(10.3) Jiǎ Xǔ 賈詡 [Wénhé 文和]

Jiǎ Xǔ appellation Wénhé was a Wǔwēi Gūzāng man. In his youth of the people of the time none were aware of him. Only Yán Zhōng of Hànyáng was impressed with him and said he had the genius of [Zhāng] Liáng and [Chén] Píng. (1)

賈詡字文和,武威姑臧人也。少時人莫知,唯漢陽閻忠異之,謂詡有良、平之奇。〔一〕

  • (1) Jiǔzhōu Chūnqiū states:
    • Zhōngpíng Inaugural Year [184], General of Chariots and Cavalry Huángfǔ Sōng had defeated the Yellow Scarves, and his authority shook the realm Under Heaven. Yán Zhōng at the time was dismissed from Magistrate of Xìndū, and advised Sōng: “What is hard to gain and easily to lose is time. Time arriving but going at the turn of the heel is opportunity. Therefore the saints always complied with the times and acted, and the wise certainly because of opportunity set out. Now you General have encountered a difficult to obtain fortune and tread on an easy to lose opportunity, and yet when walking by fortune you do not grasp it and when facing opportunity you do not set out, so how will you enjoy great reputation?”
    • Sōng said: “What do you speak of?”
    • Zhōng said: “Heaven’s way has no care for relations, and the common people gather around ability. Therefore if there is a very able person with achievement, he does not receive rewards from a mediocre ruler. Now you General received the Battle-Ax at the beginning of spring, and collected achievement by the end of winter, troops moving like spirits, making plans without needing revisions, and within weeks and moons, troops like divine lightning swept across, attacking the strong as easily as breaking a dried branch, destroying the enemy thoroughly like boiling water on snow, engulfing seven provinces and slaughtering thirty-six divisions, exterminating the armies of the Yellow Scarves and removing the worry of evil harm, [the Court] gave fief and carved stone [seals], facing south to reward virtue. Your authority shakes our Court, and your influence extends beyond the seas. Therefore the powerful men turn their heads and common people stand on their heels [to look at you]. Even the rising of Tāng was not as high as you General. You have established the achievement of a great man, yet still face north to a mediocre ruler. How can you be at ease?”
    • Sōng said: “If my heart does not forget loyalty, what is there to be uneasy about?”
    • Zhōng said: “Not so. In the past Hán Xìn could not bear [to forget] the favor of even one meal, and abandoned the benefit of dividing [the ream] into three [with one third for himself], refused Kuǎi Tōng’s loyalty, and neglected the security of taking place in a tripod. Only when the sharp sword was already against his throat did he then sigh and regret, and so his sons and daughters were boiled alive. Now the ruler’s power is weaker than Liú [Bāng] and Xiàng [Yǔ] while you General wield power greater than [the Marquis of] Huáiyīn [Hán Xìn]. Directing your banner you can shake the wind and clouds and shouting you can raise thunder and lightning; awe-inspiringly rouse forth, to cause danger against the corrupt, with lofty kindness pacify those that join at front, and shaking martial power to lead those bowing behind. Summon the scholars of Jì[zhōu] and move the armies of seven provinces, send feathered dispatches urgently ahead to the front while the main army shakes and sounds behind, tread across the Zhāng and [Yellow] Rivers, water your horses at Mèngjīn, raise a heavenly net to snare the capital, execute the criminal eunuchs, wipe out the accumulated grudges of those that blame, and resolve the hanging upside down due to long standing dangers. In this way you can attack no strong cities will be guarded, without recruiting others like a shadow will follow, so even a child can exert himself with an empty fist to reach strength and women can replace their skirts to receive orders. Moreover you can wield intelligent and able scholars and then the power of fast winds, and then great achievement would be easily done and all eight directions easily united. Once your outstanding achievement is done and all the realm Under Heaven obedient, then you can burn [offerings] to god above to inform of Heaven’s Mandate, meld and level all six directions, face south to establish rule and transfer the divine instruments to your own House, pushing aside the fallen Hàn to settle the throne. This is truly a divine opportunity to be decisive and excellent time to set out. Wood that is rotten is not engraved, and a time of decline is difficult to support. You General though wish to turn to loyalty and with difficulty support the Court, you are engraving and drawing on rotten and broken wood, like trying to oppose a slope to roll a ball. It certainly cannot be. Now powerful eunuchs congregate, and also evil in the marketplace, the ruler above is not free, and Imperial Orders set out from his attendants. If you heed but not examine, and in this opportunity are not first, you will certainly be regretful, and also come to nothing.”
    • Sōng would not listen, and Zhōng therefore fled.
  • Yīngxióngjì states: Liángzhōu rebels Wáng Guó and others raised troops, and together seized Zhōng to be their leader, command thirty-six divisions, and take title as General of Chariots and Cavalry. Zhōng was deeply regretful, and fell ill and died.

