Zhe Chu Persuaded the Queen mother of Zhao

Strategies During the Warring States Period (403-221 BCE)

    As soon as the Queen Mother of the State of Zhao took over her government, the State of Qin quickly attacked Zhao. Zhao asked the State of Qi for military assistance. The King of Qi said that he would send an army to rescue Zhao only if he could take Prince Chang-an of Zhao as hostage. The Queen Mother of Zhao was not willing to accept the condition. The officials of Zhao strove to persuade her. The queen mother told her officials, "I would spit on anyone's face who dares to ask me to send my youngest son as a hostage again."

    Official Zhe Chu said that he would like to see the queen mother. The queen mother was angry and waited for him. When Chu entered the queen mother's court, he walked slowly. When he saw the queen mother, he asked for her forgiveness, "I have a problem with my foot and cannot walk fast, so I have not come to see you for a long time. I worry that you may also have health problems, so I have come to see you." The queen mother said, "I usually take a carriage instead of walking." Chu asked caringly, "Has your appetite been reduced?" She replied, "I only eat soft rice." Chu said, "I have not had any appetite at all recently, so I force myself to walk 0.43 to 0.57 miles daily to increase my appetite and make my body more healthy." The queen mother said, "I cannot do that." Her face became somewhat peaceful.

    Chu said, "My youngest son has no talent. However, I love him very much because I am old. I hope that he can receive a position as guard to protect the palace. Therefore, I risk my life to come here so that you can listen to my wish." The queen mother said, "OK! How old is he?" Chu replied, "He is only fifteen. Although he is too young, I would like to ask this favor of you before I die." The queen mother asked, "Does a man love his youngest children also?" Chu replied, "More than a woman." The queen mother laughed and said, "A woman loves her son much more than a man does." Chu said, "In my opinion, Your Majesty loves Princess Yan more than Prince Chang-an." The queen mother said gravely, "You are wrong! I do not love Princess Yan as much as Prince Chang-an." Chu said, "Parents who love their children will have a long-term plan to benefit them. When you gave away Princess Yan, you hugged her and cried because she was going far away. This showed that you loved her very much. After she left, whenever you have prayed, you have said, 'Do not let her come back!' This is not because you do not miss her, but because you want her to have offspring who can become king generation after generation." The queen mother said, "Yes!"

    Chu said, "Dukedoms are usually given to a king's children. In Zhao, were there any dukes three generations ago whose offspring still hold the dukedoms?" The queen mother said, "None." Chu continued to ask, "In other countries, are there any such cases?" The queen mother said, "I have not heard of any." Then Chu said, "This is because disasters came either directly to these dukes or later to their offspring. Must the offspring of kings be inferior? No. This is because they were born into a prominent position, but have no contribution to their country. They do not work, but they receive a large salary. They possess a lot of treasure as well. Now Your Majesty gave Prince Chang-an a dukedom, rich land, and plenty of treasure. Once Your Majesty passes away, how could Prince Chang-an stand on his own in Zhao? In my opinion, Your Majesty fails to make a long-term plan for Prince Chang-an, so I say that you do not love Prince Chang-an as much as Princess Yan. The queen mother said, "OK! Let Prince Chang-an go to where you think is proper."

    Consequently, Chu prepared 100 carriages for Prince Chang-an to go to Qi as a hostage. Qi's army then came to rescue Zhao. After Sage Zi-yi heard this event, he said, "Even the queen mother's son cannot have a prominent position without any contribution to the country, cannot receive a salary without work, and cannot keep his treasure without any duty. How, then, can an official do so?"