The Follow-up Letter to the Prime Minister Nineteen Days After the First Letter

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

February 16th

Honorable Prime Minister,

    I am Yuh Harn. The mayor of my hometown recommended me as a candidate for the advanced exam and I have passed it. Nineteen days ago, I wrote you a letter to request a job and attached my literary essays. However, I have not received your reply. I am concerned that I may have annoyed you, but do not dare to leave the capital in the hope that you might reply. I do not know what to do. Therefore, I again risk blame in order to complete what I need to say and explicitly request your response.

    I have heard that when one is trapped in water or fire, he will call for someone to rescue him, in anticipation that people who are not even related to him would provide assistance. Even if the onlooker is his enemy, the person in peril will still call loudly as long as he knows that his enemy does not wish him dead. If someone nearby hears the cry and sees him in danger, he will attempt a rescue even though the victim is not a relative. Even if the victim is an enemy, the spectator will run fast, exhaust his strength, and wet his hands and feet or burn his hair to perform the rescue. All this he will do without any hesitation if he does not wish death upon the endangered person. This is because the danger is imminent and the situation is pitiful indeed.

    I have studied hard and followed moral principles for many years. I am so foolish that no matter whether this journey is bumpy or smooth, I continue to pursue my dreams. Therefore, I am trapped in the hardship of hunger and poverty just like someone caught in water or fire. Due to the imminent danger, I raise my voice and cry desperately. Now you have heard my voice. Will you come to rescue me or remain in a safe place and leave me unrescued? Suppose someone comes to speak to you, saying, "Even though there is a way to save the person who is drowning in water or burning in fire, some people will not rescue him." Do you think such people are kind? If not, my situation should be pitiful enough to move a kind person like you to help me. Someone may say, "Your words are true; the Prime Minister understands your situation. However, the timing is not right. What can we do?" In my opinion, this is only his excuse. The truth is that he considers me not talented enough to deserve your recommendation. As for job opportunities, they are created by the one in power instead of the god of fortune.

    Five or six years ago, common people were recommended by the Prime Minister to the emperor. Is there any difference between now and then? Now even a governor or mayor can recommend someone to be a local judge, no matter whether he has held a government position or not. Can a prime minister, the one whom the emperor respects, say he is unable to recommend people? In ancient times, some prime ministers selected people for government positions even from a band of robbers or managers of warehouses. Low as I am, at least I am better than these people. Because my mind is focused on a job, my words may be harsh and my judgment may be in error. I hope you will be sympathetic with my situation.

Your servant,

Yuh Harn