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But this is certain; he will stand above
His fellows, herding not with common men.
Takes he the field, then is he bold in fight;
Would he a mansion build, a palace springs.
In all things great, his genius masters him.
And such was Tsʻao Ts'ao. He could never be
Obedient; he a rebel was, foredoomed.
He seized and ruled, but hungered for more power;
Became a prince, and still was not content.

And yet this man of glorious career
When gripped by sickness, wept as might a child.
Full well he knew, when on the bed of death,
That all is vanity and nothing worth.
His latest acts were kindly. Simple gifts
Of fragrant incense gave he to the maids.
Ah me!

The ancients' splendid deeds or secret thoughts
We may not measure with our puny rule.
But criticise them, pedants, as ye may

The mighty dead will smile at what you say. As Ts'ao Ts'ao breathed his last the whole of those present raised a great wailing and lamentation. The news was sent to the members of the family, the heir, Ts'ao Pei, the Marquis of Yenling, Ts'ao Chang, the Marquis of Lintzŭ, Ts'ao Chih, and the Marquis of Hsiaohuai, Ts'ao Hsiung. They wrapped the body in its shroud, enclosed it in a silver shell and laid it in a golden coffin, which was sent at once home to Yehchün.

The eldest son wept aloud at the tidings and went out with all his following to meet the procession and escort the body of his father into his home. The coffin was laid in a great hall beside the main building, and all the officials in deep mourning wailed in the hall.

Suddenly one stood out from the ranks of the mourners and said, “I would request the heir to cease lamentation for the dead and devote himself to the present needs of state.”

It was Ssúma Fu, and he continued, “The death of the prince will cause an upheaval in the empire, and it is essential that the heir should assume his dignity without loss of time. There is not mourning alone to be seen to."

The others replied. “The succession is settled, but the investiture can hardly proceed without the necessary edict. That must be secured.”

Said Ch'ên Chiao, who was President of the Board of War, "As the prince died away from home it may be that his favourite son will presume to succeed, and dangerous disputes will ensue.'

He slashed off the sleeves of his robe with a sword and shouted fiercely, "We will invest the prince forthwith, and any who do not agree let him be treated as this robe.'

Still fear held most of the assembly. Then arrived Hua Hsin post haste from the capital. They wondered what his sudden arrival meant. Soon he entered the hall and said,

"The Prince of Wei is dead and the world is in commotion; why do you not invest his successor quickly ?

“We await the command,” cried they in chorus, "and also the princess-consort's order concerning the heirship.”

"I have procured the Imperial edict here," cried he, pulling it out from his breast.

They all began to congratulate him. And he read the edict.

Hua Hsin had always been devoted to Wei, and so he drafted this edict and got it sealed by the Emperor Hsien almost by force. However, there it was; and therein Ts'ao P'ei was named as “Prince of Wei, First Minister of State and Governor of Ichou."

Ts'ao P'ei thereupon took his seat in the princely place and received the congratulations of all the officers. This was followed by a banquet.

However, all was not to pass too smoothly. While the banquet was in progress the news came that Ts'ao Chang, with an army of ten legions, was approaching.

In a state of consternation the new prince turned to his courtiers, saying "What shall I do? This young brother of mine, always obstinate and determined and with no little military skill, is marching hither with an army to contest my inheritance."

“Let me go to see the marquis; I can make him desist," said one of the guests.

The others cried, "Only yourself, O Exalted One, can save us in this peril!"

Quarrel 'tween two sons of Ts'ao

Just as in the House of Shao. If you would know who proposed himself as envoy, read the next chapter.



AN UNDUTIFUL NEPHEW: PUNISHMENT. All eyes turned toward the speaker, the high officer of state Chia Kʻuei, and the young prince commanded him to undertake the mission. So he went out of the city and sought to speak with Ts'ao Chang. Ts'ao Chang came quickly to the point.

“Who has the late prince's seal ?” asked he.

Chia Kʻuei replied calmly, “There is an eldest son to a house, and an heir-apparent to a state. Such a question from you is unbecoming, O Marquis.”

The marquis held his peace, and the two proceeded into the city to the gates of the palace. There Chia K'uei suddenly asked him whether he came as a mourner or as a rival claimant.

I am come as a mourner; I never had any ulterior motive." “That being so, why bring in your soldiers ?”

Whereupon Ts'ao Chang ordered his escort to retire, and entered the city alone. When the brothers met they fell into each other's arms and wept. Then the younger brother yielded command of all his following, and he was directed to go back to Yenling and guard it. He obediently withdrew.

Ts'ao P'ei, being now firmly established, changed the name of the period of his rule to Yen-K'ang, “Prolonged Repose.” He gave high rank to Chia Hsü, Hua Hsin and Wang Lang, and made many promotions. To the late prince he gave the posthumous title of Wu Wang, “Prince of War," and buried him in Kaoling. To the superintendence of the building of his tomb he nominated Yü Chin, but with malevolent intent. For when Yü Chin reached his post he found the walls of the rooms decorated with chalk sketches depicting the drowning of his army and the capture of himself by Kuan Yü. Kuan Yü was looking very dignified and severe. Pang Tê was refusing to bow to the victor, while he himself was lying in the dust pleading for his life.

