Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 118


Weeping At The Ancestral Temple, A Filial Prince Dies;
Marching To The West River Land, Two Leaders Competes.

The news of the fall of Mianzhu and the deaths in battle of Zhuge Zhan and Zhuge Shang, father and son, brought home to the Latter Ruler that danger was very near, and he summoned a council.

Then the officials said, “Panic has seized upon the people, and they are leaving the city in crowds. Their cries shake the very sky!”

Sorely he felt his helplessness. Soon they reported the enemy were actually near the city, and many courtiers advised flight.

“We do not have enough troops to protect the capital. Leave the city and flee south to the seven counties of Nanzhong,” said they. “The country is difficult and easily defended. We can get the Mangs to come and help us.”

But Minister Qiao Zhou opposed, saying, “No, no, that will not do. The Mangs are old rebels. To go to them would be a calamity.”

Then some proposed seeking refuge in Wu: “The people of Wu are our sworn allies, and this is a moment of extreme danger. Let us go thither.”

But Qiao Zhou also opposed this, saying, “In the whole course of past ages no emperor has ever gone to another state. So far as I can see, Wei will presently absorb Wu, and certainly Wu will never overcome Wei. Imagine the disgrace of becoming a minister of Wu and then having to style yourself minister of Wei. It would double the mortification. Do neither. Surrender to Wei, and Wei will give Your Majesty a strip of land where the ancestral temple can be preserved, and the people will be saved from suffering. I desire Your Majesty to reflect well upon this.”

The distracted Latter Ruler retired from the council without having come to any decision. Next day confusion had become still worse. Qiao Zhou saw that matters were very urgent and presented a written memorial. The Latter Ruler accepted it and decided to yield.

But from behind a screen stepped out the fifth of the Emperor’s sons, Liu Chan, Prince of Beidi.

Liu Chan shouted at Qiao Zhou, “You corrupt pedant, unfit to live among people! How dare you offer such mad advice in a matter concerning the existence of a dynasty? Has any emperor ever yielded to the enemy?”

The Latter Ruler had seven sons in all—Liu Rui, Liu Dao, Liu Zhong, Liu Zan, Liu Chan, Liu Xue, and Liu Ju. But the ablest, and the only one above the common level of people, was this Liu Chan.

The Latter Ruler turned feebly to his son and said, “The ministers have decided otherwise: They advise surrender. You are the only one who thinks that boldness may avail, and would you drench the city in blood?”

The Prince said, “While the First Ruler lived, this Qiao Zhou had no voice in state affairs. Now he gives this wild advice and talks the most subversive language. There is no reason at all in what he says, for we have in the city many legions of soldiers, and Jiang Wei is undefeated in Saber Pass. He will come to our rescue as soon as he knows our straits, and we can help him to fight. We shall surely succeed. Why listen to the words of this dryasdust? Why abandon thus lightly the work of our great forerunner?”

The Latter Ruler became angry at this harangue and turned to his son, saying, “Be silent! You are too young to understand Heaven’s will!”

Liu Chan beat his head upon the ground and implored his father to make an effort.

“If we have done our best and defeat yet comes, if parents and children, lords and ministers have set their backs to the wall and died in one final effort to preserve the dynasty, then in the shades of the Nine Golden Springs we shall be able to look the First Ruler in the face, unashamed. But what if we surrender?”

The appeal left the Latter Ruler unmoved.

The Prince cried, “Is it not shameful in one day to throw down all that our ancestors built up with so great labor? I would rather die.”

The Latter Ruler, now very angry, bade the courtiers thrust the young man out of the Palace. Then he ordered Qiao Zhou to prepare the formal Act of Surrender. After it had been written, three officers—Adviser Zhang Shao, Imperial Son-in-Law Commander Deng Liang, and Minister Qiao Zhou—were sent with it and the Hereditary Seal to the camp of Deng Ai to offer submission.

