Chowbeng, in case you have not noticed, I have not translated Chapter 1. Pannonian, their imaginative power was rather lacking. Anh, you are most welcome. Here's the end of Chapter 48.
During the negotiation to define the boundaries, both sides did not take the previous owner of any localities into consideration. None of Chinese land fell into Luocha territory, but the forts and colonies that Luocha already built were forced to retreat after the signing; indeed it was Chinese military and diplomatic victory. According to the treaty, the land incorporated into China covering a total of two million square kilometers, about twice the area of northeastern Chinese provinces of today. After the treaty took effect, China’s northeast frontier enjoyed more than a hundred and fifty years of peace, while Luocha’s endeavor of eastern invasion was blocked, and their ambition to encroach other country was somewhat restrained. Since Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong, and other imperial rulers after them, Manchurian Qing has taken part in signing treaties with other countries, China has never lost either land or authority. Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao greatly raised national prestige into an awe-inspiring level that year, no one in later generations has ever seen nor repeated.
(Book note: Wei Xiaobao’s odd signature on the treaty was unrecognizable. Later generation’s historians only knew Songgotu and Feodor’s names. Even archeologists of Guo Moruo caliber, who understood oracle script, did not know that there was a ‘Xiao’ character signature on the Treaty of Nerchinsk; so Wei Xiaobao’s great name passed into oblivion. The historical records of later generations stated that the Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed by Songgotu and Feodor. Throughout the ages, those who know that the character Wei Xiaobao once existed on the earth are only the readers of ‘The Deer and The Cauldron’. With the exception of supplementary account involving Wei Xiaobao, which the history books omitted, our book’s narrative on the signing of the Treaty of Nerchinsk, as well as its content, are all based on historical records.)
According to the custom of those days, both parties released salvo simultaneously, made an oath to the Heaven, promised to be unswervingly faithful. Qing side’s four hundred cannon were all fired together on Nerchinsk’s east, south, west and north sides, the explosion shook the earth. Russian side’s cannon were only about twenty, the sound was weak, the difference in intensity and momentum could not be measured by li. Feodor inwardly admitted that they were lucky; if the peace negotiation failed, and war broke, Russia would definitely suffer a crushing defeat.
Right away the envoys of both countries exchanged gifts. Feodor presented Wei Xiaobao and the others with watch, telescope, silverware, mink fur, saber and sword, and other gifts. Wei Xiaobao presented the opposite party’s diplomatic envoys with horse, saddle and reins, golden cups, silk garments, silk fabrics, and so on. In addition, the two hundred sixty Cossack cavalry received twenty taels of fine silver each to compensate their belts being cutoff by the Qing troops.
That evening there was a big feast to celebrate the completed treaty. Feodor was still worried, he did not know whether the troops sent to attack Moscow had been recalled or not. He continuously tried to sound out Wei Xiaobao, but Wei Xiaobao pretended not knowing anything.
Two days later Feodor received a report that a large group of Qing troops arrived from the west. He climbed to the top of the city wall and looked using the telescope. Sure enough, he saw a large group of Qing troops were approaching from the west, marched pass Nerchinsk, and pitched camp to the east. Feodor was greatly delighted; he knew that the Qing troops to attack the west had been recalled. He did not realize that this large group of Qing troops set up camp only about two hundred li west of Nerchinsk, waiting for orders. As soon as they heard the cannon, they struck camp and slowly pulling back to the east.
Several days later, stone carvers already completed the boundary markers. The upright stone tablets had inscriptions in five languages, Manchu, Han, Mongolian, Latin and Luocha. The border markers were erected on the eastern bank of Gorbitsa River, southern bank or Argun River, as well as other places throughout the northeast via the Great Mountain Yike’alin, and other places.
The inscription on the tablet stated clearly that Gorbitsa River was the boundary between the two countries: “Following this river going upstream to the barren land, to the great Xing’an down to the sea, where the river flows from the region south of the mountain into Heilongjiang, everything belongs to China; the river north of the mountain belongs to Russia.” It also stated clearly, “The Argun River flowing into Heilongjiang is the border, the southern bank of the river belongs to China, the northern bank of the river belongs to Russia. Therefore, all the Russian settlements on the southern bank toward Meile’erke estuary must be moved to the northern bank.” It also stated clearly, “The buildings of Russian people in Yakesa, as well as various belongings, must all be removed toward Chahanhan.” It also stated clearly, “Ordinary citizen, livestock, and so on must not cross the border. If the people meet while holding hunting weapons in their hands, those who kill and loot will be promptly arrested and persecuted by law. Small affair must not be allowed to spoil big affair. China and Russia, two countries are reconciled, this fact is not to be disputed.”
The imperial envoys of both countries sent their subordinates to survey the land, after it was verified that there was no mistake, the boundary markers were erected. These border marks ought to define the unchanging border between China and Russia, two countries, for ten thousand years. However, a hundred and some dozen of years later, Russia took advantage when China was in decline, unexpectedly they nibbled away China’s territory step by step, disregarding the border markers that were installed in the past, annexing China’s wide expanse of rich and fertile land into their territory. When the later generations read the history of this affair, they could only sigh and comment, “The land Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao secured, as well as their effort in chasing away the ambition of wild wolves of Luocha people, how could we restore it to our homeland?”
The establishment of boundary markers finished, the imperial envoys of both countries saluted each other and bade farewell, separately returning to their capital to give report on the completion of this mission.
Wei Xiaobao summoned Poyarkov and Stepanov, instructing them to present his gifts to Princess Sophia, included among these were brocade quilt, embroidered pillow. The northern country was a desolate and rural land, these items could not be purchased anywhere in that area, so these items actually belonged to Shuang’er. Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “If the Princess really miss me, she can cuddle the silk blanket and pillow.”
Poyarkov said, “Her Highness the Princess’ affection to Your Excellency Daren is enduring while the world lasts, blanket and pillow are easily worn out, it would be better if Daren assign several bridge-building experts to Moscow to build a stone bridge. A stone bridge will not wear out forever.”
Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I have given this matter a lot of thought, you need not be long-winded.” He ordered his personal guards to lift up a large wooden chest, about eight chi long, four chi wide, all in all, it looked a lot like a coffin. Eight personal guards carried it using large shoulder poles; it appeared to be very heavy. The outside of the chest was wrapped with heavy iron strips, sealed with hot-lacquer seal. Wei Xiaobao said, “This gift is extremely important, you must protect it well, do not damage it. When the Princess sees it, she will definitely be happy. This enduring-while-the-world-lasts affection will be completely as secure as a Chinese stone bridge.” The two Luocha captains did not dare to ask too much, they received the wooden chest and left.