Ts'ao P'ei had chosen this method of putting Yü to open shame because he had not preferred death to the dishonour of capture, and had sent an artist on purpose to depict the shameful scenes. When Yü Chin saw them, shame and rage alternately took possession of him till he fell ill. Soon after he died.

War waged he for many a year,
Yet fell prey to craven fear.
None can know another's heart,

Drawing tigers, with bones start. Soon after the accession, Hua Hsin memorialised, saying, “The Marquis of Yenling has cut himself loose from his army and gone quietly to his post, but your other two brothers did not attend the funeral of their father. Their conduct should be enquired into and punished."

Ts'ao P'ei took up the suggestion and sent a commissioner to each. He who was sent to the younger quickly returned to say that the Marquis of Hsiaohuai had committed suicide rather than suffer for his fault. P'ei ordered honourable burial for him and gave him the posthumous title of "Prince."

Soon after, the envoy to Lintzŭ returned to report that the marquis was spending his time in dissipation, his especial boon companions being two brothers named Ting. They had been very rude.

When the envoy had presented himself, the marquis had sat bolt upright, but would not say a word. Ting I had used insulting words.

"The late prince intended our lord to succeed, but was turned therefrom by the slanderous tongues of certain among you. As soon as he is dead your master begins to think of punishment for his own flesh and blood."

The other brother said, "In intellect our lord leads the age, and he ought to have been heir to his father. Now, not only does he not succeed, but he is treated in this harsh way by a lot of court persons of your sort, ignorant of what genius means.

And then the marquis, in a fit of anger, had ordered his lictors to beat the envoy and turn him out.

This treatment of his messenger annoyed Ts'ao P'ei greatly, and he despatched a force under Hsü Chu to arrest his brother and all his immediate surroundings. When Hsü Chu arrived he found the marquis and all his companions dead drunk; so he bound them, put them into carts and sent them to court. He also arrested all the officers of the palace.

Ts'ao P'ei's first order was to put to death the two brothers Ting. The two brothers were not wholly base; they had a reputation for learning, and many were sorry for them.

Ts'ao P'ei's mother, the Lady P'ien, was alarmed at the severity of the new rule, and the suicide of her youngest son wounded her deeply. When she heard that Ts'ao Chih had been arrested and his comrades put to death, she left her palace and went to see her eldest son. As soon as he saw her, the prince hastened to meet her. She began to weep.

"Your brother has always had that weakness for wine, but we let him go his way out of consideration for his undoubted ability. I hope you will not forget he is your brother and

that I bore you both. Spare his life that I may close my eyes in peace when I set out for the deep springs."

"I also admire his ability, mother, and have no intention to hurt him. But I would reform him. Have no anxiety as to his fate.”

So the mother was comforted and withdrew. The prince then went to a private room and bade them call his brother.

Said Hua Hsin, "Surely the princess-mother has just been interceding for your brother; is it not so ?

"It is so,” replied the prince.

“Then let me say that he is too clever to be content to remain in a humble station. If you do not remove him he will do you harm.”

"I must obey my mother's command."

"People say your brother simply talks in literature. I do not believe it myself, but he might be put to the test. If he bears a false reputation you can slay him; if what they say is true, then degrade him, lest the scholars of the land should babble."

Soon Ts'ao Chih came, and in a state of great trepidation bowed low before his elder brother, confessing his fault.

The prince addressed him, saying, "Though we are brothers, yet the proper relation between us of prince and minister must not be overlooked. Why then did you behave indecorously? While the late prince lived you made a boast of your literary powers, but I am disposed to think you may have made use of another's pen. Now I require you to compose a poem within the time taken to walk seven paces, and I will spare your life if you succeed. If you fail, then I shall punish you with rigour."

"Will you suggest a theme?" asked Chih.

Now there was hanging in the hall a black and white sketch of two bulls that had been fighting at the foot of a wall, and one of them had just fallen dead into a well. Ts'ao P'ei pointed to the sketch and said, “Take that as the subject. But you are forbidden to use the words 'two bulls, one bull, fighting, wall's foot, falling, well and dead.'” Ts'ao Chih took seven paces and then recited this poem :

Two butcher's victims lowing walked along,

Each head bore curving bones, a sturdy pair,
They met just by a hillock, both were strong,

Each would avoid a pit new digged there.
They fought unequal battle, for at length

One lay below a gory mass, inert.
'Twas not that they were of unequal strength,

Though wrathful both, one did not strength exert. This exhibition of skill amazed the prince and the whole court. Ts'ao P'ei thought he would use another test, so he bade his brother improvise on the theme of their fraternal

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