Every day Deng Ai’s horsemen rode to the city to see what was afoot. It was a glad day when they returned reporting the hoisting of the flag of surrender. The general had not long to wait. The three messengers soon arrived and presented the letter announcing surrender and the seal therewith. Deng Ai read the letter with great exultation, and took possession of the seal. He treated the envoys courteously, and by their hands sent back a letter to allay any anxiety among the people. In due time they reentered the city and bore this missive to the Latter Ruler, and they told him they had been treated well. The Latter Ruler read the letter with much satisfaction. Then he sent Minister Jiang Xian to order Jiang Wei to surrender.

Then Li Hu, Chair of the Secretariat, carried to the victorious Deng Ai the statistical documents of the resources of the kingdom:

2,800,000 households, 9,140,000 souls, 102,000 active armed soldiers of all ranks, and 40,000 civil employees. Besides, there were granaries with 4,000,000 carts of grain, treasuries with 3,000 pounds of gold and silver and 200,000 rolls of silks of many qualities, and many unenumerated but precious things in the various storehouses.

Li Hu arranged that the ceremony of surrender should take place on the first day of the twelfth month.

The wrath of Prince Liu Chan swelled high as heaven when he heard that his father had actually arranged the date of his abdication.

Girding on his sword, he was setting out for the Palace when his Consort, Lady Cui, stopped him, saying, “My Prince, why does your face bear this look of terrible anger?”

He replied, “The army of Wei is at the gates, and my father has made his Act of Surrender. Tomorrow he and all his ministers are going out of the city to submit formally, and the dynasty will end. But rather than bow the knee to another, I will die and go into the presence of the First Ruler in the realms below.”

“How worthy; how worthy!” replied she. “And if my lord must die, I, thy handmaid, prays that she may die first. Then may my Prince depart.”

“But why should you die?”

“The Prince dies for his father and the handmaid for her husband. One eternal principle guides us all.”

Thereupon she dashed herself against a pillar, and so she died. Then Liu Chan slew his three sons and cut off the head of his Consort that he might sever all ties to life lest he be tempted to live. Bearing the head of the princess in his hand, he went to the Temple of the First Ruler, where he bowed his head, saying, “Thy servant is ashamed at seeing the kingdom pass to another. Therefore has he slain his Consort and his sons that nothing should induce him to live and forego death.”

This announcement recited, he made yet another to his ancestors.

“My ancestors, if you have spiritual intelligence, you know the feelings of your descendant.”

Then he wept sore till his eyes ran blood, and he committed suicide. The people of Shu grieved deeply for him, and a poet has praised his noble deed.

[hip, hip, hip]
Both king and courtiers, willing, bowed the knee,
One son alone was grieved and would not live.
The western kingdom fell to rise no more,
A noble prince stood forth, for aye renowned
As one who died to save his forbears’ shame.
With grievous mien and falling tears he bowed
His head, declaring his intent to die.
While such a memory lingers none may say
That the Han Dynasty has perished.
[yip, yip, yip]

When the Latter Ruler knew of the death of his son, he sent people to bury him.

Soon the main body of the Wei army came. The Latter Ruler and all his courtiers to the number of sixty went out three miles from the north gate to bow their heads in submission, the Latter Ruler binding himself with cord and taking a coffin with him. But Deng Ai with his own hands loosened the bonds and raised the Latter Ruler from the ground. The coffin was burned. Then the victorious leader and the vanquished Emperor returned into the city side by side.

[hip, hip, hip]
Wei’s legions entered Shu,
And the ruler thereof saved his life
At the price of his honor and his throne.
Huang Hao’s vicious counsels had brought disaster
Against which Jiang Wei’s efforts were vain.
How bright shone the loyalty of the faithful one!
How noble was the grandson of the First Ruler!
Alas! It led him into the way of sorrow.
And the plans of the First Ruler,
Excellent and far-reaching.
Whereby he laid the foundations of a mighty state,
Were brought to nought in one day.
[yip, yip, yip]

The common people rejoiced at the magnanimity of Deng Ai, and met the returning cavalcade with burning incense and flowers. The title of General of the Flying Cavalry was given to the Latter Ruler and other ranks were given to the ministers who had surrendered.

