the   five  
Literati  think  of  
penalties:     There   was   a   bird   in   a   southern   clime   called   Wan-­‐‑chu.  
officials  like  the  
He   would   eat   nothing   but   the   bamboo   core,   drink   nothing   but   the  
Lord  Grand  
Tai  Shan,  who  was  just  picking  up  a  decayed  rat,  looked  up  and  saw  
water  of  the  clearest  spring.  As  he  flew  over  Mount  Tai,  the  Kite  of  
Secretary  and  
Wan-­‐‑chu.   “Shoo!”   cried   Kite.   Now,   with   all   your   wealth   and  
Confucian   scholars,   as   you   do   so   frequently.   Is   not   your  
rank,   Lord   High   Minister,   it   pleases   you   to   scoff   at   us  
conduct   similar   to   that   of   the   Kite   of   Tai   Shan   “shooing”   at  
the  Wan-­‐‑chu!    
c. The  Lord  Grand  Secretary:  ‘Tis  Learning’s  part  to  curb  crude  
speech,   and   Courtesy’s   function   to   veneer   rustic   manners.  
Thus   Learning   should   prop   Virtue,   Courtesy   should   civilize  
Crudeness.  Our  minds   should  weigh  words  before   speaking;  
action   after   thought   gives   pleasure.   Lips   should   not   open   to  
let   forth   bad   language,   and   one   should   comply   with   good  
manners,  endeavoring  to  walk  with  dignity  along  the  path  of  
decorum.  Behave  therefore   in  accordance  with   property,  and  
let  your  utterance  be  in  accordance  with  the  rules  of  courtesy.  
It   is   only   thus   that   you   may   speak   all   day   without   being  
malapert,   and   act   all   your   days   without   setting   a   bad  
example.   Now,   the   Ruler   of   Men,   in   order   to   govern   the  
people,   has   provided   offices   and   established   courts,   and   has  
distributed   ranks and assigned salaries to honor the worthies-
and you speak here of portcullis and decayed rats! Fire! To be
so coarse in speech and so pervert to schooling!  
1. What  does  the  
distributes  salaries  for  the  sustenance  of  worthies;  it  is  for  the  
capable  to  receive  them.  For  the  just  and  honorable,  no  honor  
should   be   too   high   and   no   emolument   too   great.   Thus   Shun  
Secretary  think  
occupy   the   post   of   one   of   the   Three   Highest   Ministers   with  
received   the   Empire   from   Yao,   and   Tai   Gong   could   not   buy  
of  the  Literati  
the  Zhou.   If   one   be   unfit   for   any  position,  even  the  giving   of  
and  why?  
alms.   Therefore,   those   whose   station   was   high   and   yet   their  
Literati  think  of  
necessary   functions;   it   is   for   the   able   to   occupy   them.   He  
Lord  Grand  
2. What  do  the  
d. The  Literati:  The  Sage  Ruler  provides  offices   for  carrying  out  
but  a  basket  of  rice  and  a  plate  of  soup,  would  be  like  giving  
virtue   thin,   whose   responsibility   was   heavy   but   strength  
small,  were  few,  for  they  were  not  equal  to  it.  The  Kite  of  Tai  
Shan   picked   up   but   a   decayed   rat   in   some   remote   marsh   or  
obscure  valley;  he  never  intended   to  do  harm  to  anyone.  But  
officials  like  the  
you,  our  present  officiators,  you  rob  the  Ruler’s  treasury  and  
Lord  Grand  
that   their   mechanism   may   be   set   into   motion!   And   with   all  
feed   upon   it   in   the   very   face   of   the   punitive   laws,   unaware  
Secretary  and  
that,  you  “shoo”  at  people!  In  villainy  indeed  you  can  hardly  
be  compared  to  the  Kite  of  Tai  Shan!  
e. The  Lord  Grand  Secretary:  Said   Magister   Si-­‐‑ma:   Hustling  and  
bustling,   after   gain   the   world   is   rushing:   Maids   of   Zhao   not  
particular   as   to   beauty   or   homeliness;   matrons   of   Zheng  
undiscriminating   between   foreigner   and   countryman;   merchants  
willing   to   face   dishonor   and   disgrace,   soldiers   not   willing   to  
serve  to  the  death;  officers,  indifferent  to  relatives,  in  serving  
their   Prince   willing   to   face   any   risk   at   his   expense;   everyone  
