Máo Jiè appellation Xiàoxiān was a Chénliú Píngqiū man. When young he became a county official, and for his pure fairness was praised. He was about to flee the chaos to Jīngzhōu, but before he arrived, he heard Liú Biǎo’s government was not enlightened, and therefore went to Lǔyáng. Tàizǔ governed Yǎnzhōu, and recruited him as Internal Manager Advisor. Jiè said to Tàizǔ: “Now the realm Under Heaven is divided and ruined, the state’s ruler wandering, people abandon industry, suffering famine and exile, the pubic reserves do not have even a year’s worth of supplies, the common people have no hope of security, and it is hard to last long. Now Yuán Shào, Liú Biǎo, though their troops and people are many and strong, both do not think of the long term, and have not set up their foundations. In warfare the righteous are victorious, defending position to gain wealth, so it is appropriate to welcome Heaven’s Son to control the disobedient, restore plowing and planting, raise army supplies, and in this way the enterprise of hegemony can be achieved.” Tàizǔ respected and accepted his advice, and transferred him to Tent Office Merit Officer.
When Tàizǔ was Excellency of Works and Chancellor, Jiè always was East Department Official, and with Cuī Yǎn both managed recruitment and promotions. All those he recruited were pure and upright scholars, and though at times there were those with great reputation but lacking in conduct and foundations, in the end none of these were advanced. He focused on using frugality to lead people, and therefore of the realm Under Heaven’s scholars none did not use incorruptible integrity to conduct themselves, so that even noble and favored ministers in their carriages and clothes did not dare be excessive. Tàizǔ sighed and said: “Employing men like this allows the people of the realm Under Heaven to govern themselves. What can I add to that?”
Wén-dì became Five-Purposes General, and personally paid respects to Jiè and his followers and relatives. Jiè answered: “This old servant for his ability to observe his duties, was favored and gained pardons for faults. Now the people I have proposed are not promoted in order, and therefore I do not dare accept these orders.”
The main army returned to Yè, and discussed how to reduce its structure. Jiè asked to visit but did not go, the people at the time feared him, and all wished to close the East Department, so therefore they all reported: “Of old the West Department was superior, and the East Department next. It is appropriate to close the East Department.” Tàizǔ knew the situation, his order read: “The sun rises in the east, the moon rises in the east, and when the common people speak of direction, the also first say east. How can we close the East Department?” Therefore he closed the West Department.
Previously, Tàizǔ pacified Liǔchéng , organized the captured supplies, and specially bestowed the white silk curtains and white small tables on Jiè, saying: “You sir have the manner of the ancients, and therefore the tools of the ancients are bestowed on you.”
Jiè held prominent position, but always wore plain clothes and ate vegetarian food, fostered his orphaned elder brother’s son with deep sincerity, his rewards he distributed to his poor relatives, and his household had no surplus. He was promoted to Right Master of the Army.
Wèi state was first established , and he became Secretariat Deputy-Director, again managing recruitment and promotion. (1)
- Xiānxián Xíngzhuàng “Backgrounds of Worthies” states: Jiè was elegant and fair, and in office was pure and scrupulous. His rules in promotions and recommendations, selected the chaste and true, expelled the flowery and false, advanced modest conduct, and restrained flatterers. All officials whose merits in governing people yet privately enriched themselves, he all dismissed and expelled, and for a long time they were not employed. At that time within the Four Seas was compliant and obedient, and none were not encouraged to good conduct. Up to even the Chief Clerk all that returned, had dirty face and worn clothes, and always rode only worn simple and crude carts. Military officials when entering offices, always walked in Court dress [not armor]. People sought the honesty of boiling food, families imitated the integrity of washing tassels, the wealthy had no sort of dirty greed, the poor had no wish for stolen wealth, officials were honest above, customs improved below, and people even to today still praise that time.
At the time the Heir-Apparent was not yet selected, but Marquis of Línzī [Cáo] Zhí was favored. Jiè secretly remonstrated: “Recently did not distinguish between principal son and other sons, destroying his family and state. In determining great affairs it is not suitable to follow that.” Later the various officials gathered, Jiè rose to change his clothes, Tàizǔ watched and pointed at him saying: “This is what the ancients called the state’s manager of the upright, my own Zhōu Chāng.”
When Cuī Yǎn was about to die, Jiè inside was displeased. Later someone reported Jiè saying: “When going to see the one [punished] with tattooed face, whose wives and children were arrested to become official slaves, Jiè said: ‘This is the way to make the heavens not rain.’” Tàizǔ was greatly furious, and arrested Jiè and imprisoned him.
