Ch'i Asked to Pardon Hsiang

Tzuoo's Interpretation of Spring-Fall

    Official Luan of Country Chin escaped to Country Ch'u. The Prime Minister of Chin, Fan, killed his accomplice, Hu, and arrested Hu's brother, Hsiang.

    People asked Hsiang, "Do you suffer imprisonment because of you are foolish?" Hsiang replied, "Imprisonment is better than death. The Bible of Poetry says, 'One enjoys his life by being morally strong and avoiding stress.' This is a wise attitude toward life."

    Huan went to see Hsiang and told him, "Let me ask the king to pardon you." Hsiang ignored him and did not even say good-by to him. Everyone blamed Hsiang. Hsiang said, "I will only allow Ch'i to ask the king to pardon me." Hsiang's head servant said, "The king will grant whatever Huan requests. Huan volunteered to help you, but you did not approve. Ch'i does not have enough influence to help you. Why do you want him to ask the king to pardon you?" Hsiang said, "Huan does not have his own opinion. The king's opinion is his opinion. How can Huan rescue someone based on justice? In contrast, when Ch'i assists innocent people who are outside his family, he excludes no one, even his enemy. If the innocent is a member of his family, he will provide help without concern for the disapproval of others. He will surely help me for the sake of justice. The Bible of Poetry says, 'People everywhere respect a man of high principle as their role model.' Ch'i is such a man."

    The king of Chin asked Huan whether Hsiang was guilty. Huan said, "Hsiang always helped his brother. Perhaps he was an accomplice of Hu." At that time, Ch'i had retired already. Having heard of Hsiang's imprisonment, he rode a stagecoach to see Fan. He told Fan, "The Bible of Poetry says, 'Emperor Wen and Wu had served people well, so people supported their offspring.' The Bible of Journalism says, 'For those who harbor a great plan and have made great contributions to our country, the government should protect and award them.' Hsiang is such a man because he has vision and has untiringly devoted himself to our country. If the government offers clemency to those who have made great contribution to our society, it will encourage more talented people to serve our country. It would be very puzzling if we were to discard a pillar of society because of his brother's crime. Consider three precedents. First, during the reign of Emperor Shun the Yellow River flooded frequently. Shun ordered Goen to solve the flooding problem. Goen failed, so Shun punished him with a death sentence. However, Shun hired Goen's son, Yu, to continue his father's work. After nine years' hard work, the flooding problem was finally solved. Due to Yu's great contribution to China, Shun let Yu inherit his throne. Second, Prime Minister Yin banished Emperor Chia because of his hedonism and self-indulgence. After Chia repented and corrected his problems, his emperorship was reinstated. Chia was glad to appoint Yin to be his Prime Minister despite their bitter past. Third, Dukes Kuan and Ts'ai, the brothers of Duke Chou, were killed as the result of treason. However, Chou was still appointed to be the Prince Regent. How can we discard the pillar of society because of Hu's crime? If you perform good deeds, who dares not to be encouraged? There is no reason to kill innocent people."

    Fan was glad to follow Ch'i's advice, so he rode with Ch'i to see the king and asked him to pardon Hsiang. After gaining the king's approval, Ch'i went home directly without seeing Hsiang. After Hsiang's release, he returned directly to his office without saying thank-you to Ch'i.