This large wooden chest weighed more than a thousand catties, it was transported tens of thousands of li from the remote Nechinsk all the way to Moscow; it was indeed a hard work. After Princess Sophia received and opened it, to her surprise it was a naked stone statue of Wei Xiaobao, beaming from ear to ear, vivid and lifelike. Turned out Wei Xiaobao had the stone carvers who prepared the boundary markers to carve his image; he also had the Dutch missionary write ‘I will always love you’ in Luocha character, and carve the words on the stone statue’s chest.
When Sophia saw it, she did not know whether to laugh or to cry; she recalled that this Chinese little child was an eccentric elf, but no Luocha men could match him. She could not help remembering him with fondness, her spirit seemed to gallop ten thousand li. This stone statue was kept inside Kremlin Palace. Later on Peter the Great launched a coup, he expelled Princess Sophia out of the Palace; since the stone statue was related to her, it was smashed to pieces. Only a piece of the stone statue was smuggled out by an ordinary soldier. Ignorant Luocha women who prayed for a child would gently caress and stroke the stone statue’s lower body, allegedly it was very effective.
(Book Note: ‘Duhu’ was the army and government governor-general of Han Dynasty who ruled various states in the western region. ‘Yumen Pass’ was the major road going through the western region during the Han era. ‘Cannot establish Yumen Pass’ means the territory was so large, the original gate of the Pass could not become a strategic focal of frontier defense. ‘Attach utmost importance to copper pillar as boundary marker’ refers to after the Eastern Han’s Ma Yuan conquering the former southernmost province of the Chinese Empire (Annan), he opened up new territory and set up copper pillars to demarcate the boundary, thinking that it would be beneficial to China’s border.)
 From the dictionary: Guo Moruo (1892-1978), writer, communist party intellectual and cultural apparatchik.
"Only a piece of the stone statue was smuggled out by an ordinary soldier. Ignorant Luocha women who prayed for a child would gently caress and stroke the stone statue’s lower body, allegedly it was very effective."
JY really has a great sense of humor, hahaha.
Thank you for this update, foxs. You are always working so hard to entertain us. Greatly appreciate it.
Wow....was busy and rewarded with a few updates....entertaining ones.
Looking forward to the 1st chapter.....any chapter that Foxs translates.... Will love it.
Foxs: Ops...I misunderstood you, thought you would intend to revise the translation from the beginning. I wasn't aware that you didn't translate Chapter 1, it is a good idea not to leave it to the last. I guess you are not so "crazy" afterall.
I wonder how JY got inspired to write about the stone statue? LOL - I keep on thinking about Michelangelo's Statue of David. For
Russian woman that must have been quite romantic, also marks the first time (that I read) a male JY protagonist professing his love in simple written words (even though WXB didn't really mean it).
Tweety, Crazee, Anh, three more chapters, I must not quit now. Thank you for your support, really appreciate it. Chowbeng, thanks, I think ... Smurf, LOL.
EDIT: I decided to post it here, and move the entire chapter to posts #1 and 2 later.
Chapter 1 – Crooked bunch went on a rampage courting disaster, discussing early morning moon during high wind.
(Translated by Foxs)
Northern wind as sharp as a blade, ice and frost covered the earth.
Along a Jiangnan [are south of the River, i.e. Yangtze] coastal road, a company of Qing troops with sabers and spears in their hands was escorting seven prisoner carriages, braving the wind and the cold traveling northward. The first three carriages in the front separately held three men, all dressed as scholars. One was an old man with white hair, the other two were middle-aged men. The four carriages on the rear held women, the very last prisoner carriage held a young woman, holding a baby girl in her bosom. The baby was crying incessantly. Her mother comforted her with tender voice, but the baby kept crying loudly. A Qing soldier by the prisoner carriage got angry, he lifted his leg and kicked the carriage. “Keep crying, keep crying,” he shouted, “Laozi [old man, referring to self] will kick you dead!” The baby was startled, she cried even louder.
There was a big house several dozen zhang away from the road, under the eaves of the house stood a middle-aged scholar and a boy about eleven or twelve. Seeing this situation, he could not help heaving a deep sigh, his eyes also turned red as he said, “Have mercy, have mercy!”
“Die die [pronounced ‘dee-eh’ – Dad],” the boy asked, “What crime have they committed?”
“What crime have they committed?” the scholar echoed, “Yesterday and this morning they already arrested more than thirty people, all are our Zhejiang’s famous intellectuals, each and every one is innocent and is only guilty by association.” When he said the four words ‘innocent, guilty by association’ [wu gu zhu lian], he lowered his voice considerably, afraid that the officers and men escorting the prisoner carriages would hear it.
The boy said, “That little baby girl is still sucking the breast, could it be that she also committed the same crime? Really does not make any sense.”
The scholar scholar said, “You understand that the officers and men do not make any sense, you are a really good child. Ay, people are the sacrifical knife and altar, we are the fish and the meat; people are the [tree-legged] cauldron, we are the elk!”
“Die,” he boy said, “Just a few days ago you taught me that the phrase ‘people are the sacrifical knife and altar, we are the fish and the meat’ carries the meaning that people behead, cut and massacre us. Others are the cutting cleaver, the hot iron plate, and we are the fish, the meat. These few words ‘People are the cauldron, we are the elk’, is the meaning also more or less the same?”
“Exactly!” the scholar replied. Seeing the officers and men, along with the prisoner carriages have already far away, he pulled the boy’s hand and said, “It’s too windy outside, let us go back into the house.” Right away father and son entered the study room.
The scholar picked up a writing brush and dipped it into the ink, and then he wrote a character ‘deer’ on a piece of paper. He said, “This beast, the deer, although they are huge, their temper is extremely gentle, they only eat grass and leaves, they never harm other animals. When the fierce animals want to harm them, eat them, they can only run. If they cannot run, then they will be eaten by others.”
And then he wrote two more characters ‘zhu lu’ [pursue the deer, fig. to vie for supremacy], and said, “For this reason the ancients often used the deer as a metaphor of the world. Common people on the earth are all docile, good and honest; their allotted share in life is only to be bullied and slaughtered by others. The ‘History of Han Dynasty’ says, ‘Qin lost its deer, people all over the world chase after it.’ What it means is that the Qin Dynasty lost the world, the heroes rose together, everybody fought over, finally Han Gaozu defeated Chu Bawang [overlord/hegemon Chu], and thus he obtained this big and fat deer.”
The boy nodded and said, “I understand. There is a novel talking about ‘hunting deer in the central plain’, the idea is that everybody struggle to become the Emperor.”
