Yuán Huàn appellation Yàoqīng was a Chén-jùn Fúyuè man. His father [Yuán] Pāng was a Hàn Excellency Over the Masses. (1) At the time of the various Excellencies’ sons many violated the law, but Huàn was honest and tranquil, and in any action was always in accordance with courtesy.
- (1) Yuán Hóng’s Hànjì states: Pāng appellation Gōngxī was pure in nature and had few desires, and to the end would not speak of the shortcomings of others. At the time those in power and favor were flourishing, and some who were of agreement or disagreement came to disaster, but Pāng alone maintained neutrality at Court, and therefore the favor and enmity did not reach him.
The prefecture appointed him Merit Officer, and in the prefecture all the treacherous officials all by themselves resigned and left. Later he was recruited to the Offices of the Excellencies, reached high rank, and promoted to Attendant Censorate. He was sent out as Magistrate of Qiáo, but did not reach it. While Liú Bèi was at Yùzhōu, he nominated Huàn as Abundant Talent. Later he fled to the lands between the Jiāng and Huái, and from Yuán Shù received appointment. Whenever [Yuán] Shù had a discussion, Huàn always had an upright comment that Shù could not refute, but respected him and did not dare be without courtesy.
Shortly after this, Lǚ Bù attacked [Yuán] Shù at Fùlíng. Huàn had gone to accompany [Yuán Shù], and therefore was by [Lǚ] Bù detained. [Lǚ] Bù had previously with Liú Bèi been allied and close, but later they became estranged. [Lǚ] Bù wished to have Huàn write a letter to curse and insult [Liú] Bèi, but Huàn would not, so [Lǚ Bù] repeatedly tried to force him, but he would not agree.
[Lǚ] Bù was greatly angry, and with weapons threatened Huàn and said: “If you do it you live. If you do not do it you die.”
Huàn’s countenance did not change. He laughed and answered him: “I have heard only that virtue can shame someone, never that insults can. If he is in fact a superior gentleman, then he will not be shamed by your words, General. If he is in fact a petty man, then he will reply [with his own insults] to you, General, and then the shame will be here with you and not with him. Moreover I in a past day served General Liú [Bèi], but today serve you General. If sometime I leave here, and turn back to insult you General, would that be right?”
[Lǚ] Bù was ashamed and stopped.
[Lǚ] Bù was executed  and Huàn joined Tàizǔ [Cáo Cāo]. (1)
- (1) Yuánshì Shìjì “Yuán Clan’s Generational Records” states: [Lǚ] Bù was destroyed, Chén Qún father and son at the time were also in [Lǚ] Bù’s army, and when they met Tàizǔ they all bowed. Huàn alone remained standing and [only] saluted without great courtesy, and Tàizǔ was deeply impressed by him. At the time Tàizǔ also gave to the army officials each several chariots, to send them to take [Lǚ] Bù’s army’s materials, whatever they wanted. Everyone all took heavy loads, but Huàn only took books of several hundred scrolls and some provisions and nothing more. Everyone heard of this, and was greatly ashamed. Huàn said to his relatives: “If I am to travel the battle lines and with the army to set out I would collect provisions and nothing more, and not take this rest for personal ownership. That this has given me a reputation, I greatly regret it.” Tàizǔ increased his respect for him.
Huàn advised him: “Warfare is a dangerous tool, for only when one cannot help it to be used. Beat war-drums by moral principles, campaign by benevolence and justice, comfort the people and remove their sufferings. Only then can you with them die and with them live. Since the great chaos came over ten years have passed, the people wish for security, are deeply hanging down in distress, but the terrible chaos has no relief. Why is this? Perhaps government has lost its way! I have heard the enlightened lord is good at saving the world, so when the world is in chaos they settle it with justice, when it is false then they preserve it with simplicity. When the world is different matters change, and governing the state cannot be the same, and this cannot be not considered. The system’s losses and benefits, in the past or now do not have to be the same. If one can give universal love to the realm and set it upright, though military power can pacify chaos and relieve it with virtue, it is truly a principle not a hundred Kings can change. Your Excellency’s enlightenment and wisdom surpasses all others, and what the ancients used to obtain the people, your Excellency has already diligently used, and what the present has that lost the people, your Excellency has already removed. Within the Seas depends on your Excellency in order to be saved from danger and destruction, but the people do not yet know justice, and if only your Excellency can instruct them, then the realm Under Heaven will deeply prosper!”