and   all   working   but   for   profit   and   salary.   The   Confucianists  
and  the  Mohists,  with  greedy  hearts  but  dignified  mien,  roam  
back   and   forth   with   their   sophists’   arguments.   Their   perching  
here  and  perching  there  can   also   be   explained   by   their   appetite  
not   being   satisfied.   For   the   scholar’s   want   is   also   honor   and  
fame;  wealth  and  rank,  the  object  of  his  expectations.  When  Li  
Si  was  studying  at  the  door  of  Xün  Qing,  he  rode  side  by  side  
with   ne’er-­‐‑do-­‐‑wells.   Then,   when   he   raised   his   wings   in   high  
flight   surging  forth   like   a  dragon,   breaking   into   gallop  like   a  
charger,   “passing   by   nine   and   overtaking   two,”   soaring   to   a  
height   of   ten   thousand   cubits,   the   wild   swan   and   the   fleet  
courser   could   hardly   keep   pace   with   him,   to   say   nothing   of  
lame   ewes   and   finches   and   sparrows!   Seated   in   the   seat   of  
power   over   all   the   Empire,   driving   the   masses   of   the   world  
before  him,  he  enjoyed  a  retinue  of  a  hundred  chariots  and  an  
1. What  does  the  
income   of   ten   thousand   measures,   while   your   doctrinaire  
Lord  Grand  
nor   enough   husks   to   fill   their   stomachs.   Not   that   they   find  
Confucianists   can   not   have   even   a   full   suit   of   cotton   clothes  
bean   and   legume   tasty   and   hold   spacious   mansions   in   low  
Secretary  think  
esteem,   but   they   can   never   obtain   the   latter   for   themselves.  
of  the  Literati  
and  why?  
2. What  do  the  
Even   though   they   would   like   to   “shoo”   at   others,   how   can  
they  do  so?  
The   Literati:   The   Gentleman   esteem   virtue,   the   mean   man  
dotes   on   land;   the   worthy   scholar   suffers   martyrdom   for   his  
Literati  think  of  
good   name,   the   miser   dies   for   gain.   Li   Si,   coveting   desirable  
officials  like  the  
early   possible   troubles,   three   times   resigned   from   his  
Lord  Grand  
found   pleasure   in   stations   low   and   mean,   and   dislikes  
objects,   came   to   a   hateful   end,   while   Sun-­‐‑shu   Ao,   foreseeing  
Chancellorship   and   had   no   occasion   for   regret.   Not   that   he  
Secretary  and  
generous   salaries,   but   he   considered   the   distant   future   and  
sacrifice,   is   fed   and   taken   care   of   throughout   a   whole   year,  
took  care  to  avoid  all  harm.  The  ox,  reserved  for  the  suburban  
before   being   bedecked   in   rich   embroidery   and   led   into   the  
temple   hall.   Then   does   the   Great   Sacrificer   seize   his   belled  
sword,  about  to  part  open  its  hair.  At  that  moment,  even  if  it  
wanted  to  be  up  a  steep  hillside  under  a  heavy  load,  it  cannot  
get  its  wish.  When  Shang  Yang  was  hard  pressed  at  Peng  Chi  
and   Wu   Qi   cowered   behind   his   prince’s   body,   they  
undoubtedly   wished   they   were   in   coarse   clothes   living   in  
some   wretched   straw   hut.   When   Li   Si   was   Qin’s   Chancellor,  
seated  in  the  seat  of  power  over  the  whole  Empire,  a  realm  of  
ten  thousand   chariots   would  seem  small  to  his  ambition;  but  
when   locked   in   prison   and   finally   when   being   torn   apart   by  
chariots   in   market   place   of   Yun-­‐‑yang,   he   also   undoubtedly  
wished   he   were   carrying   wood   to   Dong-­‐‑men   or   walking  
through   the   crooked short-cuts of Shang-cai but he could
never get his wish. Su Qin and Wu Qi killed themselves by
their power and position; Shang Yang and Li Si brought
themselves to destruction by their prestige and honor; all of
them came to their end through their greed and vanity. All the
hundred chariots of their escort could not have carried away
their load of grief!  

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government and political discourses

economic wellbeing

Lord Grand Secretary

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