Deng Ai requested the Latter Ruler to issue one more proclamation from the Palace to reassure the people, and then the conquerors took formal possession of the state and its granaries and storehouses. Two officers—Governor of Yizhou Zhang Shao and Minister Zhang Jung—were sent into the counties and territories to explain the new situation and pacify malcontents, and another messenger was sent to exhort Jiang Wei to yield peaceably. A report of the success was sent to Capital Luoyang.

Huang Hao, the eunuch whose evil counsels had wrought such ruin to his master, was looked upon as a danger, and Deng Ai decided to put him to death. However, Huang Hao was rich, and he gave bribes to Deng Ai’s people, and so he escaped the death penalty.

Thus perished the House of Han. Reflecting on its end a poet recalled the exploits of Zhuge Liang the Martial Lord, and he wrote a poem.

[hip, hip, hip]
The denizens of tree-tops, apes and birds,
Most lawless of crested things, yet knew
And feared his mordant pen. The clouds and winds
Conspired to aid him to defend his lord.
But nought awaited the leader’s precepts, wise
To save; with base content the erstwhile king
Too soon surrendered, yielding all but life.
In gifts Zhuge Liang was peer with
Guan Zhong and Yue Yi,
His hapless death compared with
Zhang Fei’s and Guan Yu’s;
Sad sight, his temple on the river’s brink!
It wrings the heart more than the tearful verse
Of the Liangfu songs he most loved.
[yip, yip, yip]

In due time Minister Jiang Xian reached the Saber Pass, and gave Jiang Wei the Latter Ruler’s command to surrender to the invaders. Jiang Wei was dumb with amazement at the order; his officers ground their teeth with rage and mortification. Their hair stood on end with anger; they drew their swords and slashed at stones in their wrath.

Shouted they, “While we are fighting to our death, the Latter Ruler has yielded!”

The roar of their angry lamentation was heard for miles.

But Jiang Wei soothed them with kindly words, saying, “Generals, grieve not. Even yet I can restore the House of Han!”

“How?” cried they.

And he whispered low in their ears.

The flag of surrender fluttered over the ramparts of Saber Pass, and a messenger went to Zhong Hui’s camp. When Jiang Wei and his generals drew near, Zhong Hui went out to meet them.

“Why have you been so long in coming?” said Zhong Hui.

Jiang Wei looked him straight in the face and said, without a tremor, but through falling tears, “The whole armies of the state are under me, and I am here far too soon!”

Zhong Hui wondered about this firm remark, and said nothing more. The two saluted each other and took their seats, Jiang Wei being placed in the seat of honor.

Jiang Wei said, “I hear that every detail of your plans, from the time you left the South of River Huai till now, has been accomplished. The good fortune of the Sima family is owing to you, and so I am the more content to bow my head and yield to you. Had it been Deng Ai, I should have fought to the death, for I would not have surrendered to him!”

Then Zhong Hui broke an arrow in twain, and they two swore close brotherhood. Their friendship became close-knit. Jiang Wei was continued in command of his own army, at which he secretly rejoiced. He sent Jiang Xian back to Chengdu.

As conqueror, Deng Ai arranged for the administration of the newly-gained territory. He made Shi Zuan Imperial Protector of Yizhou and appointed Qian Hong, Yang Xin, and many others to various posts. He also built a tower in Mianzhu in commemoration of his conquest.

At a great banquet, where most of the guests were people of the newly-conquered land, Deng Ai drank too freely and in his cups became garrulous.

With a patronizing wave of his hand, he said to his guests, “You are lucky in that you have had to do with me. Things might well have been otherwise, and you might all have been put to death, if you surrender to other leader!”