The scholar was delighted; he nodded repeatedly. He drew a picture of a cauldron on the paper and said, “When people of old cooked their food, they did not use pot on the stove, but used this kind of three-legged cauldron, with firewood underneath it. When they caught a deer, they cooked it in the cauldron and ate it. Emperors and high-ranking officials were very cruel, if they did not like someone, they would say that man committed a crime and boiled him alive in the cauldron. There is a written account in the ‘Record of the Grand Historian’ about Lin Xiangru saying to the King of Qin, ‘Chen [I, your servant; a minister referring to himself when talking to a ruler] is aware that I have offended the Great King and deserve to be punished by death, Chen asks for a cauldron.’ In other words, ‘I deserve to die, just burn me to death in a cauldron!’”
The boy said, “The novel often says, ‘to inquire of the cauldron’. This phrase seems to have more or less the same meaning as ‘hunting deer in the central plain’.”
“That’s right,” the scholar said, “King of Xia Yu collected metal from the nine divisions [of China during the earliest dynasties] and cast nine large cauldrons. At that time, the so-called ‘metal’ was actually copper. Each cauldron was cast with the names of the nine divisions and a map of the mountains and rivers. When later generations became the ruler of the world, they retained the nine cauldrons. The ‘Mr. Zuo’s Annals’ noted: ‘Viscount of Chu inspected his troops at the Zhou border. The present King sent the king’s grandson Man to console Viscount Chu. Viscount Chu inquired the size and weight of the cauldron.’ Only the ruler of the world can keep the nine cauldrons. The King of Chu was merely a feudal prince from the State of Chu, he inquired about the size and weight of the cauldron, it means he harbored intention to rebel, thinking of taking the King of Zhou’s position for himself.”
The boy said, “So ‘inquiring of the cauldron’ and ‘pursuing the deer’ means someone wanted to be the emperor. ‘Not knowing to whom the deer falls’ means not knowing who might become the emperor.”
“Exactly,” the scholar said, “Later on, ‘inquiring of the cauldron’ and ‘pursuing the deer’, four characters [wen ding, zhu lu] can also be used elsewhere, but the original idea was pointing especially to one who wanted to be the emperor.” Speaking to this point, he sighed and said, “We as the common people are always at the death’s door. ‘Not knowing to whom the deer falls’ simply say that nobody knows who would kill the deer, but this deer is bound to die.”
Finished speaking, he walked over to the window and looked out. He saw the sky was overcast, apparently it was going to snow. He sighed and said, “Why is Laotianye [God/Heaven] so heartless? Several hundred innocent people walk on this ice and frost covered earth, when the snow falls, it will add to their torment.”
Suddenly he saw on the southern end of the main road two men wearing conical bamboo hat, walking side by side to this direction. When they were near, he could recognize their faces. The scholar was delighted; he said, “Your Huang Bobo [father’s elder brother] and Gu Bobo are here!” Quickly he went outside to meet them; he called out, “Lizhou Xiong [brother, generic term], Tinglin Xiong, which good wind has blown the two of you to honor me with your presence?”
The man on the right was short and stout, his chin was covered in black beard; his surnamed was Huang, given name Zongxi, alias Lizhou [lit. pear island], a native of Yuyao [county level city in Ningbo], Zhejiang. The one on the left was slim and tall, his face dark, surnamed Gu, given name Yanwu, alias Tinglin [lit. pavilion forest], a native of Kunshan [county level city, Suzhou], Jiangsu. Huang and Gu, two people were great scholars of the present age. After the Ming [dynasty] perished, their hearts were broken over the changes to their country, they went to live in seclusion and quit their official posts; this day they ‘join sleeves’ to uphold virtue.
Gu Yanwu walked several steps closer before saying, “Wancun [lit. evening village] Xiong, there is an urgent business we need to discuss with you.”
The scholar was surnamed Lu, given name Liuliang, his nickname was Wancun; in all his life he resided in Chongde County of Hangzhou Prefecture, Zhejiang. He was also a very famous hermit in the late Ming, early Qing dynasties. He noticed Huang and Gu, two men’s grim countenance; he also knew that Gu Yanwu was always very adaptable and was always calm in facing anything, therefore, when he said it was urgent, naturally it was indeed not a small matter. Cupping his fist, he said, “Gentlemen, please come in and drink three cups first to dissolve the cold air.”
Immediately he took the two men inside and ordered the boy, “Baozhong, tell your Niang [mother], Huang Bobo, Gu Bobo are here; cut two dishes of lamb in paste first to down the wine.”
Shortly afterwards, the boy, Lu Baozhong and his brother Yizhong came out with three sets of cups and chopsticks and arranged them on the study room’s table. An old servant came out with the food and drink. Lu Liuliang waited until the three people withdrew before he closed the study room’s door and said, “Huang Xiong, Gu Xiong, please drink three cups first!”
Huang Zongxi looked distressed; he shook his head. Gu Yanwu poured a drink for himself and downed six cups in one breath.
Lu Liuliang said, “Gentlemen came here this time, does it have something to do with the case of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’?”
“Exactly!” Huang Zongxi said.
Gu Yanwu picked up the wine cup and loudly moaned, “’Although cool breeze is fine, it cannot blow me, why can’t the bright moon illuminate people?’ Wancun Xiong, this poem of yours is indeed the most perfect song! Everytime I drink wine, I always recite this poem, and I am always moved big time.”
Lu Liuliang always had the old country in his heart, he was unwilling to take official post with the Qing dynasty. Local high-ranking government officials admired his reputation and sponsored and recommended him as the ‘mountain hermit’, to be recruited as official of the imperial court. Lu Liuliang adamantly refused. The local official did not dare to force him. Later on another high-ranking official sponsored and recommended him as the ‘profound scholar’. Lu Liuliang saw that if ke kept refusing, it would appear that he was disparaging and insulting the imperial court; inevitably he would bring the disaster of execution upon himself. Thereupon he shaved his head to become a fake Buddhist monk. The local officials saw his determination and henceforth no longer urging him to ‘leave the mountain’.
The poem about ‘cool breeze, bright moon’ was to mock the Manchurian Qing [lit. clear/cool] and cherish to memory of former Ming [lit. bright]. Although he did not dare to have it printed and circulated, it spread far and wide among the like-minded friends and colleagues, and this moment Gu Yanwu recited it again.
“Really good poem!” Huang Zongxi said, as he picked up the wine cup and downed it in one gulp.
“Gentlemen wrongly praised.” Lu Liuliang said.
Gu Yanwu looked up and saw a scroll of painting hanging on the wall, about five chi [Chinese foot, approx. 1/3 of a meter] tall, and almost a zhang [10 ft/3 meters] wide, a painting of a wide expanse of landscape. The brush stroke moved unhindered, the scene looked grand; he could not help but loudly shouted his praise. The painting only had four large characters on it, ‘ru ci jiang shan’ [lit. in this way the rivers and mountains; loosely translated: ‘this is our country’]. He said, “Looking at the brush stroke, it is Mr. Erzhan’s painting.”
