Wáng Jī appellation Bóyú, was a Dōnglái Qūchéng man. When young he was orphaned, and with his father’s younger brother [Wáng] Wēng resided. [Wáng] Wēng fostered and raised with extreme sincerity, and Jī also for filial piety was praised. Aged seventeen years, the prefecture summoned him as an official, this was not what he enjoyed, and he therefore left, entering Lángyé’s border to travel and study.
During Huángchū [220-226], he was nominated Filial and Incorrupt, appointed Cadet Internal. At the time Qīng [province] territory was newly settled, the Inspector Wáng Líng specially memorialized to request Jī as Aide-de-Camp, later he was summoned to be Confidential Documents Cadet, [Wáng] Líng again requested his return. Shortly afterward, Excellency over the Masses Wáng Lǎng recruited Jī, [Wáng] Líng did not send him. [Wáng] Lǎng’s letter impeaching the province stated: “The best of household ministers, then should ascend to the Duke’s assistance, the best of the Duke’s ministers, then should enter to the King’s offices. Therefore the ancient Marquis and Earls had ritual of candidate tributes. Now the province fetches a night guard’s minister, and detains a confidential cabinet’s official, this is rarely heard of.” [Wáng] Líng still did not send him. That [Wáng] Líng was praised in Qīng territory, overall was also due to Jī’s harmonizing assistance.
General-in-Chief Sīmǎ [Yì] Xuān-wáng recruited Jī, he had not yet arrived, and was promoted to Central Documents Attendant Cadet.
Míng-dì extensively repaired palaces and residences, and the common people toiled overworked. Jī sent up memorial that said: “I your servant have heard the ancient people used water as analogy for the people, stating: ‘Water is what carries the boat, and also what overturns the boat.’ Therefore the one above the people, cannot be not wary. If the people are leisurely then considerations are easy, if bitter then thoughts are hard, and therefore the former kings resided themselves in frugality, so as to not create troubles. In the past Yán Yuān spoke of Dōngyě-zǐ’s chariot, the horse’s strength was exhausted and yet he sought to advance without end, and therefore knew he was about to be defeated. Present matters of conscripted labor and bitter toil, men and women are separated and apart, may Your Majesty deeply investigate Dōngyě’s faults, retain thoughts of the analogy of boats and water, stop rushing horse teams that are not yet exhausted, and save strength of conscripted labor that is not yet destitute. In the past Hàn held the realm Under Heaven, reaching Xiào-Wén’s time there were only same surname vassal lords, but Jiǎ Yì worried of this stating: ‘To set fire below accumulated fuel and then lie above it, and therefore call it safe.’ Now the bandit rebels are not yet exterminated, fierce officers wield soldiers, if restraining them then there is nothing to meet the enemy, if for a long time using them then it is difficult to leave things for later, for an extensively enlightened era, to not engage in removing troubles, if posterity does not fight, it is the State Altar’s worry. If Jiǎ Yì again rose, he would certainly deeply feel for former times.”
Cavalier Regular Attendant Wáng Sù wrote explanations for various classics and decided on Court ceremonies, changing from Zhèng Xuán’s old theories, but Jī held to [Zhèng] Xuán’s meanings, always with [Wáng Sù] contending. He was moved to Ānpíng Administrator, and due to official matters left office. General-in-Chief Cáo Shuǎng requested him to be Attending Matters Internal Cadet, and sent him out to be Ānfēng Administrator. The prefecture bordered the Wú bandits, in governance he was pure and strict and had prestige and kindness, clearly established preparations, and the enemy did not dare invade. He was added office as Suppressing Bandits General.
Wú once greatly mobilized armies to gather at Jiànyè, spreading reports they wished to enter to attack Yángzhōu, the Inspector Zhūgě Dàn sent Jī to plan against this. Jī said: “In the past Sūn Quán twice reached Héféi, once reached Jiāngxià, and afterward Quán Cóng set out against Lújiāng, Zhū Rán plundered Xiāngyáng, and all without achievement returned. Now Lù Xùn and the rest are already dead, and [Sūn] Quán is old, inside [the palace] without worthy successor, inside [the Court] without strategic master. If [Sūn] Quán personally sets out then he will fear internal quarrels will arise, ulcers and rot festering; if he sends officers then the old officers are already gone, the new officers not yet trusted. This is nothing more than wishing to mend and settle branch factions, and they will return to defending themselves and that is all.” Later [Sūn] Quán indeed was not able to set out.
At the time Cáo Shuǎng concentrated power, public decency declined, Jī wrote Shí Yāo lùn “Discussion of the Time’s Important maters” to explain the situation. Claiming illness he asked to return, left home to be Hénán Intendant, before he was appointed, [Cáo] Shuǎng was executed, Jī once had been [Cáo] Shuǎng’s staff official, and following precedent was dismissed.
That year he became Secretariat, was sent out to be Jīng Province Inspector, added office Raising Ardent General, accompanying Campaigning South General Wáng Chǎng in striking Wú. Jī separately attacked Bù Xié at Yílíng, [Bù] Xié shut gates and defended himself. Jī showed appearance of attacking, but in fact divided troops to capture Xióngfù’s supply stores, seizing rice of over 300,000 hù, capturing [Wú’s] Securing North General Tán Zhēng, and the surrendered were several thousand. Therefore he moved the surrendered people, to install a Yílíng county. He was bestowed noble rank as Marquis Within the Passes. Jī also memorialized to build city walls at Shàngchǎng, move Jiāngxià’s capital to it, in order to put pressure on Xiàkǒu, and therefore the rebels did not dare recklessly cross the Jiāng. He had clear regulations, organized the army and agriculture, and also cultivated schooling, and the south praised him.