Grand Judge Zhōng Yáo interviewed Jiè and said: “Since the ancient sagely and enlightened rulers, guilt includes the wives and children. The Shū says ‘If your left does not follow my left, and your right does not follow my right, then I will wipe out your descendants.’ The responsibilities of the manager of criminals, is that sons become official slaves and daughters become grain beaters. In Hàn Law, the guilty man’s wives and daughters are arrested to slaves and his face is tattooed. The Hàn Law’s use of the face tattoo punishment comes from ancient regulations. Now true slaves have ancestors who were criminals, and though a hundred generations have passed, yet there are still tattooed faces and dismissals from office, first in order to be lenient to the lives of good people, second in order to forgive the sins of the criminal. How can this be in opposition to the intentions of spirits, and bring about drought? According to standard experience, worry is cold, comfort is warm, leniency leads to excessive light, and therefore there is drought. Jiè in your spoken words, are they lenient, or are they worried? If they are worried then it is dark and wet, so how can it instead be drought? In Chéng Tāng’s sagely era, wild fields had no grass; when Zhōu Xuān ruled, drought was oppressive. Since the several drought came, it has been thirty years, and blaming it on a tattooed face, is that worthy of a minister? When Wèi attacked Xíng, the army raised and it rained, and crimes did not summon it, so how was it answering Heaven? Jiè, your words of ridicule and slander, have flowed down to the people, and his noise of displeasure, has risen up for the sagely to hear. Jiè, your spoken words, its effect is not only in words, at the time you saw the tattooed face, how many people were there? The tattooed face slave, was it someone you knew? Why when you saw it did you answer with such sigh and speech? At the time who were you talking to? What were the answers? What day and moon? Where was it? The matter is already revealed, and cannot be concealed, so all should be answered.”
Jiè said: “I your Servant have heard that when Xiāo Shēng was strangled to death, the cause was Shí Xiǎn; when Jiǎ-zǐ was exiled, it was due to slander from [Marquis of] Jiàng [Zhōu Bó] and Guàn [Yīng]; Bái Qǐ bestowed sword on [ordered suicide of] Dù Yóu; Cháo Cuò was executed at the East market; Wǔ Yuán ended his life at Wúdū; of these people, some were envied at first, some were harmed afterward. I your servant from when I lost my milk teeth held to simplicity, accumulated industriousness to obtain office, was employed in critical and near positions, collecting personnel matters. Of my subordinate ministers with selfish affairs, none did not have their power cut off, in speaking of ministers’ grievances, none were not thoroughly investigated. Personal relationships for profit, is by the law restrained; law in the restraint of profit, has the power to cause harm. Blue-green files grow unrestrained, slander me, and the people who slander me, their power is not elsewhere. In the past Wáng Shū and Chén Shēng argued over the correctness of the Royal Court, Xuān-zǐ judged and reasoned, ordered both to raise their arguments, for right and wrong to be followed, crooked and straight to be found. The Chūnqiū praised this, and therefore it was recorded. If I your servant do not speak of this, then there would be no other time or person [to hear]. The words spoken against me certainly must have a reason. I ask for arbitration like that of Xuān-zǐ, and seek the correction of Wáng Shū. If I your servant have done wrong, on the day of the punishment, I am willing to receive the death by four horses [pulling me apart]. If bestowed with a sword [be ordered to suicide], I would compare it to the kindness of the greatest reward. That is my solemn answer.”
At the time Huán Jiē and Hé Qià advanced to urge sparing Jiè. Jiè therefore was spared and dismissed, and died at home. (1) Tàizǔ bestowed coffin and utensils and cash and silk, and appointed his son [Máo] Jī as Palace Gentleman.
- Sūn Shèng states: Wèi Wǔ [Cáo Cāo] therefore failed in governing punishments. The Yì says “Enlighten and decide imprisonment” and the [Zuó] Zhuàn has “Raise the upright to manage the crooked.” When imprisonment is enlightened then the state has no complaining people, when the crooked are straightened then the people have no disobedience, there will be no wish for the false noise of blue-green files, or trust in spreading slander and complaints. The one able to fairly govern the Four Seas, is only the one who is pure and splendid. In the past Hàn Gāo [Liú Bāng] imprisoned Xiāo Hé, but released him and again made him Chancellor. Jiè for one fault, was forever expelled. These two rulers in their magnanimity, how different they were!