〔一〕 九州春秋曰:中平元年,車騎將軍皇甫嵩既破黃巾,威震天下。閻忠時罷信都令,說嵩曰:「夫難得而易失者時也,時至而不旋踵者機也,故聖人常順時而動,智者必因機以發。今將軍遭難得之運,蹈易解之機,而踐運不撫,臨機不發,將何以享大名乎?」嵩曰:「何謂也?」忠曰:「天道無親,百姓與能,故有高人之功者,不受庸主之賞。今將軍授鉞於初春,收功於末冬,兵動若神,謀不再計,旬月之間,神兵電掃,攻堅易於折枯,摧敵甚於湯雪,七州席卷,屠三十六(萬)方,夷黃巾之師,除邪害之患,或封戶刻石,南向以報德,威震本朝,風馳海外。是以群雄迴首,百姓企踵,雖湯武之舉,未有高於將軍者。身建高人之功,北面以事庸主,將何以圖安?」嵩曰:「心不忘忠,何為不安?」忠曰:「不然。昔韓信不忍一餐之遇,而棄三分之利,拒蒯通之忠,忽鼎跱之勢,利劍已揣其喉,乃歎息而悔,所以見烹於兒女也。今主勢弱於劉、項,將軍權重於淮陰,指麾可以振風雲,叱吒足以興雷電;赫然奮發,因危抵頹,崇恩以綏前附,振武以臨後服;徵冀方之士,動七州之眾,羽檄先馳於前,大軍震響於後,蹈蹟漳河,飲馬孟津,舉天網以網羅京都,誅閹宦之罪,除群怨之積忿,解久危之倒懸。如此則攻守無堅城,不招必影從,雖兒童可使奮空拳以致力,女子可使其褰裳以用命,況厲智能之士,因迅風之勢,則大功不足合,八方不足同也。功業已就,天下已順,乃燎于上帝,告以天命,混齊六合,南面以制,移神器於己家,推亡漢以定祚,實神機之至決,風發之良時也。夫木朽不彫,世衰難佐,將軍雖欲委忠難佐之朝,彫畫朽敗之木,猶逆阪而走丸,必不可也。方今權宦群居,同惡如市,主上不自由,詔命出左右。如有至聰不察,機事不先,必嬰後悔,亦無及矣。」嵩不從,忠乃亡去。英雄記曰:涼州賊王國等起兵,共劫忠為主,統三十六部,號車騎將軍。忠感慨發病而死。

He was examined as Filial and Incorrupt to become a Cadet, due to illness resigned his office, and returned west arriving at Qiān. On the road he encountered rebelling Dī peoples, and with fellow travelers several tens of men, all were captured by them. Xǔ said: “I am Lord Duàn’s maternal side grandson. You should separately bury my body. My family will certainly generously ransom it.” At the time the Grand Commandant was Duàn Jiǒng. In the past he had long been a frontier general, and his authority shook the western lands, and therefore Xǔ lied to scare the Dī. The Dī indeed did not dare harm him, and instead joined with him and escorted him, while the rest all died. Xǔ in fact was not a Duàn female side descendant. His ability to be opportunistic was all of this sort.

察孝廉為郎,疾病去官,西還至汧,道遇叛氐,同行數十人皆為所執。詡曰:「我段公外孫也,汝別埋我,我家必厚贖之。」時太尉段熲,昔久為邊將,威震西土,故詡假以懼氐。氐果不敢害,與盟而送之,其餘悉死。詡實非段甥,權以濟事,咸此類也。


When Dǒng Zhuó entered Luòyáng [189], Xǔ as an official [in the staff of the] Grand Commandant became Commandant of Píngjīn, and was promoted to Colonel Suppressing Caitiffs. Zhuó’s son-in-law Internal Gentleman-General Niú Fǔ garrisoned Shǎn, and Xǔ was there assisting the army. Zhuó was destroyed [192] and Fǔ also died. The army was frightened, and Colonels Lǐ Jué, Guō Sì, Zhāng Jì, and others wished to disband and take side roads to return to their hometowns.