Tàizǔ deeply accepted this, and appointed him Commandant of Pèi’s southern part.
At the time they had newly recruited people to start Garrison-Farms, the people were not happy, and many fled away. Huàn explained to Tàizǔ: “The people feel safe in their lands and treat moving as serious, cannot be suddenly changed, are easy in what they are willing, but difficult when they oppose. It is suitable to follow their wishes, only when they are happy to select them, and the unhappy are not to be forced.” Tàizǔ followed this, and the common people were greatly pleased.
He was promoted to Chancellor of Liáng. Huàn always ordered the various counties: “You must care for widowers, widowed, aged, and commend filial sons and pure women. It is often said: ‘When the world is governed then courtesy is comprehensive, when the world is chaotic then courtesy is simple.’ This is to be always considered and that is all. Though now is still disturbed, and difficult to develop courtesy, yet this is what we serve for.”
In government he esteemed teaching and instruction, considered and thought first and only afterward acted, outside was warm and agreeable but inside was decisive. (1) Due to illness he resigned office, and the common people missed him.
- (1) Wèishū states:
- Chief of Gǔshú Lǚ Qí was friendly with Zhū Yuān and Yuán Jīn, and sent an envoy to learn from them and return, summon and employ them, with them personally met, and installed [Zhū] Yuān as Teaching Friend Libationer and [Yuán] Jīn as Settling Doubts Libationer. [Zhū] Yuān and others each returned home and would not accept appointment. [Lǚ] Qí was greatly furious, and led officials and people to arrest [Zhū] Yuān and others, and beat and killed them all, and of commentators many disapproved. Huàn told them not to impeach.
- Registrar Sūn Huī and others believed: “The crimes of [Zhū] Yuān and others were not sufficient for death, and the Chief did not have the authority to kill. Kǒng-zǐ said: “Only weapons and reputation cannot be lent to others.” To speak of teaching friends but add execution, the crime and name are contradictory, and cannot be taken as a teaching.”
- Huàn commented: “The Registrar believes there was not authority to punish, and this is correct. But in saying the crimes of [Zhū] Yuān and others was not sufficient for death, this is incorrect. This teaching-friend name has existed from ancient times to now. However there are a lord’s teaching friend, and there are a great scholar official’s teaching friend. A lord appointing teaching friend as official is respecting his ministers; if there is a crime then there is punishment, and this is the state’s law. Now to not discuss the crime and only say of killing a teaching-friend, this is inappropriate. The Registrar says it is a student killing his teacher, but it is in fact a lord executing his minister, and these are not the same thing. In the sage’s wise government, observe the times and then move, and therefore there are not absolute constants, and there are situations where there is authority. Presently the world is in chaos, the people encroach on their superiors, and though affairs esteem lords and lower ministers, it has not changed this, and yet you instead support the present mistakes, is this not also absurd?”
- Therefore they did not impeach.
Later he was summoned to become Critical-Consultant Grandee, and Libationer to the Army of the Chancellor. From beginning to end his rewards were many, but all of it he distributed away, his home had no reserves, and to the end he did not participate in private business. When he was deficient he borrowed from others, was not demanding or picky, and so the people of the time admired his honesty.
When Wèi state was first established  he became Palace Gentleman Director, and had acting authority over the Censorate Grandee’s affairs. Huàn advised Tàizǔ: “Now the realm Under Heaven’s greatest difficulties have already been removed. Using both the civil and military is the way to for the long term. I believe we can greatly gather written works, to enlighten the teachings of previous sages, to change how the people see and hear, to allow Within the Seas to develop cultivated manner, then the distant peoples who do not submit can by cultivation and virtue be brought over.” Tàizǔ agreed with this advice.
At the time there were rumors Liú Bèi had died, and the various ministers all sent congratulations; Huàn because he had once been by [Liú] Bèi nominated for office alone did not send congratulations.