“Exactly,” Lu Liuliang said. This ‘Erzhan’ was surnamed Zha, given name Shibao, a great painter of the late Ming, early Qing dynasties; he was also a good friend of Gu, Huang and Lu.
Huang Zongxi said, “This kind of good painting, how come there is no annotation?”
Lu Liuliang sighed and said, “This painting of Mr. Erzhan’s has a rather deep meaning. Only he is a very staid and prudent man; since he did not put any signature on it, he did not put any annotation either. He stayed in my humble abode last month, for a short while he was happy and painted this for me. How about the two gentlemen inscribe several sentences on it?”
Gu and Huang, two men stood up and walked over to have a closer look at the painting. They saw the grand river flowing expansively to the east, with countless ridges and peaks on both sides, sprinkled with wonderful trees and strange rock formations. Only the scenery was covered in a mist; although the mountains and the rivers were beautiful, there was a sense of dismal feeling deep in the hearts of the people who look at it.
Gu Yanwu said, “This beautiful land sinks into oblivion in the hands of barbarians. Our generation submit to humiliation and live without purpose; it’s really stuffing our breasts with grieve and indignation. Wancun Xiong, if it is not inconvenient, why don’t you inscribe a poem to display Mr. Erzhan’s meaning?”
“Alrght!” Lu Liuliang said. Immediately he took down the painting and spread it out on the table. Huang Zongxi ground the ink. Lu Liuliang pondered deeply for half a day, and then his brush started to dance on the painting. In a short time it was finished:
“Is it the Song (dynasty) crossing to the south? In this way the rivers and mountains are in disgrace. Is it after the cliff of the mountain? In this way the rivers and mountains cannot bear to look at. Only today I comprehend the meaning of the painting, weeping bitter tears seems the right thing to do. Because today I looked at former times just like now, swallowing my cries need not bridle my mouth. The painting spread on the table is a western platform for tears, delving deeply into the picture taking up my pen brightly and brilliantly. Therefore, a picture without poetry and literatture, poetry and literature being exhausted in just four characters. Once grew accustomed to come across the beginning of Hong Wu, as if undiscerning, ignorant pupil of the eye and the lame able to tread on. Mountains and rivers clear up, the former wall completed, how can looking at scenic place not bring ecstasy?”
The poem completed, he tossed the brush to the floor and burst into tears.
Gu Yanwu said, “Delightfully uninhibited. It is indeed an exquisitely good ballad.”
“This poem is not subtle at all,” Lu Liuliang said, “It can’t be considered good, I was merely spelling out Mr. Erzhan’s original idea, so that people who look at the painting may know.”
Huang Zongxi said, “When the former country will repeat its light, that is ‘mountains and rivers clear up, the former wall completed’. Even thought it was full of barren hills and treacherous rapids, those who look at it will have their bosom greatly free; it is indeed ‘how can looking at scenic place not bring ecstasy?’”
 Posthumous name of the first Han Emperor Liu Bang (256 or 247 – 195BC, reigned 202-195BC).
 ‘Alias’ – my dictionary gives this explanation: ‘courtesy or style name traditionally given to males age twenty in dynastic China’.
 Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), late Ming/early Qing Confucian philosopher, linguist and historian, played a founding role in phonology of early Chinese, author of ‘Record of Daily Study’. Huang Zongxi (1610-1695), scholar and writer of the Ming-Qing transition.
 Emperor Hong Wu, regnal name of first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), reigned 1386-1398). Temple name Ming Taizu.
Last edited by foxs; 01-29-13 at 12:18 PM.
Was Chapter 48 the last chapter? It had a note of finality to it.
Thanks for seeing this through Fox. I check this thread on a daily basis (except weekends and holidays) so I definitely appreciate your effort.
HK47: Now do you understand the travails of my existence master? Surely it does not compare to your existence but still...
You: I survive somehow
HK47: As do I. It is our lot in life I suppose master. Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?
Thanks Foxs....You have come so far and and the ending line is in sight.
No I doubt you will desert us at this moment.....it's easy for us to say and it's been a real challenge for you to come this far.
Do you need Malaysian Famous coffee to keep you awake ? Just pm me your address and I'll send you some.. ( btw I just made some ....it's 3 in one, Ipoh Old Town white Coffee. ) ...at least I have your works to keep me pepped up.
Darkcser, last chapter is 50; please see last previous posts for more explanation. Crazee, are you serious? I'd love to get some ... but the shipping will be too expensive. Thanks for the thought. Anh, Gubrak, thank you for staying with me. Sorry for the delay this time, been busy, will try to catch up this weekend.
Gu Yanwu said, “This poem is written very well! There will come a day when the barbarians will be driven out and taken captives, and our great Han’s mountains and rivers will be restored. Compared to believers like us pouring out grief and indignation, the people’s spirit will be even more strengthened.”
Huang Zongxi slowly rolled the painting and said, “This painting can’t be hung anymore, Wancun Xiong must hide it well. Supposing crafty scoundrel like Wu Zhirong saw it, the authorities will investigate, while admittedly Wancun Xiong will be inconvenienced, Mr. Erzhan will be weighed down as well.”
Gu Yanwu slapped the table and cursed, “That dog thief Wu Zhirong, I really wish I could eat his meat raw.”
Lu Liuliang said, “Gentlemen are neglecting the urgent matter you mentioned earlier. We, the scholars, fall into an old habit, composing poem and inscribing painting, and put aside proper business. I wonder what is it?”
Huang Zongxi said, “This time the two of us came, it was for the sake of Mr. Erzhan’s distant relative [of the same surname], Mr. Yihuang. The day before yesterday Xiaodi [little brother, referring to self] and Gu Xiong received news that in this big case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, unexpectedly Mr. Yihuang is also implicated.”
Lu Liuliang was alarmed. “Yihuang Xiong is implicated?” he asked.
“That’s right,” Huang Zongxi said, “The day before yesterday the two of us rushed toward Yuanhua town in Haining [county, Jiaxing, Zhejiang], but Mr. Yihuang was not home at all, they said he was out to visit a friend. Seeing the urgency of the situation, Yanwu Xiong hastily urged Mr. Yihuang’s household to go into hiding that very same night. Remembering Mr. Yihuang and Wancun Xiong are good friends, we came with the specific purpose to inquire of you.”
Lu Liuliang said, “He … he did not come here. I don’t know where he went.”
Gu Yanwu said, “If he was in your respected residence, he would have come out already to meet us. I already inscribed a poem on the wall of his study room, if he came back home, he would have understood and hastened to go into hiding. What I am afraid of is that the did not hear the news and appeared in public, then the authority would arrest him; it would be terrible.”