董卓之入洛陽,詡以太尉掾為平津都尉,遷討虜校尉。卓婿中郎將牛輔屯陝,詡在輔軍。卓敗,輔又死,眾恐懼,校尉李傕、郭汜、張濟等欲解散,閒行歸鄉里。

Xǔ said: “I have heard in Cháng’ān there is discussion of wanting to execute all people of Liángzhōu, but if you sirs all abandon the army and travel alone, then even a precinct chief is enough to capture you sirs. It is better to lead the army and go west, gather all the troops there, and with them attack Cháng’ān to avenge Lord Dǒng [Zhuó]. If by good fortune the matter is successful, we can serve the state by campaigning across the realm Under Heaven. If it is not successful, it would not be too late to flee.”

詡曰:「聞長安中議欲盡誅涼州人,而諸君棄眾單行,即一亭長能束君矣。不如率眾而西,所在收兵,以攻長安,為董公報仇,幸而事濟,奉國家以征天下,若不濟,走未後也。」

The army believed this correct. [Lǐ] Jué therefore went west to attack Cháng’ān, as told in the Biography of [Dǒng] Zhuó [SGZ 6]. (1)

眾以為然。傕乃西攻長安。語在卓傳。〔一〕

  • (1) Your Servant Sōngzhī believes narratives praise: “The speech of benevolent men, its benefits are extensive!” In that case then not benevolent speech logically must be the opposite. Benevolent achievements are difficult to make known, but sources of chaos are easy to achieve, and therefore in disaster one action creates calamity flowing for a hundred generations. At that time, the leader of evil was already removed, Heaven and Earth was just restoring, but the violent ranks again rejoined, greatly blocking restorative flow, the state unexpectedly suffered the tragedy of great loss and destruction, and the common people suffered the ruthlessness like the remnants of Zhōu. Was this not due to Jiǎ Xǔ’s words? This was Xǔ’s crime. How great it was! Since ancient times with its innumerable disasters, none were as grave as this.

〔一〕 臣松之以為傳稱「仁人之言,其利溥哉」!然則不仁之言,理必反是。夫仁功難著,而亂源易成,是故有禍機一發而殃流百世者矣。當是時,元惡既梟,天地始開,致使厲階重結,大梗殷流,邦國遘殄悴之哀,黎民嬰周餘之酷,豈不由賈詡片言乎?詡之罪也,一何大哉!自古兆亂,未有如此之甚。

Later Xǔ became [Intendant of] Zuǒpíngyì. Jué and the others due to his achievement wished to make him a Marquis. Xǔ said: “This was a plan to save my life. What achievement is there?” He firmly refused and would not accept.

後詡為左馮翊,傕等欲以功侯之,詡曰:「此救命之計,何功之有!」固辭不受。

They also wished to appoint him Secretariat Deputy-Director Xǔ said: “Secretariat Deputy-Director is a leader of officials and the realm Under Heaven looks to it. My name Xǔ is not important, and not something to reassure people. If I out of nowhere come to glory and profit, how would it benefit the state court?” Therefore they appointed Xǔ to the Secretariat, to manage selections and nominations [for office], and as a result he brought much correction and relief. Jué and the others were close with but feared him. (2)

又以為尚書僕射,詡曰:「尚書僕射,官之師長,天下所望,詡名不素重,非所以服人也。縱詡昧于榮利,奈國朝何!」乃更拜詡尚書,典選舉,多所匡濟,傕等親而憚之。〔二〕

  • (2) Xiàndìjì states: Guō Sì and Fán Chóu with Jué turned against one another and wished to fight several times. Xǔ at once used reason to reproach them, and they would accept Xǔ’s speech.
  • Wèishū states: Xǔ managed selection and nomination [for office], and often chose out former famous [officials] to serve as managers and servants, and commentators for this praised Xǔ.

〔二〕 獻帝紀曰:郭汜、樊稠與傕互相違戾,欲鬥者數矣。詡輒以道理責之,頗受詡言。魏書曰:詡典選舉,多選舊名以為令僕,論者以此多詡。

It happened that his mother died and he resigned his post [for mourning]. He was appointed as Merit Grandee. Jué, Sì, and the others fought with one another in Cháng’ān. (3)

會母喪去官,拜光祿大夫。傕、汜等鬥長安中,〔三〕

  • (3) Xiàndìjì states: Jué and the others discussed with Xǔ on welcoming Heaven’s Son to establish Himself in their camp. Xǔ said: “This cannot be. To coerce Heaven’s Son is not righteous.” Jué did not listen. Zhāng Xiù said: “This is not a place one can long reside. Why do you not go?” Xǔ said: “I have recevied the state’s favor, and by righteousness cannot turn my back. You yourself go, but I cannot.”

