Appraisal states: The Wèi clan’s Kings and Dukes, emptily possessed the name of state territory, and had no true state altars, and also were restricted to on the borders stand apart, the same as a prison; their ranks and titles were not settled, large and small yearly changing; the kindness of bone and flesh kin was corrupted, the meaning of the Chángdì was abolished. The abusing of law, how could it reach to this!
- Yuán-zǐ states: Wèi’s rise, carried on after great chaos, the people were decreased and diminished, and they could not imitate the ancients at the beginning. Therefore the fief establishments of Marquis and Kings, all were sent to live in their lands, empty names and without true substance. The Kings’ states were given old troops of over a hundred men, to guard their states. Although they had titles of Kings and Marquis, yet they were in the same class as common fellows. Counties were partitioned a thousand lǐ away, without ceremonies of court conduct, bordering states were without systems of meeting. The various lords in traveling and hunting could not go over thirty lǐ, and also for them were set up officials to supervise the state in order to spy and investigate them. The Kings and Marquis all thought of taking on commoner clothing but could not obtain it. This both violated the righteousness of clan states and vassal screens, and also failed the kindness of close kin and bone and flesh.
- Wèishì Chūnqiū records Imperial Clansman Cáo Jiǒng’s sent up memorial:
- I your servant have heard that ancient kings, must establish those of same surname to enlighten kinship to kin, and must cultivate those of different surname to enlighten worthiness to worthy. Therefore the Zhuàn states: “Reward achievement, be kin to kin, intimate with the close, honor the worthy,” the Shū states: “Exceptional wisdom and eminent virtue, to be familial through nine degrees of relation,” and the Shī says: “Harboring virtue maintains tranquility, the clansmen maintains city wall.” By this observing things, if without worthies there are none to take part in raising achievement, if without family there are none to take part in assisting government.
- This principle of kinship to kin, if only used then gradually there will be weakness; the principle of worthiness to the worthy, if solely appointed then harmfully there will be seizure by force. The former sages knew this to be so, and therefore broadly sought both the near and the far and together used them; the near then had the firmness of clan allegiance and vassal defense, the far then had the assistance of benevolent worthiness and assistance in rule, the flourishing then had sharing together their governance, the declining then had sharing defense of their territory, the secure then had sharing benefit their fortune, the endangered then had sharing together their disaster. This reasoning, is the reason for the ability to possess their country, protect their state altars, successively continue for a long time, root to branch for a hundred generations.
- Now Wèi’s method of honoring the honorable although is enlightened, its principle of kinship to kin is not yet prepared. Does the Shī not say “Wagtails in the plains, brothers in misfortune.” By this speaking of it, it means brothers rescue each other in times of disturbance and chaos, are of the same heart amid worry and disaster, and though they have the anger of quarreling, they do not forget the matter of resisting disgrace. Why is this? Because their sufferings are the same.
- Now then it is not so, some are appointed but not valued, some are released but not appointed, in one morning the border reports alarm, they close doors and refuse, legs and arms do not support, the chest and heart have no guard. I your servant humbly ponder this, lying down unable to be at ease on the mat, thinking and offering red sincerity, offering report to the cinnabar watchtower. Solemnly compiling and gathering what is heard, to narrate and discuss successes and failures.
- Discussion states: In the past Xià, Yīn, and Zhōu successively had generations of several tens, but Qín in two generations perished. Why is this? The Three Dynasties’ rulers, with the realm Under Heaven shared their people, and therefore the realm Under Heaven was the same in their worries. The King of Qín alone regulated his people, and therefore when in danger none rescued. Those who with the people share in their happiness, people certainly worry at their worries; those who with the people are the same in security, people certainly rescue their dangers. The Former Kings knew that alone governing could not last long, and therefore with people together governed; they knew alone defending could not be firm, and therefore with people together defended. Using both the close and distant and both employing, joining the same and the different and together establishing, therefore the light and heavy is sufficient to mutually defend, the close and distant sufficient to mutually guard, merging together roads and passes, rebellious nature is not produced.