The guests rose in a body and expressed their gratitude. Just at that moment Jiang Xian arrived from his visit to Jiang Wei to say that Jiang Wei and his army had surrendered to Zhong Hui. Deng Ai thereupon conceived a great hatred for Zhong Hui, and soon after he wrote to Luoyang a letter something like this:

“I would venture to remark that misleading rumors of war should precede actual attack. Now that Shu has been overcome, the manifest next move is against Wu, and in present circumstances victory would easily follow an attack. But after a great effort, both leaders and led are weary and unfit for immediate service. Therefore of this army twenty thousand Wei troops should be left west of Longyou, and with them twenty thousand Shu troops, to be employed in boiling salt so as to improve the finances. Moreover, ships should be built ready for an expedition down the river. When these preparations shall be complete, then send an envoy into Wu to lay before its ruler the truth about its position. It is possible that matters may be settled without any fighting.

“Further, generous treatment of Liu Shan will tend to weaken Sun Xiu; but if Liu Shan be removed to Luoyang, the people of Wu will be perplexed and doubtful about what may happen to them, and they will not be amenable. Therefore it seems the most fitting to leave the late Ruler of Shu here. Next year, in the winter season, he might be removed to the capital. For the present I would recommend that he be created Prince of Fufeng, and granted a sufficient revenue and suitable attendants. His sons also should receive ducal rank. In this way would be demonstrated that favorable treatment follows upon submission. Such a course would inspire fear of the might of Wei and respect for its virtue, and the result will be all that could be desired.”

Reading this memorial, the thought entered the mind of Sima Zhao that Deng Ai was exaggerating his own importance, wherefore he first wrote a private letter and sent it by the hand of Wei Guan to Deng Ai and then caused the Ruler of Wei to issue an edict promoting Deng Ai. The edict ran thus:

“General Deng Ai has performed a glorious exploit, penetrating deeply into a hostile country and reducing to submission a usurping potentate. This task has been quickly performed: The clouds of war have already rolled away, and peace reigns throughout Ba and Shu.

[e] Bai Qi a general of Qin. In BC 278, the armies of Qin, led by Bai Qi, conquered Chu and entered her capital Ying, destroying the Palace to the ground. …..
[e] Han Xin (BC ?-197) was a great general of Liu Bang. …..

“The merits of Deng Ai surpass those of Bai Qi*, who subdued the mighty state of Chu, and Han Xin*, who conquered the state of Zhao. Deng Ai is created Grand Commander, and we confer upon him a fief of twenty thousand homesteads, and his two sons are ennobled, each with a fief of one thousand homesteads.”

After the edict had been received with full ceremonies, Wei Guan produced the private letter, which said that Deng Ai’s proposals would have suitable consideration in due time.

Then said Deng Ai, “A general in the field may decline to obey even the orders of his prince. My commission was to conquer the west. Why are my plans hindered?”

So he wrote a reply and sent it to the capital by the hand of the envoy. At that time it was common talk at court that Deng Ai intended to rebel; and when Sima Zhao read the letter, his suspicions turned to certainty, and he feared. This was the letter:

“Deng Ai, General Who Conquers the West, has reduced the chief of the revolt to submission, and must have authority to act according as he sees best in order to settle the early stages of administration of the new territory. To await government orders for every step means long delays. According to the Spring and Autumn Annals a high officer, when abroad, has authority to follow his own judgment for the safety of the Throne and the advantage of the state.

“Now seeing that Wu is still unsubdued, all interest centers upon this country, and schemes of settlement should not be nullified by strict adherence to rules and formalities. In war advances are made without thought of reputation, retreats without consideration of avoiding punishment. Though I do not possess the fortitude of the ancients, I shall not be deterred from acting for the benefit of the state by craven and selfish fears for my own reputation.”

In his perplexity Sima Zhao turned to Jia Chong for advice.

Said he, “Deng Ai presumes upon his services to be haughty and imperious. His recalcitrance is very evident. What shall I do?”

“Why not order Zhong Hui to reduce him to obedience?” replied Jia Chong.