Huang Zongxi said, “In this case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, nearly all our western Zhejiang’s famous scholars have met with evil scheme. The Qing court’s intention is really vicious, Wancun Xiong’s fame is really too great, Tinglin Xiong and Xiaodi’s thought is that we want to urge Wancun Xiong to leave home and travel far for the time being, to take shelter from the wind.”
Lu Liuliang indignantly said, “If the Tatar Emperor arrest me and take me to Beijing, I don’t care if he makes mincemeat out of me, in any case I will be able to curse him a bit to vent this resentment in my chest, and then I’ll die without a moment’s hesitation.”
Gu Yanwu said, “Wancun Xiong’s heroism reaching to the clouds, you make other people filled with admiration. I am afraid you will not see the Tatar Emperor but will die under some lowly slaves’ hands. Furthermore, the Tatar Emperor is only a child, he doesn’t understand anything, the political power of the imperial court is entirely in the powerful minister Oboi’s hands. Xiongdi and Lizhou Xiong reckon that this time the case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ is exposed with great fanfare, it passes like thunder and moves like the wind, it is because Oboi wants to dampen our Jiangnan scholars’ spirit.”
Lu Liuliang said, “Gentlemen’s view is correct. Ever since the Qing troops entered the Pass, they went on the rampage in Jiangbei [area north of the River] unhindered, as soon as they came to Jiangnan, they encountered resistance everywhere, particularly the intellectuals who know how to guard against Chinese-Barbarian relationship, constantly giving them trouble. Oboi is seizing this opportunity to suppress us, Jiangnan scholars. Humph, even a prairie fire cannot destroy the grass, it grows again when the breeze blows; unless he wipes out us all, Jiangnan intellectuals.”
“That’s right,” Huang Zongxi said, “For this reason we want to retain useful people to deal with the Tatars to the end. If we flaunt our blood and vital breath and show bravery for a period of time, we will fall prey to Tatars’ scheme.”
Lu Liuliang understood immediately, Huang and Gu two people braved the cold, one was to look for Zha Yihuang, two was to urge him to flee; they were afraid he might not be unable to hold back and thus would deliver his life in vain. Good friends made painstaking effort, he was deeply grateful. “Gentlemen’s gems of wisdom, how can Xiongdi dare not to follow?” he said, “Early in the morning tomorrow Xiongdi’s entire family will leave.”
Huang and Gu, two people were greatly delighted. “That is only proper,” they both said.
Lu Liuliang hesitantly said, “But I don’t know where should I go?” He felt that in the boundless horizon, everywhere was the Tatars’ world; there was really not a single clean soil. “Where is Taoyuan [the Garden of the Peaches of Immortality] that I can escape from cruel Qin? Where is Taoyuan that I can escape from cruel Qin?” he muttered irresolutely.
Gu Yanwu said, “In the world today, if there really exists Taoyuan paradise, we still cannot liberate ourselves and go into hiding …”
Without waiting for him to finish, Lu Liuliang slapped the table and stood up; he said in a loud voice, “Tinglin Xiong’s reprimand this time is so true, the rise and fall of the nation concerns everyone, we can temporarily flee from disaster, but if we hide in Peach Flower Garden, freely and leisurely, while the millions and millions common people suffer under the Tatars’ iron hoof, how can our hearts be at peace? Xiongdi has a slip of the tongue.”
Gu Yanwu smiled and said, “In recent years Xiongdi has roamed far and wide, I indeed make not a few friends. On both sides of the Great River, as far as I can see and hear, not only the intellectuals are opposing the Tatars, even peddlers and carriers, butchers and marketplace people, everywhere people’s hearts are filled with hot blooded heroic spirit. If Wancun Xiong so desires, the three of us can go to Yangzhou together. How about Xiongdi introduce you to several kindred spirits?”
Lu Liuliang was greatly delighted. “Wonderful, wonderful!” he exclaimed, “Tomorrow all of us are going to Yangzhou. Gentlemen please sit back and relax, Xiongdi is going to inform my humble wife, let her pack.” Finished speaking he hurried inside.
Shortly afterwards Lu Liuliang returned to the study room and said, “About the case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, although there are rumors everywhere on the outside, but one, rumors are not necessarily true, two, people are in a lot of apprehensions, they do not dare to speak everything openly. Xiongdi lives alone in a snail’s home, I do not know the details; what exactly was the cause?”
Gu Yanwu sighed and said, “This book the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, all of us have seen it. The content is not too respectful toward the Tatars, that much is true. This book originated from our Great Ming’s Prime Minister Zhu Guozhen’s hands. Speaking about establishing an administrative division outside the Pass; how can it be polite toward the Tatars?”
Lu Liuliang nodded and said, “I heard the Zhuang family of Huzhou has spent several thousand taels of silver to buy the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ manuscript from Prime Minister Zhu’s later generations’ hands to be published; unexpectedly it brewed this kind of catastrophe.”
Western Zhejiang’s Hangzhou, Jiaxing, and Huzhou, three prefectures were located on the bank of Lake Tai, the land was flat, the soil fertile, abound in rice and natural silk. Huzhou prefecture’s principal county magistrate is known as Wuxing County today, during the Qing dynasty, it was divided into Wu Cheng and Gui An, two counties. From the beginning its literary style was extremely flourishing, people of talents and scholars of successive generations came forth in large numbers. During the Liang period, Shen Yue [441-513, writer and historian] divide the Chinese characters into four tones, namely level or even tone, third tone, fourth tone and entering tone. During the Yuan era, painting and calligraphy reached its best quality in Zhao Mengfu’s work. These were all Huzhou natives. Writing brush produced locally was well-known; Huzhou’s writing brush, Huizhou’s ink, Xuancheng’s paper, and Zhaoqing Duanxi’s [lit. end/extremity creek of Zhaoqing] ink-stone were famous all over the world as the ‘Four Treasures of the Study’.
There was a city in Huzhou prefecture called Nanxun. Although it was a small town, it was bigger than ordinary county capitals. There were a lot of rich families in town, among the famous rich families and big clans, there was one family by the surname of Zhuang. By this time the head of the Zhuang household was called Zhuang Yuncheng. He had several sons; the oldest was called Tinglong, who loved literature since his childhood, and had made quite a number of friends among famous and gifted scholars of Jiangnan. During the Shunzhi years [second Qing emperor, 1644-1662], due to excessive reading, Zhuang Tinglong suddenly went blind. Famous doctors were searched, but no one was able to cure him; since then he grew melancholy and was depressed.