- Reaching their decline, [Qí Duke] Huán and [Jìn Duke] Wén commanded ritual; [when] buds and rushes were not offered as tribute, Qí led army to cut down Chǔ; [when] Sòng did not give cities to Zhōu, Jìn killed their chancellor. The King’s net slackened but again spread, the vassal lords were arrogant but again respectful. After the Two Overlords, gradually there was decline. Wú and Chǔ relied on the Jiāng, bore hard square cities, and though in their hearts hoped for the Nine Tripods, yet they feared and avoided the clansmen of the Jī [ruling family of Zhōu], treacherous nature scattered in their chest, rebellious plans vanished in their lips and mouth; is this not trusting and valuing close kin, appointing the worthy and able, branch and leaf luxuriant, stem and root depending on and sharing with them?
- From this afterward, they turned to attacking one another; Wú was absorbed by Yuè, Jìn divided into three, Lǔ was destroyed by Chǔ, Zhèng was combined into Hán. Reaching to the Warring States, the various Jī had declined, only Yān and Wèi alone survived, but both were weak and small, to the west threatened by strong Qín, to the south fearing Qí and Chǔ, worrying about destruction, not leisurely and together anxious. Reaching to the [Zhōu] King’s shame, demoted to commoner, yet branch and trunk locked together, able to occupy empty position, Within the Seas was without master, for over forty years.
- Qín occupied powerful and superior territory, used deceitful and cheating methods, campaigned east of the passes, nibbling away Nine States, reaching to Shǐhuáng, thus settling the Heaven Throne. Broad days like that [Zhōu], using force like this [Qín], is it not the method of deep and firm roots not being pulled out?
- The Yì states: “Their destruction their destruction, fastened to bush of mulberry.” Zhōu’s virtue can be said to be this. Qín observed Zhōu’s defeat, believed the small and weak met with seizure, and therefore abolished the Five Ranks of Nobility, established prefecture and county officials, abandoning the teachings of Ritual and Music, employing harsh government; the sons and younger brothers were without any size of fief, meritorious ministers were without any establishing land, inside was without clansmen to with oneself border and assist, outside was without vassal lords to be screen and defense, benevolent heart was not added to close kin, kind favor was not spread to branch and leaf; it is like cutting down legs and arms, alone appointing chest and belly, or floating boat on river and sea, and abandoning oar and paddle, observers for this are cold in heart, but Shǐhuáng calmly himself believed that Inside the Passes’ firmness, metal cities of a thousand lǐ, was the enterprise for posterity ruling for ten thousand generations, is this not perverseness!
- Therefore at the time Chúnyú Yuè remonstrated: “I your servant have heard that Yīn’s and Zhōu’s Kings, gave fief on sons and younger brothers and meritorious ministers for over a thousand years. Now Your Majesty is ruler over Within the Seas but your sons and younger brothers are commoners; in the end even with ministers like Tián Cháng Six Ministers, but without assistance, how can they rescue one another? Matters not learning from the ancients but able to last long, is not what I have heard of.”
- [Qín] Shǐhuáng listened to Lǐ Sī’s side persuasion and dismissed this commentary, so that on his death day, there was none to depend on, entrusting the realm Under Heaven’s heaviness to a common fellow’s hands, giving command to depose and enthrone to a treacherous minister’s mouth, thus allowing Zhào Gāo’s sort, to execute the Imperial Clan.
- Húhài from youth was accustomed to harsh teachings, when grown encountered his vicious father’s enterprise, could not revise regulations and change methods, favor and appoint his brothers, and instead learned from Shēn and Shāng, conferred in plans with Zhào Gāo; himself hidden in the palace, entrusting government to slanderous traitors, when about to die at Wàngyí, he begged to be made a commoner, how could he obtain it? Therefore then the prefectures and states left heart, the masses dispersed and rebelled, [Chéng] Shèng and [Wú] Guǎng instigated at the front, Liú [Bāng] and Xiàng [Yǔ] took advantage at the rear. Supposing if Shǐhuáng had accepted Chúnyú’s memorial, restrained Lǐ Sī’s opinion, divided up the provinces and states, dividing out to the royal sons and younger brothers, giving fief on the descendants of the Three Dynasties, rewarding the labors of meritorious ministers, the elites have constant ruler, the people have settled master, branch and leaf mutually supporting, head and tail employed, then even if descendants have conduct that loses principle, the time’s people without Tāng’s or Wǔ’s worthiness, treacherous plans not yet set out, and the traitors would already be killed, and how would a trifling Chén [Shèng] or Xiàng [Yǔ] again obtain their followers?