〔三〕 獻帝紀曰:傕等與詡議,迎天子置其營中。詡曰:「不可。脅天子,非義也。」傕不聽。張繡謂詡曰:「此中不可久處,君胡不去?」詡曰:「吾受國恩,義不可背。卿自行,我不能也。」

Jué again invited Xǔ to be General Declaring Justice. (4)

傕復請詡為宣義將軍。〔四〕

  • (4) Xiàndìjì states: Jué at the time summoned Qiāng and Hú several thousands of men, first giving them Imperial objects and colored silks and also promising them palace maids and women, wishing to command them to attack Guō Sì. The Qiāng and Hú several times came to peep and inspect the Gates, saying: “Is Heaven’s Son inside? General Lǐ promised us palace maids and beautiful women. Now where are they?” The Emperor was worried about this, and sent Xǔ to come up with a plan.  Xǔ therefore secretly called the Qiāng and Hú chief commanders and gave them food and drink, promising them noble titles and valuable treasures, and thereupon they all drew back and left. Jué because of this grew weak.

〔四〕 獻帝紀曰:傕時召羌、胡數千人,先以御物繒綵與之,又許以宮人婦女,欲令攻郭汜。羌、胡數來闚省門,曰:「天子在中邪!李將軍許我宮人美女,今皆安在?」帝患之,使詡為之方計。詡乃密呼羌、胡大帥飲食之,許以封爵重寶,於是皆引去。傕由此衰弱。

Jué and the others making peace, releasing Heaven’s Son, and the protection of the great ministers, was due to Xǔ’s efforts. (5)

傕等和,出天子,祐護大臣,詡有力焉。〔五〕

  • (5) Xiàndìjì states: Heaven’s Son had gone east, but Lǐ Jué came in pursuit, and the ruler’s escort was completely defeated. Excellency of Works Zhào Wēn, Minister of Ceremonies Wáng Wěi, Minister of the Guard Zhōu Zhōng, and Director of Retainers Róng Shào were all hated by Jué, and he wished to kill them. Xǔ said to Jué: “These are all Heaven’ Son’s important ministers. How can you harm them?” Jué therefore stopped.

〔五〕 獻帝紀曰:天子既東,而李傕來追,王師敗績。司徒趙溫、太常王偉、衛尉周忠、司隸榮邵皆為傕所嫌,欲殺之。詡謂傕曰:「此皆天子大臣,卿奈何害之?」傕乃止。

When Heaven’s Son was released, Xǔ sent up and returned his seals and ribbons. At the time General Duàn Wēi garrisoned Huáyīn (6) who was from the same prefecture as Xǔ, so he left Jué and joined Wēi.

天子既出,詡上還印綬。是時將軍段煨屯華陰,〔六〕與詡同郡,遂去傕託煨。

  • (6) Diǎnlüè praises Wēi in his time at Huáyīn for repairing agriculture and not plundering. When Heaven’s Son returned east, Wēi welcomed them on the road with tribute to provide for urgent needs.
  • Xiàndìjì states: Later Wēi was appointed Minister Herald and Grandee Official. Jiàn’ān fourteenth year [209] he died of old age.

〔六〕 典略稱煨在華陰時,脩農事,不虜略。天子東還,煨迎道貢遺周急。獻帝紀曰:後以煨為大鴻臚光祿大夫,建安十四年,以壽終。

Xǔ was well-known and Wēi’s army looked to him. Wēi inside was afraid he would be usurped [by Jiǎ Xǔ], but outside he treated Xǔ with courtesy and thorough preparations, but Xǔ could not be at ease.

詡素知名,為煨軍所望。煨內恐其見奪,而外奉詡禮甚備,詡愈不自安。


Zhāng Xiù was at Nányáng. Xǔ secretly communicated with Xiù, and Xiù sent someone to welcome Xǔ. Xǔ was about to go. Someone said to Xǔ: “[Duàn] Wēi has treated you well. Why are you leaving?”

張繡在南陽,詡陰結繡,繡遣人迎詡。詡將行,或謂詡曰:「煨待君厚矣,君安去之?」

Xǔ said: “Wēi by nature is very suspicious, and has doubts of my intentions. Though his courtesy is generous, he cannot be relied on, and after a while he will make plans [against me]. When I go he will certainly be pleased, and also hope I will maintain relations and serve as strong reinforcements outside, and will certainly generously treat my wives and children. [Zhāng] Xiù has no chief strategist, and will also wish to obtain me, and so my family and myself will certainly both be safe.” Xǔ therefore went. Xiù acted with the courtesy of a younger relation, and Wēi indeed well cared for his family.