One day suddenly a young man surnamed Zhu from their neighborhood came with a manuscript, saying that it was his paternal grandfather, Prime Minister Zhu’s bequeathed draft that he wanted to mortgage to the Zhuang family, begging to borrow several hundred taels of silver. The Zhuang family was usually generous; they always showed consideration to Prime Minister Zhu’s later generations. Since he came to borrow money, they agreed immediately, without asking any surviving manuscript as collateral. But the young man surnamed Zhu said that after receiving the money, he was going on a journey to a distant land; if he carried his ancestor’s manuscript with him, he was afraid it would get lost, while he did not feel at ease to leave it at home, therefore, he wanted to keep it in the Zhuang family. Zhuang Yuncheng agreed.
After the young man surnamed Zhu left, to relieve his son’s boredom, Zhuang Yuncheng had the guests who settled in his house to read it aloud to him. For the most part, Zhu Guozhen’s manuscript of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ had been published and was widely available. This time the manuscript that his grandson brought to the Zhuang family to be mortgaged was actually the last of many articles of historical biography.
After listening to the guest [see footnote] reading for several days, Zhuang Tinglong was very interested. Suddenly he remembered, “In the past Zuo Qiuming [556-451 BC], who was also a blind man, was able to write ‘Mr. Zuo’s Annals’ and hence enjoy the benefit of great name for a thousand years. Today I am blind and bored of staying idle at home, why not composing a history book to be circulated to the later generations?”
For rich families, everything was easy. Since he had the desire to do this, immediately he hired quite a few scholars to have the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ manuscript read to him from top to bottom. He considered which section needed to be expanded, and which section needed to be deleted; he recounted his thought orally and had the guests write it down. However, thinking that being blind he was incapable to extensively examine the written record, when this ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was finished and published, if there were a lot of errors in it, not only he would not enjoy the fame, he might be ridiculed instead. Thereupon he spent large quantities of money to employ many scholars who knew this subject very well, to amend and revise, to research this subject and bring the book to perfection. Some of the great scholars were people who could not be invited with wealth, Zhuang Tinglong passed this matter through many hands and humbly invited them. The banks of Lake Tai were always teeming with literary scholars, those who received the Zhuang family’s invitation, on one hand they took pity of the blind and was touched by his sincerity, on the other hand they believed that compiling the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was a beautiful thing. Most of them stayed in the Zhuang family’s home for ten days or half a month to work on the manuscript; some correcting the errors, some adding notes or even one or two sections. For this reason the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was definitely a collective power of not a few writing brushes of many great hands. Not long after the book was completed, Zhuang Tinglong passed away.
Grief-stricken by his beloved son’s death, Zhuang Yuncheng immediately published the book. Publishing books during the Qing dynasty was really not easy, one must recruit artisans to engrave wood blocks one by one before printing the book. This book ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was voluminous, the cost to hire the engravers and the printers was considerable. Fortunately the Zhuang family had plenty of money, they set aside several large houses as factories and invited many artisans. Several years later the books and publications were completed.
The book was titled ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’, with Zhuang Tinglong listed as the compiler, famous scholar Li Lingxi was asked to write the preface. All scholars who have helped with this project were also listed: Mao Yuanxi, Wu Zhiming, Wu Zhirong [different characters from Wu Zhirong mentioned by Huang Zongxi and Gu Yanwu above], Li Qitao, Mao Cilai, Wu Chu, Tang Yuanlou, Yan Yunqi, Jiang Linzhi, Wei Jinyou, Wei Yiyuan, Zhang Juan, Dong Eryou, Wu Yan, Pan Chengzhang, Lu Qi, Zha Jizuo, Fan Xiang; eighteen people altogether. The book also mentioned that the content was based on Zhu clan’s manuscript, which was expanded and deleted. However, Zhu Guozhen was a prime minister of the Ming Dynasty, his fame was too great, it was unsuitable to mention his full name; therefore, it was mentioned vaguely as ‘Zhu Clan’s manuscript’.
Having undergone so many scholars composing, verifying and revising, the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ had a very exquisite style, its coverage was comprehensive and clear, the script was magnificent, the layout was in good taste; its publication has garnered praise from literary community. The Zhuang family’s aspiration was to become famous, the books were sold at a very inexpensive price.
When the manuscript touched upon Manchuria, there were originally not a few of criticism and exposures of past misdeeds, which the editors had already deleted one by one, but sentences showing approval to the Ming Dynasty were inevitable. At that time the Ming had not fallen for too long, the intellectuals still cherished the memory of their former country; as soon as the book went into publication, it immediately reached best-seller status, Zhuang Tinglong’s name was buzzing north and south of the Great River. Despite the pain of the death of his son, seeing his son became famous after his death, Zhuang Yuncheng’s old heart was greatly comforted.
Troubled times are when lowly people accomplish their ambition, while people of noble character meet calamity. The county head magistrate of Huzhou’s Gui An County was one surnamed Wu, given name Zhirong, who committed corruption and abuse of the law during his tenure. Common people gnashed their teeth in anger toward him, eventually someone lodged an accusation and the imperial court had him deposed.
Although when he was the county head magistrate of Gui An, Wu Zhirong raked in more than ten thousand taels, during the court proceeding and investigation of his disposal, he bribed to the east and sent a gift to the west, spending money everywhere to avoid being searched and his possession confiscated, these ten thousand taels booty were obliterated completely, even the people in his household left him, their whereabouts unknown.
 I seem to remember reading about rich families in ancient China who had guests staying in their homes for an extended period of times. Interestingly, Bing Translator gives this definition: protégés of the powerful who stay with their benefactors like parasites.
Thanks foxs I see why you waited so long to do the first chapter. It is not so boring with a little background from the rest of the book.
Agree with Anh Nam. After knowing about the Zhuang family's horrible massacre and the deaths of so many scholars, makes me appreciate ch 1 better. Shuang’er is one of my fav characters in the story, so I am now more interested in the background of the Ming Compilation book.
Anh, Tweety,actually, the reason has nothing to do with it, please see page 1 of this thread. However, I can see what you are talking about, and I agree: knowing the following story does help in enjoying this chapter.
With his official post and his wealth gone, he had no choice but to go from house to house to seek gratuitous financial help, saying that he was a just and honest official who had fallen hard and lost his post, that he did not even have enough travel expenses and was incapable of embarking on the journey home. Some rich people simply wanted to avoid trouble and gave him ten taels or eight taels. When he got to the rich Zhu family, the master of the home, Zhu Youming was an upright person of noble character who shunned evil. Not only he did not give him anything, he ruthlessly derided Wu Zhirong, saying that Sire took an official post in Huzhou, you have caused common people a great deal of hardship; even if I, the Ol’ Zhu, have some money, I would rather donate it to the poor people who suffer under Sire’s administration.