- Therefore Hàn Founder [Liú Bāng] wielded three chǐ sword, urged on crow gathering army, and within five years, thus achieved the Emperor’s enterprise. From opening inauguration onward, in their rising establishment of achievement and merit, there has never been any like the Hàn Founder in easiness. This cutting of deep roots is difficult to be achievement, destroying of rotten wood is easy with strength, the reasoning is powerful and correct. Hàn inspected Qín’s failings, gave fief on sons and younger brothers, and when the various Lǚ usurped power, plotting to endanger the Liú clan, but the reason the realm Under Heaven did not move, the reason the common people did not change hearts, was only because the vassal lords were strong and great, as a boulder firm and strong, and therefore [the Marquis of] Dōngmù and Zhūxū received order inside, and [the Kings of] Qí, Dài, Wú, and Chǔ became defenders outside. Supposing if Gāozǔ followed the destroyed Qín’s methods, neglecting the Regulations of Former Kings, then the realm Under Heaven would have already transferred, and not the Liú clan’s. However Gāozǔ established fiefs, lands surpassing ancient regulations, the large spanning provinces and combing prefectures, the small linking cities of several tens, high and low without separation, power comparable to the capital household, and therefore there was the Wú and Chǔ Seven States misfortune.
- Jiǎ Yì said: “If the vassal lords are strong and flourishing, chaos will develop and treachery rise. For the wish for governance and security in the realm Under Heaven, none is like establishing many vassal lords but decreasing their strength, to have power Within the Seas, be like body using arms, arms using fingers, then below there is no heart of betrayal, and above there is no matter of punishing and cutting down.” Wén-dì did not listen. Reaching Xiào-Jǐng, recklessly using Cháo Cuò’s plan, to reduce and remove vassal lords, the close resented, the far were shaken and afraid, Wú and Chǔ instigated plan, and five states followed the situation. The omen came from Gāo-dì, the quarrel concentrated with Wén and Jǐng, because the lenience exceeded regulation, and the urgency was not gradual. It is what is said if end is large it certainly breaks, if tail is large difficulty falls. Tail is the same as body, yet sometimes it does not follow, so all the more for tails not of the body, can it but fall?
- Wǔ-dì followed Zhǔfù’s policy, sending down extending kindness order, and from then afterward, Qí was divided into seven, Zhào divided into six, Huáinán in three cut, Liáng and Dài into five divided, and therefore by this declined, sons and younger brothers were feeble and weak, caring for clothes and food and taxation, not managing government affairs, some by [failure to tribute] alcohol and gold were dismissed and reduced, some by lacking descendants had states abolished.
- Reaching Chéng-dì, the Wáng clan usurped the Court. Liú Xiàng remonstrated: “I your servant have heard the noble clan, is the state’s branches and leaves; if branches and leaves fall then the stem and root have nothing to give shade. At present those of the same surnamed have become estranged, the mother’s party controls government, arranged in place of the Imperial Clan. An isolated and weak noble clan, is not how to protect and guard the State Altars, and secure and assure the state succession.” These words were deeply sincere, frequently said and extended, and though Chéng-dì was sorrowful and sighed yet he could not use it.
- Reaching Āi and Píng, the differently surnamed grasped power, falsely imitating Zhōu-gōng’s matter, but became Tián Cháng’s chaos, highly saluting but stealing the Heavenly Throne, in one morning taking as minister the Four Seas. The Hàn Imperial Clan’s Kings and Marquis, gave up seal and released ribbon, offered tribute to the State Altars, yet feared they could not be servants, some then making seal orders, praising [Wáng] Mǎng’s kindness and virtue, is it not tragic! By this speaking of it, it was not that the clansmen were only loyal and filial to Huī’s and Wén’s time, and rebellious to Āi’s and Píng’s time, only that their power was light and strength weak, and could not have settlement and that is all.