Sima Zhao accepted the suggestion and issued an edict raising Zhong Hui to Minister of the Interior. After this he made Wei Guan the Inspector of the Forces and set Wei Guan over both armies, with special orders to keep a watch upon Deng Ai and guard against any attempt at insubordination.

The edict sent to Zhong Hui ran as follows:

“Zhong Hui, General Who Conquers the West, against whose might none can stand, before whom no one is strong, whose virtue conquers every city, whose wide net no one escapes, to whom the valiant army of Shu humbly submitted, whose plans never fail, whose every undertaking succeeds, is hereby made Minister of the Interior and raised to the rank of lordship of a fief of ten thousand families. His two sons also have similar rank with a fief of one thousand families.”

When this edict reached Zhong Hui, he called in Jiang Wei and said to him, “Deng Ai has been rewarded more richly than I and is a Grand Commander. But Sima Zhao suspects him of rebellion and has ordered Wei Guan and myself to keep him in order. What does my friend Jiang Wei think ought to be done?”

Jiang Wei replied, “They say Deng Ai’s origin was ignoble and in his youth he was a farmer and breeder of cattle. However, he had good luck and has won a great reputation in this expedition. But this is due not to his able plans, but to the good fortune of the state. If you had not been compelled to hold me in check at Saber Pass, he could not have succeeded. Now he wishes the late Ruler of Shu to be created Prince of Fufeng, whereby he hopes to win the goodwill of the people of Shu. But to me it seems that perfidy lies therein. The Duke of Jin suspects him, it is evident.”

Zhong Hui complimented him. Jiang Wei continued, “If you will send away your people, I have something to say to you in private.”

When this had been done and they two were alone, Jiang Wei drew a map from his sleeve and spread it before Zhong Hui, saying, “Long ago, before he had left his humble cot. Zhuge Liang gave this to the First Ruler and told him of the riches of Yizhou and how well it was fitted for an independent state. Whereupon Chengdu was seized as a first step towards attaining it. Now that Deng Ai has got to the same point, it is small wonder that he has lost his balance.”

Zhong Hui asked many questions about the details of the features of the map, and Jiang Wei explained in full. Toward the end, he asked how Deng Ai could be got rid of.

“By making use of the Duke of Jin’s suspicions,” replied Jiang Wei. “Send up a memorial to say that it looks as if Deng Ai really contemplated rebellion. You will receive direct orders to check the revolt.”

So a memorial was sent to Luoyang. It said that Deng Ai aimed at independence, nourished base designs, was making friends with the vanquished, and was about to revolt.

At this news the court was much disturbed. Then to support his charges, Zhong Hui’s soldiers intercepted Deng Ai’s letters and rewrote them in arrogant and rebellious terms. Sima Zhao was greatly angered and sent Jia Chong to lead an expedition into the Xie Valley, he ordered Zhong Hui to arrest Deng Ai, and he himself directing a great march under the leadership of the Ruler of Wei, Cao Huang, whom he compelled to go with him.

Then said Shao Ti, “Zhong Hui’s army outnumbers that of Deng Ai by six to one. You need not go. You need only order Zhong Hui to arrest Deng Ai.”

“Have you forgotten?” said Sima Zhao, smiling. “You said Zhong Hui was a danger. I am not really going against Deng Ai, but against the other.”

“I feared lest you had forgotten,” said Shao Ti. “I ventured to remind you, but the matter must be kept secret.”

The expedition set out.

By this time Zhong Hui’s attitude had aroused Jia Chong’s suspicions, and he spoke of it to Sima Zhao, who replied, “I have sent you: Should I have doubts about you, too? However, come to Changan and things will clear up.”

The dispatch of the army under Sima Zhao was reported to Zhong Hui, who wondered what it might mean. He at once called in Jiang Wei to consult about the seizure of Deng Ai.

[hip, hip, hip]
Lo! He is victor here, a king must yield;
And there a threatening army takes the field.
[yip, yip, yip]

The next chapter will relate the plan to arrest Deng Ai.

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