Letter to Director Ch'en

Harn, Yuh (768 A.D.-824 A.D.)

Honorable Director Ch'en,

    Several years ago I was fortunate to meet you. I must have made a good impression on you because I received your praise at that time. I was poor and busy with earning money for food and clothing, so I could not see you very often. Later, you continued to be promoted to higher rank. Your students and servants quickly increased in number. When one’s rank gets higher, one’s relationship with the poor becomes more distant. When the number of one’s students and servants increases, one’s love becomes too broad to focus on one person. In the meantime, I failed to make any progress with my moral development and my pursuit of knowledge, but my literary essays became famous. If one fails to make progress in moral development, wise men will not praise one’s work. If one's literary essays gain fame, his peers will become jealous. At first our friendship became distant simply because I could not visit you very often; now there are three reasons why I am sure that your mansion will not contain my traces any more. First, your favor is difficult to obtain because you have so many students to care about. Second, my work no longer deserves your praise. Third, I suspect that you have been influenced by the words of my jealous competitors.

    I visited you last spring. You were so affable that it seemed as if I were your new friend. You spoke with me for a long while, asking questions and prolonging the conversation as if you were sympathetic about my poverty. When I departed, I was very happy and related the story to my friends. Later, I went to City D and got married. Thus, I could not visit you frequently. When I came back from City D, I went to see you again. You looked distant as if you were not interested in evaluating my work. Your curt response seemed to say that you did not desire to converse. When I returned home, I was worried and did not dare to visit you again.

    Now I finally realize your meaning with relief, and regret my previous opinion about you. I interpret your attitude as follows: You looked distant because you were saddened that I failed to visit you frequently; to express your feelings you spoke little. I dare not visit you, so I explain my concern in this letter. Also I present you my new book, My Regained Ambition, consisting of ten essays. One essay, Farewell to Mr. Meng, has several blotches and scribbled notes . This is because I am anxious to relate my concern, and do not want to take the time to recopy the essay. Please evaluate the content of my book and ignore my lack of courtesy.

Your concerned servant,

Yuh Harn