Although Wu Zhirong was enraged, he was incapable of lashing it out. Since he was already deposed, he had no power and no influence; how could he take a case against a rich and powerful family? Thereupon he paid a visit to Zhuang Yuncheng. Zhuang Yuncheng usually made friends with impoverished scholars, but he looked down upon corrupt official like this. Seeing his arrival and request, he laughed coldly and gave him a tael of silver, saying, “Based on Sire’s conduct, I should not have given you this tael, but common people of Huzhou are hoping Sire would leave, the sooner the better. If this tael can hasten your departure just a moment sooner, then it will be good.”
In his heart Wu Zhirong was extremely angry. Taking a glance he saw a copy of the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ lying on a table in the main hall; he thought, “This man surnamed Zhuang loves to hear flattery, as long as people praise this Ming History as such and such good, he will present shining white silver with both hands, no more knitting of his brows.” Thereupon he laughed and said, “Something that old gentleman Zhuang generously bestows, refusing it would be impolite. Today Xiongdi will leave Huzhou, what I regret the most is that I am not able to bring ‘Huzhou treasures’ with me, so that ignorant and inexperienced people of my humble hometown may greatly broaden their horizons.”
Zhuang Yuncheng asked, “What are ‘Huzhou treasures’?”
Wu Zhirong laughed and said, “Old gentleman Zhuang is too modest. Among the literary community, everybody says that your esteemed son, Tinglong Gongzi [young master] has personally composed that book the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’. In terms of historical talent, historical knowledge, historical composition, not a single one is not a rarity since the dawn of time. Zuo Ma Ban Zhuang, those are ancient and modern times’ four great historical experts. This ‘Huzhou treasure’ is naturally the book ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ your esteemed son personally composed.”
Hearing Wu Zhirong mentioned ‘your esteemed son personally composed’ in the front, another ‘your esteemed son personally composed’ at the end, Zhuang Yuncheng was bursting with joy. He was fully aware that this book was not really composed by his son, inevitably there was regret in the deepest part of his heart. By saying those words, Wu Zhirong had thrown himself in a favorable light. Zhuang Yuncheng thought, “People are saying that this man is greedy of bribes, is a dirty lowly person, but he is, after all, a scholar; contrary to what one might expect, he has some perspective. Turns out people on the outside call Long’er’s [‘dear Long’, referring to Zhuang Tinglong, term of endearment] book a ‘Huzhou treasure’. This is the first time I have ever heard it.” He could not refrain smile from appearing across his face. He said, “Old gentlemen Rong mentioned something about Zuo Ma Ban Zhuang, four great historical experts of ancient and modern times; Xiongdi does not understand, would you please give your advice?”
Seeing his expression softened considerably, Wu Zhirong knew his flattery had hit the target; he was secretly delighted. “Old gentleman Zhuang is rather too modest. Zuo Qiuming wrote ‘Mr. Zuo’s Annals’, Sima Qian [145-86 BC] wrote ‘Record of the Grand Historian’, Ban Gu [32-92] wrote ‘History of the Former Han Dynasty’. These are all widely-known masterpiece, which garnered thousand praises. After Ban Gu, there was no more great historian. Ouyang Xiu [1007-1072] wrote ‘History of the Five Dynasties’, Sima Guang [1019-1086] wrote ‘A mirror for the wise ruler’ [or ‘Comprehensive Mirror for aid in Government’]; although the writing was fine, in the end the ability and insight is rather lacking. Until our Great Qing’s flourishing period, your esteemed son personally composed this brilliant masterpiece ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’, which people say can run neck to neck with Zuo Qiuming, Sima Qian and Ban Gu, three qianbei [older generation], as the ‘four great historical experts’. The term ‘Zuo Ma Ban Zhuang’ came from this fact.”
With smiling expression across his face, Zhuang Yuncheng repeatedly cupped his fist and said, “Erroneous praise, erroneous praise! However, this term ‘Huzhou treasure’ is, after all, not worthy to be mentioned.”
With serious expression Wu Zhirong said, “What do you mean not worthy to be mentioned? People outside are saying, ‘Huzhou treasures are history, silk and writing brush’; isn’t Zhuang’s history ranked to be the first?”
Natural silk and writing brush were two famous products of Huzhou, although Wu Zhirong’s character was contemptible, he was still somewhat talented, and was able to speak like a printed book; he lumped ‘Zhuang History’ together with Huzhou’s silk and Huzhou’s writing brush, hearing it, Zhuang Yuncheng was even more delighted.
Wu Zhirong continued, “Xiongdi came to your precious place to take an official post, both sleeves flowing in the breeze [i.e. having clean hands/uncorrupted], gaining nothing. Today I am wearing my old face to ask Old gentleman Zhuang a copy of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, to be passed on as my family treasure. Someday my Wu family’s offsprings will read it day and night, certainly their imaginative power will greatly increased, they will bring honor to their ancestors. I am hoping for Old gentleman Zhuang’s generosity in bestowing one.”
Zhuang Yuncheng laughed and said, “Naturally I can give one as a present.”
Wu Zhirong talked several more sentences, but did not see Zhuang Yuncheng was about to take any action. Thereupon he launched another speech, giving great compliments to the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’. Actually, he had not even read one page of the book; therefore, how amazing this history book was, how beyond understanding the writing of this history book was, everything was not to the point, he merely talked drivel.
Zhuang Yuncheng said, “Old gentleman Rong, please sit back and relax.” And then he went into the inner hall.
After a good while, a manservant came out, holding a bundle with both hands, and put it down on the table. Seeing Zhuang Yuncheng did not come out, Wu Zhirong hurriedly weighed the bundle in his hand. Although the bundle was big, it was as light as a feather, apparently it contained no silver; in his heart he was quite disappointed.
Shortly afterwards, Zhuang Yuncheng returned to the main hall, he presented the bundle with both hands and said with a laugh, “Old gentleman Rong thinks much of our local products; hence I sincerely present this to you.”
Wu Zhirong thanked him and took his leave. Before he was even back at the inn, he reached into the bundle and groped around. What he found was one book, a bundle of natural silk, and several dozen of writing brushes. He wasted a lot of words, the idea was that other than the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ book, Zhuang Yuncheng would also give several hundred taels of silver, but the gifts were unexpectedly the crazy nonsense he invented, the so-called ‘Huzhou Three Treasures’. He cursed in his heart, “Damn it, these moneybags of Nanxun are all this stingy! But I did say the wrong thing; if I said the ‘Huzhou Three Treasures’ are gold, silver and the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, wouldn’t I have reaped great harvest?”
Still fuming, he returned to the inn and tossed the bundle to the table, and then he put his head down and slept. When he woke up, it was already dark, the inn’s dinnertime had passed. He did not want to order special dinner; with anxiety and hunger burning, he was tortured on both sides, and could not return to sleep. Thereupon he untied the bundle, opened up the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’, and started to read.