- Depending on Guāng-Wǔ Huángdì [Liú Xiù] erecting unworldly disposition, taking Wáng Mǎng and himself achieving, carrying on Hàn’s succession from its cutting off, how was this not the clansmen’s strength? But again not inspecting Qín’s faulty policy, inheriting Zhōu’s old regulations, they followed the King’s states’ methods, and by fortune there was boundless rule. Reaching to Huán and Líng, the eunuchs grasped judgement, the Court was without willing to die ministers, outside there was no states of same worry, the ruler isolated above, the ministers managing power below, root and end could not defend each other, body and head could not serve each other. Because of this the realm Under Heaven was a boiling tripod, the treacherous and vicious together competed, the Ancestral Temples burned to ash, the Palaces and Residences changed to wilderness, occupying the land of Nine Provinces, yet personally having nowhere to be safe, oh sorrow!
- Tàizǔ Wǔ Huángdì [Cáo Cāo] was of sagely enlightened disposition, both with divine military planning, shamed that the Ruler’s net was abolished and cut short, pitied the Hàn House’s overturning, like a dragon flew from Qiáo and Pèi, like a phoenix soaring over Yǎn and Yù, sweeping away the vicious and rebellious, destroying the whale salamanders, welcoming the Emperor from the western capital, setting capital at Yǐng city, virtue moving Heaven and Earth, righteousness moving Men and Spirits. Hàn’s clan served Heaven, abdicating the Throne to Great Wèi.
- Great Wèi’s rise, to the present is twenty and four years, observing Five Dynasties’ surviving and perishing and yet not using their long term policies, watching the front chariots capsizing and yet not changing direction; the sons and younger brothers reign over empty lands, rulers have and do not employ their people, the Imperial Clan is exiled to villages, do not hear of the state’s government, their power equal to common fellows, their influence identical to the ordinary masses; inside there is no firmness of deep roots that cannot be pulled, outside there is no assistance of boulder clan pledge, this is not how to secure the State Altars, to be an enterprise for ten thousand generations. Moreover the present provincial Governors and prefecture Administrators, like the ancient upright seniors and vassal lords, all span lands of a thousand lǐ, simultaneously with military appointment, some comparable to states of several men, some brothers together occupying; yet the Imperial Clan sons and younger brothers are without a single person among them, to with them maintain one another, and this is not how to have strong trunk and weak branch, and prepare for a ten thousand to one worry.
- The present’s employing the worthy, some exceed to be masters of famed cities, some become commanders of auxiliary armies, but of the Imperial Clan those with with civil abilities are certainly limited to small county officials, those with military abilities are certainly installed above a hundred men, such that the incorruptible and high scholars, completely devoted to serving inside, and men of talent and ability, are shamed to associate with those not of their company, and this is not the courtesy to urge and advance the worthy and able and commend the unique of the Imperial Clan.
- When the source is exhausted then the flow dries up, when the root rots then the leaves wither; many branches shade the root, when they fall the stem is isolated. Therefore the Yǔ states: “The centipede bug, to death is not rigid,” as its supports are many. This saying though small, can be an example for the large. Moreover fortified wall bases cannot be hurried and completed, authoritative name cannot in one morning be established, all have to be gradual, and establish them to have constituents. To give as example planting trees, after long time then hardening their root and stem, flourishing their branches and leaves, if hurriedly moving to mountain woods, planting below the palace towers, though heaping them with black mounds, warming them with spring sun, yet it does not save them from withering, and how can it leisurely grow? Trees are like close kin, soil like soldiers and people, establishing and installing not for a long time, then lightly down and slowly up, in peace occupying yet fearing their leaving and rebellion, so in danger what will it be like? Therefore the sagely King secures and is not leisurely, to consider dangers, stores and sets preparations, to fear destruction. Therefore violent winds in the end arrives but there is no fear of breaking and uprooting, the realm Under Heaven has changes but there is no misfortune of downfall.
- [Cáo] Jiǒng was Internal Regular Attendant [Cáo Téng]’s elder brother [Cáo] Shūxīng’s descendant, the Young Emperor [Cáo Fāng]’s cousin’s grandfather. At the time Heaven’s Son was young and immature, [Cáo] Jiǒng hoped to by this discussion move and inform Cáo Shuǎng, but [Cáo] Shuǎng could not accept.