He remained in office for several years and died. Tàizǔ for him wept, and bestowed grain of 2000 hú, one instruction: “Tàicāng grain of a thousand hú to bestow on the Palace Gentleman Director’s family,” and one instruction: “Yuánxià grain of a thousand hú to share with Yàoqīng’s family.” Others did not understand his meaning. Instructions said: “The Tàicāng grain is for his government service. The Yuánxià grain is for his personal old friendship.”
Wén-dì [Cáo Pī] heard the matter of how in the past Huàn had defied Lǚ Bù, and asked Huàn’s younger cousin Mǐn: “Was Huàn brave or cowardly?”
Mǐn answered: “Huàn’s appearance was peaceful and agreebale, but he faced important affairs, resided in danger, and even [Mèng] Bēn and [Xià] Yù do not surpass him.”
Huàn’s son Kǎn was also honest and pure in nature, had his father’s manner, and over time served as prefecture Administrators and in the Secretariat. (1)
- (1) Yuánshì Shìjì states:
- Huàn had four sons: Kǎn, Yǔ, Ào, Zhǔn.
- Kǎn appellation Gōngrán, in conversation and discussion was pure and appropriate, agreeable and not offensive, and good in interacting with others. During the fall and rise, people competed in affairs, but he always modestly withdrew and did not participate. At the time people for this praised him. He over time was Yellow Gate Selecting Department Cadet, and praised for pure judgement. He was gradually promoted to the Secretariat, and died young.
- Yǔ appellation Xuānhòu, was energetic in debate and had skill and reason, was good at talking of the Dào School of thought, when young was ill, and before taking office died.
- Ào appellation Gōngróng, in conduct was strict in custom, in speech was concise but forthright, and died as Minister of Merits.
- Zhǔn appellation Xiàoní, was loyal and sincere and just and upright, was not ashamed to ask and learn from others, only fearing that others could not be of help. As the world’s affairs were very dangerous, therefore he always quiet and reserved and did not dare press for advancement. He wrote books of over a hundred thousand words, discussing matters of governing the world, for the Yì, Zhōuguān, and Shī made commentary and discussed the Five Classics’s difficult to understand words of the sages to pass down to the ages. This was in Zhǔn’s own preface.
- Xún Chāo’s Jiǔzhōujì praises Zhǔn for significant ability, and during Tàishǐ [265-274] he became Palace Official.
- The Yuán clan’s descendants for generations had reputation and position, and their nobility reaches to the present.
Previously, Huàn’s younger cousin Bà was fair and respectful and had achievement cability, at the beginning of Wèi was Minister of Agriculture, and with Hé Kuí of the same commandery both had well-known reputation at the time. Bà‘s son Liàng, [Hé] Kuí’s son Zēng, with [Yuán] Kǎn conversed together and were friendly.
[Yuán] Liàng was chaste and firm and had scholarly learning, hated Hé Yàn and Dèng Yáng and the rest, and wrote papers ridiculing and criticizing them. His position reached Intendant of Hénán and the Secretariat. (1)
- (1) Jìn Zhūgōng Zàn states: Liàng’s son Càn appellation Yízǔ, in literature studies was widely learned, repeatedly became a classicist official, and reached the Secretariat.
[Yuán] Bà’s younger brother Huī for his scholarly nature was praised. When he encountered the realm Under Heaven’s chaos, be fled to Jiāozhōu. The Excellency Over the Masses recruited him, but he did not arrive. (2)
- (2) Yuán Hóng’s Hànjì states: Previously, the realm Under Heaven was about to be disordered, and Huàn thus sighed: “The Hàn House is exhausted, and chaos is few days away. If the realm Under Heaven is disturbed, where can one escape to safety? If Heaven has not lost the Way, the people can be preserved. Only the strong and with courtesy can preserve themselves!” Huī said: “The ancients had a saying: “To know opportunity is to be divine.’ To meet opportunity and take it is the superior gentleman’s foundation luck. Heaven’s ways has its rise and fall, and Hàn has fallen! To have great achievement there must be great affairs, and this is also what the superior gentleman deeply notes, and retreats and hides in secret. Moreover weapons and armor both rise, and outside problems must be many, so I will go far across mountains and seas, in order to seek escape for myself.” When chaos arrived, each acted according to their plans.
[Yuán] Huī’s younger brother Mǐn had military ability and was good at water achievements [canal/irrigation building], and his office reached River Dike Consultant.