詡曰:「煨性多疑,有忌詡意,禮雖厚,不可恃,久將為所圖。我去必喜,又望吾結大援於外,必厚吾妻子。繡無謀主,亦願得詡,則家與身必俱全矣。」詡遂往,繡執子孫禮,煨果善視其家。

Xǔ advised Xiù to make peace and alliance with Liú Biǎo. (1)

詡說繡與劉表連和。〔一〕

  • (1) Fùzǐ states: Xǔ went south to meet Liú Biǎo, and Biǎo with the courtesy due to a guest treated him. Xǔ said: “Biǎo in peaceful times has the ability [to be of] the Three Excellencies, but he does not recognize things change, is suspicious without decisiveness, and will not be successful.”

〔一〕 傅子曰:詡南見劉表,表以客禮待之。詡曰:「表,平世三公才也;不見事變,多疑無決,無能為也。」

Tàizǔ [Cáo Cāo] successively campaigned against them, then one morning led the army back and retreated, and Xiù personally pursued them. Xǔ said to Xiù: “They cannot be pursued. To pursue is to certainly be defeated.” Xiù did not listen, advanced his troops and did battle, and was greatly defeated and returned.

太祖比征之,一朝引軍退,繡自追之。詡謂繡曰:「不可追也,追必敗。」繡不從,進兵交戰,大敗而還。

Xǔ said to Xiù: “Hurriedly again pursue them. Another battle is certain to be victorious.”

詡謂繡曰:「促更追之,更戰必勝。」

Xiù apologized and said: “Because I did not listen to your words it came to this. Now we are already defeated, how can we again pursue?”

繡謝曰:「不用公言,以至於此。今已敗,奈何復追?」

Xǔ said: “Military situations always change. Urgently go for certain success.”

詡曰:「兵勢有變,亟往必利。」

Xiù trusted him, and so gathered his scattered troops and again pursued, fought a great battle, and indeed returned victorious. He asked Xǔ: “I led elite troops to pursue a retreating army, but you said it was certain defeat. I went again with defeated troops to attack victorious soldiers, and you said it was certain success. In both cases it was as you said. How did you know it would be contrary [to usual expectations] both times?”

繡信之,遂收散卒赴追,大戰,果以勝還。問詡曰:「繡以精兵追退軍,而公曰必敗;退以敗卒擊勝兵,而公曰必剋。悉如公言,何其反而皆驗也?」

Xǔ said: “This is easy to understand and that is all. Though you General are good at using troops, you are no match to Lord Cáo. Though the army was newly retreating, Lord Cáo was certainly personally at the rear; though the pursuing troops were elite, the commanders were no match, while the enemy troops were also on guard, and therefore I knew it was certain defeat. When Lord Cáo attacked you General he made no miscalculations and his strength was not exhausted and yet he retreated, so it must be that within the state there was an issue. After defeating you General, he would certainly lead light troops and hurriedly go, leaving various other officers at the rear. Though these other officers were brave, they were also no match for you General, and therefore though you used defeated troops to fight it was a certain victory.”

詡曰:「此易知耳。將軍雖善用兵,非曹公敵也。軍雖新退,曹公必自斷後;追兵雖精,將既不敵,彼士亦銳,故知必敗。曹公攻將軍無失策,力未盡而退,必國內有故;已破將軍,必輕軍速進,縱留諸將斷後,諸將雖勇,亦非將軍敵,故雖用敗兵而戰必勝也。」

Xiù was thus impressed.

繡乃服。

After this, Tàizǔ resisted Yuán Shào at Guāndù. Shào sent an envoy to recruit Xiù and also write a letter to Xǔ to make alliance as reinforcements. Xiù wished to agree to this. Xǔ before where Xiù was seated said to Shào’s envoy: “Return with our apologies to Yuán Běnchū. He and his brothers [Yuán Shào and Yuán Shù] could not work with one another; can he work with the great men of the realm?”

是後,太祖拒袁紹於官渡,紹遣人招繡,并與詡書結援。繡欲許之,詡顯於繡坐上謂紹使曰:「歸謝袁本初,兄弟不能相容,而能容天下國士乎?」

Xiù was alarmed and afraid and said: “Why did you go as far as this?” He secretly said to Xǔ: “If it is like this, where can we give allegiance?”

繡驚懼曰:「何至於此!」竊謂詡曰:「若此,當何歸?」

Xǔ said: “It is better to follow Excellency Cáo.”

詡曰:「不如從曹公。」

Xiù said: “Yuán is strong and Cáo weak, and also we and Cáo are enemies. How can we follow him?”