After reading several pages, he saw a glimmer of gold, a sheet of golden leaf suddenly appeared. Wu Zhirong’s heart was thumping wildly, he rubbed his eyes; but what was it if not a golden leaf? Trembling with excitement he shook the book and ten golden leaves came out, each sheet was at least five qian [1/10 of a tael], ten sheets of golden leaves equal to five tael of gold. At that time gold was precious, five taels of gold worth four hundred taels of silver. Wu Zhirong was unable to contain his joy; he thought, “This surnames Zhuang is indeed very sly, he is afraid that after getting this book I would casually toss it aside and would not even flip a single page, thereupon he hid golden leaves among the pages, so that those who read his son’s book would have the good fortune of finding the golden leaves. Right, I am going to read several sections, tomorrow I will drop in again, both to express my thanks for the gold, and to recite several paragraphs from the book, heap some more praise on it. If he is happy, maybe he would give me several more taels of gold.”
Thereupon he trimmed the oil lamp and flipped the pages to read. When he reached Emperor Wanli’s [1573-1619] fortieth year, the Later Jin dynasty’s Taizu [Great Ancestor, founder of a dynasty] Nurhachi succeeded the throne, the title of current dynasty was changed to Jin, establishing the primary ‘Mandate of Heaven’, suddenly his heart shivered, “Our Taizu establishing the primary in the year bingchen [53rd year of the 60-year cycle, i.e. 1616]. From that year on, we should not use Ming Dynasty’s Wanli era name anymore; it should be the Great Jin Mandate of Heaven’s primary year [first year of emperor’s reign].”
Thumbing through the book, he saw the dingmao [4th year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1627] year of Later Jin’s Taizu on the throne, the book still said ‘Ming’s Tianqi Emperor’s seventh year’, and not ‘Great Jin’s Tiancong’s first year’. In the bingzi [13th year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1636] year, Later Jin changed the title of the dynasty to Qing, and changed the Emperor’s reign title to Chongde. The book still said ‘Chongzhen’s ninth year’, and not ‘Great Qing’s Chongde’s first year’. In the jiashen [21st year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1644] year, the book said ‘Chongzhen seventeenth year’, and not ‘Great Qing’s Shunzhi’s first year’. Also, he could see that after the Qing troops entered the Pass, the book mention the yiyou [22nd year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1645] year as ‘Longwu’s first year’, the year dinghai [24th year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1647] was called ‘Yongli’s first year’. Longwu and Yongli were Ming Dynasty’s King Tang and King Gui’s era names, the authors of the book plainly called them ‘Ming Dynasty’ still, they did not consider the Qing Dynasty at all.
Reading to this point, he could not help slapping the table and shouted, “Rebellion, rebellion, this is an outrage!” This slap had caused the table to shake, the oil lamp fell down, the oil splashed his hand, as well as the lapel of his robe. In the dark, suddenly a bright idea occurred; he could not help feeling crazy with joy, “Isn’t this Laotianye giving me easy money? I can be promoted and gain wealth, all because of this.”
Thinking about this, he could not help shouting in joy. Suddenly he heard the inn worker banged the door, “Mister guest, mister guest, what happened?”
Wu Zhirong laughed and said, “Nothing!” Lighting the oil lamp, he flipped through the book again. He read all night until the rooster crowed in the morning, before he finally took off his clothes and went to bed. He found about seventy or eighty taboo words in the book, so that even in his dream he could not help giggling and laughing.
When dynasties changed, the current political ruler paid most attention to correct the era name. The biggest taboo was in speech and in writings, since the implication was that the people were still thinking about the previous dynasty. The narrative in the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ was about the Ming Dynasty, there was actually nothing out of ordinary of the usage of era name and calendar of the Ming Dynasty. However, during the time when it was a taboo, it could bring enormous disaster. Most of the scholars who participated in writing the history book only helped with several sections, they could not be expected to go through the entire book, while those who compiled the last few sections were the ones who hated the Qing Dynasty to the bones, naturally they would not be willing to use the Great Qing’s era names in the book. Zhuang Tinglong was a young master of a rich family, plus he was blind, unavoidably he was rather careless, so that in the end a lowly person was able to seize the opportunity to exploit the loopholes.
By noon the next day, Wu Zhirong took a boat to Hangzhou on the east. In the inn he wrote a report, which he delivered, along with the History of the Ming Dynasty, to General Songkui’s mansion. He expected that when Songkui received the report, he would be summoned for an interview. At that time the Manchurian Qing used to give generous reward to people who report treasons. By rendering this great merit, Wu Zhirong was expecting his former official post to be reinstated, perhaps he could even enjoy three grades promotion as well. Who would have thought that after waiting left and right at the inn, all the way to more than half a year, every day he went to the general’s mansion to make discreet inquiries, it was as if he had thrown a stone and saw it sank without a trace in the ocean? Later on even the doorkeeper reprimanded him severely and did not allow him to drop in and create a disturbance at the door anymore.
Wu Zhirong was extremely anxious; he was about to exhaust the money he obtained by exchanging the golden leaves Zhuang Yuncheng gave him, yet the accusation did not give him the least bit of result. He was distressed, but was also astonished. One day he wandered around the city of Hangzhou and happened to stroll by the door of Wen Tong Tang [lit. literary expert hall] bookstore. He walked in to browse and kill the long day. Seeing three copies of ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ on the shelf, he thought, “Could it be that the faults I found in the book are not enough to indict Zhuang Yuncheng? I’d better find some more treason and heresy writings and tomorrow write another report and deliver it to the general’s mansion.”
The inspector-general of Zhejiang at that time was a Han, but the general was a Manchu. He was afraid the inspector-general would not be willing to prosecute this literary case, hence he made up his mind to lodge the accusation to the Manchurian general.
He opened the book and only read several pages, and could not help but jumped in fright; he felt as if his entire body had just entered an icehouse. Momentarily he felt like stupid monk, unable to make any sense of the matter. He saw all the offending texts had disappeared completely from the book, from the Great Qing Taizu onward, the book used the Great Jin, Great Qing’s era name and calendar. As for exposing Jianzhou Guardian Commander-in-chief’s faults (a relative to the Manchurian Qing Emperor’s ancestor), as well as any reference to Longwu, Yongli, and others’ era name, not even a single character was left. But the text was strung together, the pages were clean, there was not a single trace of any alteration. How did they conjure this magic trick? It was indeed very strange.
 Tianqi Emperor, fifteenth Ming emperor Zhu Youxiao (1605-1627, reigned 1620-1627).
Wu XR, the scoundrel..... now I understand a bit more about him.
Errrr.... I don't think it's that expensive to send a pack of coffee to US. Just give me your address and I'll send you a pack....to see if you like it. Anyway I prefer it over the more expensive ones....I suppose it'll cost less than a cup of starbucks to post a pack to US, so it just like a cup of coffee on me heh heh heh.