Xú Miǎo, appellation Jǐngshān, was a Yān-guó Jì man. When Tài-zǔ [Cáo Cāo] pacified Héshuò, he was summoned to serve as a planning official in the Army of the Chancellor, tested with defense as Magistrate of Fènggāo, and entered Court as Commentator Official in the East Bureau. When the state of Wèi was first established  he was appointed Secretariat Cadet. At the time there was a prohibition against alcohol, but Miǎo privately drank it and became very intoxicated. Investigative Officer Zhào Dá inquired into his government affairs, and Miǎo said: “I am a sage.” Dá reported this to Tài-zǔ and Tài-zǔ was extremely angry. General Crossing the Liáo Xiānyú Fǔ argued: “Those who often drink, when drunk, call pure wine as a ‘sage’ and unfiltered wine as a ‘saint.’ Miǎo by nature is prudent. This is only drunken nonsense and that is all.” As a result he escaped punishment. Later he was given office as Administrator of Lǒngxī, then transferred to Nán’ān.
After Wén-dì [Cáo Pī] ascended , he successively served as Chancellor of Qiáo, Administrator of Píngyáng and Ānpíng, Internal Gentleman-General of Agriculture in Yǐngchuān, and in all places he was renowned, and titled Marquis within the Passes. When the Imperial Carriage visited Xǔchāng, [the Emperor] asked Miǎo: “Are you still a sage?”
Miǎo replied: “In the past Zǐfǎn was ruined [by drink] at Gǔyáng, and Yùshū was punished for drinking wine. I your servant enjoy [drinking] like these two, and cannot restrain myself, and so always return to it. But while Sùliú was remembered as disgraceful, I your servant for my drinking receive favor.”
The Emperor laughed greatly, and said to his attendants: “His reputation is not undeserved.” He was promoted to Master of the Army to the General-in-Chief Supporting the Army.
Míng-dì [Cáo Ruì], because Liángzhōu was far away and to the south bordered the Shǔ rebels, appointed Miǎo as Inspector of Liángzhōu and sent him with a Staff of Authority as Colonel Protecting the Qiāng. When he arrived, it happened that Zhūgě Liàng set out from Qíshān  and the three commanderies about Lǒngyòu rebelled. Miǎo immediately sent the Military Advisor and Administrator of Jīnchéng and others to attack the rebels at Nán’ān, and defeated them.
West of the [Yellow] River there was little rain, and there were often the hardships of food shortages. Miǎo memorialized to repair the salt pans of Wǔwēi and Jiǔquán and capture the enemy grain, and also built canals and farm fields, recruited poor people to develop them, and so all families had more than enough and the granaries were filled to overflowing. Thereafter a portion was withdrawn from the surplus military use to purchase metal, silk, dogs, horses, and supply for the expenditures of the central states. Private ownership of weapons was also gradually reduced and moved to storage in government storehouses. Afterward he preached on benevolence and justice, established schools and teaching, prohibited extravagant burial, ended excessive sacrifices, advanced the good and removed the evil, and so public morals greatly improved and the common people willingly submitted. Communication was restored with the Western Regions, and the Huāng and Róng presented tribute. This were all the achievements of Miǎo.
He put down the rebellion of the Qiāng [leader] Kēwú and served with distinction, was given fief as Marquis of Dū precinct with 300 households, and promoted to General Establishing Authority.
Miǎo in his dealings with the Qiāng and Hú peoples did not inquire into small transgressions; if the crime was very great, he would first inform the tribal leaders, and only after they were informed of the condemned criminal would he behead and expose, and so his authority was respected and feared. All the rewards he was bestowed with he distributed to his officers and soldiers, and none of it entered his house, and his wife and children did not have enough food or clothing. Heaven’s Son heard and praised him, and so provided for his family. He struck down the wrong and restrained the unjust, and all within the borders were secure.
Zhèngshǐ Inaugural Year  he returned [to Court] as Minister of Agriculture. He was transferred to Colonel-Director of Retainers. All the officials respected and feared him. Because of public matters he resigned office. Later he became Merit Grandee, and several years later he was appointed Excellency of Works . Miǎo sighed and said: “The Three Excellencies are officials who discuss the way, and if there is no suitable men the posts are vacant. How can a shameful sick and old man [like me be appointed]?” Therefore he resigned and would not accept.
Jiāpíng Inaugural Year , he was aged seventy-eight years, and as a great official died at home. He was buried with the honors of an Excellency, with posthumous title as Mù-hóu “Solemn Marquis.” His son Wǔ succeeded.
Sixth year , the Court made memorial of the honest and great officials [of the past]. An Imperial Order said: “Worthy sages are those who demonstrate virtue and are valued by sagely Kings. They recommend the good to educate others, and have the goodness of Zhòngní [Confucius]. Former Excellency of Works Xú Miǎo, General Attacking the East Hú Zhì, and Minister of the Guard Tián Yù each held office in the previous Court [of Míng-dì], served successively for four generations, went out commanding troops and horses, came in to assist in government, were loyal to the public good, so anxious for the state as to forget private concerns, did not hoard personal wealth, so that after they were gone their households had no excess wealth. We are deeply impressed with them, and so bestow on the households of Miǎo and others two thousand hú of grain, three hundred thousand coins. So announced to all Under Heaven.”
Hán Guàn of the same prefecture as Miǎo traveled far, had integrity and ability, and was of equal fame with Miǎo, and before the birth of Sūn Lǐ and Lú Yù was inspector of Yùzhōu. He had many merits in government, and died in office. (1)
- (1) Wèi Míngchén Zòu records Yellow Gate Attendant Official Dù Shù‘s Memorial, which says: “Hán Guàn and Wáng Chǎng are honest and multi-talented, had high office and heavy responsibilities in not only three provinces.”
Lú Qīn wrote a book and said of Miǎo: “Excellency Xú had lofty ambitions and noble conduct. His ability was extensive and his spirit ferocious. In his management, he was noble and not rash, pure and not following [bad examples], widely learned and keeping of promises, ferociously decisive but capable of leniency. Sages believe to act purely is difficult, but for Excellency Xú it was easy.”
Someone said to Qīn: “Excellency Xú in the time of Wǔ-dì was believed by men to be ordinary, but after he was at Liángzhōu and returned to the capital, men believed he was special. Why was this?”
Qīn answered: “Previously Máo [Jiè] Xiàoxiān [SGZ 12] and Cuī [Yǎn] Jìguī [SGZ 12] and the rest were in charge of affairs, and they esteemed the honest and pure gentlemen, so at the time everyone changed their carriages and clothes [to plain ones] to try to claim a high reputation, but Excellency Xú did not change his ways, so people thought he was ordinary. Later the world Under Heaven became extravagant, and everyone changed direction [in their behavior], but Excellency Xú again acted as before, not following the common customs. Therefore what was ordinary yesterday became special today. This is because the people of the times are fickle, while Excellency Xú was unchanging.”