繡曰:「袁彊曹弱,又與曹為讎,從之如何?」

Xǔ said: “These are the reasons it is suitable to follow him. This Lord Cáo supports Heaven’s Son to command the realm Under Heaven, and this is the first reason to follow him. Shào is strong and flourishing, and if we with our small army follow him, he will certainly not consider us important. Lord Cáo’s army is weak, and if he obtains us he will certainly be pleased, and this is the second reason to follow. One who has the will to be overlord must assuredly set aside private resentments and show brilliant virtue to within the Four Seas, and this is the third reason. May you General have no doubts!”

詡曰:「此乃所以宜從也。夫曹公奉天子以令天下,其宜從一也。紹彊盛,我以少眾從之,必不以我為重。曹公眾弱,其得我必喜,其宜從二也。夫有霸王之志者,固將釋私怨,以明德於四海,其宜從三也。願將軍無疑!」

Xiù followed this, and led his army to submit to Tàizǔ. Tàizǔ met them, was pleased, and grasped Xǔ by the hand and said: “The one who has made me trusted and esteemed by the realm Under Heaven is you sir.” He memorialized Xǔ as Bearer of the Metal Mace, with fief as Marquis of a capital precinct, then promoted to Governor of Jìzhōu. Jìzhōu was not yet settled, so he remained as Advisor to the Army of the Excellency of Works.

繡從之,率眾歸太祖。太祖見之,喜,執詡手曰:「使我信重於天下者,子也。」表詡為執金吾,封都亭侯,遷冀州牧。冀州未平,留參司空軍事。

Yuán Shào besieged Tàizǔ at Guāndù. Tàizǔ’s provisions were about ot be exhausted, and he asked Xǔ for a plan to set out [and attack]. Xǔ said: “Your wisdom surpasses Shào, your valor surpasses Shào, your employment of men surpasses Shào, your decisiveness surpasses Shào. You have these four triumphs but in half a year have not settled him, only because you focus on the absolutely safe. Certainly seize an opportunity and immediately he can be settled.” Tàizǔ said: “Excellent” and therefore gathered troops troops and set out, besieged and attacked Shào’s camps over thirty lǐ away, and destroyed them. Shào’s army was greatly scattered, and north of the [Yellow] River was pacified. Tàizǔ took office as Governor of Jìzhōu, and transferred Xǔ as Grand Internal Grandee.

袁紹圍太祖於官渡,太祖糧方盡,問詡計焉出,詡曰:「公明勝紹,勇勝紹,用人勝紹,決機勝紹,有此四勝而半年不定者,但顧萬全故也。必決其機,須臾可定也。」太祖曰:「善。」乃并兵出,圍擊紹三十餘里營,破之。紹軍大潰,河北平。太祖領冀州牧,徙詡為太中大夫。

Jiàn’ān thirteenth year [208], Tàizǔ conquered Jīngzhōu, and wished to follow the Jiāng eastward down[stream]. Xǔ remonstrated him: “You wise lord previously destroyed the Yuán clan, and now collect the south of the Hàn [river]. Your authority and prestige extends far, and your military power has reached greatness. If you make use of the wealth of the [lands of] old Chǔ [Jīngzhōu], to reward the officials and soldiers, console and calm the people, to safeguard the land and restore industry, then you can without toiling the army cause the east of the Jiāng to surrender and submit.” Tàizǔ did not follow this, and the army then was unsuccessful. (2)

建安十三年,太祖破荊州,欲順江東下。詡諫曰:「明公昔破袁氏,今收漢南,威名遠著,軍勢既大;若乘舊楚之饒,以饗吏士,撫安百姓,使安土樂業,則可不勞眾而江東稽服矣。」太祖不從,軍遂無利。〔二〕

  • (2) Your Servant Sōngzhī believes that this plan of Xǔ’s was not suitable for the situation of the time. At the time the followers of Hán [Suì] and Mǎ [Chāo] were like wolves watching from right [west] of the Passes, Wèi [Cáo Cāo] could not be safely occupy Yǐngdū and with his authority subdue Wú and Kuài[jī], and this was already obvious. This Jīngzhōu was certainly what Sūn [Quán] and Liú [Bèi] would certainly strive for. The people of Jīng admired Lord Liú’s imposing appearance and feared Sūn Quán’s military strategies, and when the days became long, it truly could not be what the Cáo family Generals could resist and defend. Therefore when Cáo Rén defended Jiānglíng, the defeat [209] was but at the turn of a heel. How could he pacify them with conduct, or have them bow and submit in that time? He had just newly pacified the Jiāng and Hàn [rivers] and his authority frightened [the lands of] Yáng and Yuè, gained Liú Biǎo’s naval war equipment, gathered hands of the oars of Jīng-Chǔ, and was truly a great opportunity to shake and clear away, a great opportunity to expansively settle things. If he did not follow up on this to seize Wú, could he easily wait? As for the defeat at Chìbì, that was due to destiny. Truly it was due to an epidemic greatly spreading that blunted the severity of the vanguard point, and a favorable wind from the south to be used to power a complete burning. This was truly due to Heaven, how can it be an affair of Man? In that case Wèi ’s going eastward down[stream] was not a miscalculation. Xǔ in this admonishment was not correct. Wèi later overcame and pacified Zhāng Lǔ, and in Shǔ in one day there were several tens of alarms, and though Liú Bèi beheaded them he could not stop [the alarms]. Because he did not use Liú Yè’s plan, he lost to opportunity to roll it all up. The judgment was in error, he regretted and could do nothing, and this was also the same sort of situation. All said Liú’s plan was correct, so it is all the more obvious that Jiǎ’s words were wrong.

〔二〕 臣松之以為詡之此謀,未合當時之宜。于時韓、馬之徒尚狼顧關右,魏武不得安坐郢都以威懷吳會,亦已明矣。彼荊州者,孫、劉之所必爭也。荊人服劉主之雄姿,憚孫權之武略,為日既久,誠非曹氏諸將所能抗禦。故曹仁守江陵,敗不旋踵,何撫安之得行,稽服之可期?將此既新平江、漢,威懾揚、越,資劉表水戰之具,藉荊楚楫櫂之手,實震蕩之良會,廓定之大機。不乘此取吳,將安俟哉?至於赤壁之敗,蓋有運數。實由疾疫大興,以損淩厲之鋒,凱風自南,用成焚如之勢。天實為之,豈人事哉?然則魏武之東下,非失算也。詡之此規,為無當矣。魏武後克平張魯,蜀中一日數十驚,劉備雖斬之而不能止,由不用劉曄之計,以失席卷之會,斤石既差,悔無所及,即亦此事之類也。世咸謂劉計為是,即愈見賈言之非也。

Tàizǔ later with Hán Suì and Mǎ Chāo fought south of the Wèi [river]. Chāo and the others offered to cede territory for peace, and also asked to send their sons [to Court] to take appointment [and thus serve as political hostages]. Xǔ believed they could falsely agree to this. [Cáo Cāo] also asked Xǔ if he had a plan, and Xǔ said: “Break them apart and that is all.” Tàizǔ said: “Understood,” and completely used Xǔ’s plans, as told in Wǔ-jì [SGZ 1]. The final defeat of Suì and Chāo began from Xǔ’s plans.

太祖後與韓遂、馬超戰於渭南,超等索割地以和,并求任子。詡以為可偽許之。又問詡計策,詡曰:「離之而已。」太祖曰:「解。」一承用詡謀。語在武紀。卒破遂、超,詡本謀也。


At the time Wén-dì [Cáo Pī] was General of All-Purposes, but the Marquis of Línzī [Cáo] Zhí’s genius and fame was flourishing. Each had factions of support, and discussions on how to gain the succession. Wén-dì sent someone to ask Xǔ for a way to preserve his position, and Xǔ said: “May you General be magnanimous and virtuous, personally undergo the work of plain scholars, morning and night work hard, and not violate the way of a son. It is this and nothing more.” Wén-dì followed this, and deeply worked on himself.

是時,文帝為五官將,而臨菑侯植才名方盛,各有黨與,有奪宗之議。文帝使人問詡自固之術,詡曰:「願將軍恢崇德度,躬素士之業,朝夕孜孜,不違子道。如此而已。」文帝從之,深自砥礪。

Tàizǔ also once dismissed his attendants to ask Xǔ [about the succession], but Xǔ closed his mouth and did not answer. Tàizǔ said: “I spoke with you but you did not answer. Why was this?”

太祖又嘗屏除左右問詡,詡嘿然不對。太祖曰:「與卿言而不答,何也?」

Xǔ said: “I your subordinate was thinking about something, and therefore did not immediately answer and that is all.”

詡曰:「屬適有所思,故不即對耳。」

Tàizǔ said: “What were you thinking about?”

太祖曰:「何思?」

Xǔ said: “I was thinking of Yuán [Shào] Běnchū and Liú [Biǎo] Jǐngshēng, fathers and their sons.”

詡曰:「思袁本初、劉景升父子也。」

Tàizǔ greatly laughed, and by this the Heir-Apparent was then settled.

太祖大笑,於是太子遂定。

Xǔ himself recognized he was not an old follower of Tàizǔ but had profound plans, was concerned he would be suspected, so he closed his doors and kept to himself, kept away from private dealings, and his sons and daughters in their marriages were not connected to powerful families. Those of the realm Under Heaven who discussed wisdom and plans joined him.

詡自以非太祖舊臣,而策謀深長,懼見猜疑,闔門自守,退無私交,男女嫁娶,不結高門,天下之論智計者歸之。


When Wén-dì ascended [220] he appointed Xǔ as Grand Commandant (1), and advanced his rank to Marquis of Wèishòu village and increased his fief by 300, adding to the previous to 800 households.

文帝即位,以詡為太尉,〔一〕進爵魏壽鄉侯,增邑三百,并前八百戶。

  • Wèilüè states: Wén-dì benefited from Xǔ’s answer to Tàizǔ and therefore at the ascension he was first promoted up to the Excellencies.
  • Xún Xù Biézhuàn states: Jìn Excellency of Works was vacant, and Wǔ-dì [Sīmǎ Yán] asked who [could be appointed] to Xù. The answer was: “The Three Excellencies are looked to for guidance, and cannot use the wrong man. In the past Wèi Wén-dì employed Jiǎ Xǔ to the Three Excellencies, and Sūn Quán laughed at him.”

Also divided from the fief was 200 to give fief to his young son Fǎng as a Ranked Marquis. His eldest son Mù was appointed Consort Commandant.

又分邑二百,封小子訪為列侯。以長子穆為駙馬都尉。

The Emperor asked Xǔ: “I wish to cut down the disobedient to unite the realm Under Heaven. Wú or Shǔ first?”

帝問詡曰:「吾欲伐不從命以一天下,吳、蜀何先?」

[Jiǎ Xǔ] answered: “Those who attack and conquer place troop strength first, and those who establish foundations esteem virtuous enlightenment. Your Majesty has answered the times and accepted the abdication, overlooking and commanding the land. If you pacify it through culture and virtue and wait for a change, then pacification would not be difficult. Though Wú and Shǔ are trifling states, they rely on the obstructions of mountains and rivers, Liú Bèi has imposing ability, Zhūgě Liàng is good at ruling a state, Sūn Quán understands what is false and true, Lù Yì [Lù Xùn] knows military strength, they rely on natural barriers and defend critical points, float on boats on the rivers and lakes, and so all are difficult to make plans to end them. In the way of using troops, first surpass and afterward battle, judge the enemy and then discuss deployment, so that at deployment there is no omission in strategy. I your servant humbly judge that of our ministers, none are a match for [Liú] Bèi and [Sūn] Quán. Even with your Heavenly authority overlooking them, it is not absolutely sure. In the past Shùn danced with shield and battle-axe and the Miáo submitted. I your servant believe now it is suitable to first use the civil and afterward the military.”

對曰:「攻取者先兵權,建本者尚德化。陛下應期受禪,撫臨率土,若綏之以文德而俟其變,則平之不難矣。吳、蜀雖蕞爾小國,依阻山水,劉備有雄才,諸葛亮善治國,孫權識虛實,陸議見兵勢,據險守要,汎舟江湖,皆難卒謀也。用兵之道,先勝後戰,量敵論將,故舉無遺策。臣竊料群臣,無備、權對,雖以天威臨之,未見萬全之勢也。昔舜舞干戚而有苗服,臣以為當今宜先文後武。」

Wén-dì did not accept this. Later he began the Jiānglíng campaign, and many soldiers died.

文帝不納。後興江陵之役,士卒多死。

Xǔ was aged seventy-seven years and died, posthumous name Sù-hóu “Solemn Marquis.” His son Mù succeeded and held office as a prefecture Administrator. Mù died, and his son Mó succeeded. (2)

詡年七十七,薨,諡曰肅侯。子穆嗣,歷位郡守。穆薨,子模嗣。〔二〕

  • (2) Shìyǔ states: Mó in the time of Jìn Huì-dì [Sīmǎ Zhōng, 259-307] was Cavalier Regular Attendant and General Protecting the Army. Mó’s son Yìn, Yìn’s younger brother Kān and younger cousin Yǎ, each reached high office and were prominent in Jìn.

〔二〕 世語曰:模,晉惠帝時為散騎常侍、護軍將軍,模子胤,胤弟龕,從弟疋,皆至大官,並顯於晉也。

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