At the time the Court discussed wishing to attack Wú, Imperial Order had Jī judge the suitability of advancing. Jī replied: “If troops act but are without achievement, then authority is broken outside, wealth is used up inside, and therefore it must be certainly secure and only afterward used. If there are no preparations for resource transport streams and gathering provisions and naval battles, then although there is accumulation of troops within the Jiāng, there is no certainty of having power to cross it. Now Jiānglíng has the Jǔ and Zhāng two rivers, irrigating fertile fields in the thousands. Ānlù’s left and right are pools and ponds rich and fertile. If water and land are joined in agriculture, to secure army resources, then afterward draw troops to visit Jiānglíng and Yílíng, dividing to occupy Xiàkǒu, and follow the Jǔ and Zhāng, on the waters float grain and go downstream. The rebels know the officers and soldiers have long-lasting strength, then intentions of resisting heavenly punishment are destroyed, and increases in turning toward the ruler’s influence is assured. Afterward lead and gather the Mán and Yí to attack their interior, elite troops and stalwart soldiers to suppress their exterior, then Xiàkǒu and above is certain to be taken, and the prefectures outside the Jiāng cannot be defended. In this way, Wú’s and Shǔ’s connection is cut off, the connection cut off and Wú is taken. If not, then the success of soldiers setting out, cannot be certain.” Therefore it stopped.
Sīmǎ [Shī] Jǐng-wáng newly controlled the government, Jī’s letter exhorting him said: “The realm Under Heaven is of utmost broadness, all things are of utmost plenty, and truly cannot be not industrious in action, to sit and wait for dawn. If will is upright then the multitude of evils are not produced, if heart is tranquil then the multitude of matters is not tense, if thoughts are examined and settled then teaching and command are not troubled, if intimacy uses loyalty and goodness then far and near cooperate and submit. Therefore one knows harmonizing the distant is on self, settling the masses is on heart. Xǔ Yǔn, Fù Jiǎ, Yuán Kǎn, Cuī Zàn all are the time’s upright scholars, have straightforward character and are without drifting heart, and can with you together govern affairs.” Jǐng-wáng accepted this advice.
The Duke of Gāoguī village succeeded the honored throne , and advanced his fief to Marquis of Chánglè precinct. Guànqiū Jiǎn and Wén Qīn created chaos. Appointed Jī as Acting Supervisor of the Army, with Acting Staff of Authority, to command the Xǔchāng Army, to follow with [Sīmǎ Shī] Jǐng-wáng to meet at Xǔchāng.
Jǐng-wáng said: “How do you plan against [Guànqiū] Jiǎn and the rest?”
Jī said: “Huáinán’s rebellion, is not the officials and people thinking of chaos, it is [Guànqiū] Jiǎn and the rest deceiving and coercing them to fear, they are fearful of immediately being killed, and therefore still gather together and that is all. If the main army overlooks and pressures them, they will certainly collapse apart, and [Guànqiū] Jiǎn’s and [Wén] Qīn’s heads, within a morning will be hanging from the army’s gates.”
Jǐng-wáng said: “Excellent,” and therefore ordered Jī to occupy the army’s front.
Commentators all believed [Guànqiū] Jiǎn’s and [Wén] Qīn were ferocious, and difficult to with them fight and contend. Imperial Order on Jī to stop and wait. Jī believed: “[Guànqiū] Jiǎn and the rest raised an army sufficient to penetrate deeply, but for a long time did not advance, this is their falseness already revealed, their armies’ hearts suspicious and dejected. Now to not widely display powerful appearance to support the people’s hopes, but stop the army and build high ramparts, is to appear afraid and timid, and not use the power of the soldiers. If some of the caitiffs plunder the people, and also in the provinces and prefectures the soldiers’ families are by the rebels captured, then they will even more harbor departing hearts; those that [Guànqiū] Jiǎn and the rest coerced, look on themselves as having heavy crimes, and do not dare again return, this is to evade the soldiers’ useless land, and accomplish the origins of the traitors. If the Wú bandits answer them, then Huáinán will not be the state’s possession, and Qiáo, Pèi, Rǔ, and Yù will be endangered and unstable, this is a plan of great failure. The army should quickly advance to occupy Nándùn, Nándùn has large storage stations, calculated to be sufficient for the army men for forty days of provisions. Protect strong city walls, and therefore amass grain, the first men have the heart to seize men, this is critical to pacifying the rebels.”
Jī repeatedly requested, and therefore was allowed to advance to occupy the Yǐn river. When he arrived, he again said: “With troops one hears of clumsy speed, and never observes skillful delay. Right now outside there are strong bandits, inside there are rebelling ministers, if it is not timely decided, then the matter’s severity cannot be measured. Of commentators many wish for me the General to be cautious. For the General to be cautious is correct, to stop the army and not advance is wrong. Caution is not called not acting, but advancing and yet not making mistake and that is all. Now occupying strong city walls, protecting ramparts, to give accumulated supplies to the caitiffs, and distantly transport military provisions, is an extremely wrong plan.”
Jǐng-wáng wished to wait for the various armies to gather and arrive, and still did not give permission. Jī said: “When the officer is at the army, of the ruler’s commands there are those that are not accepted. If they gain then they benefit, if we gain then we benefit, this is called a disputed city, and what Nándùn is.” Therefore he at once advanced to occupy Nándùn, [Guànqiū] Jiǎn and the rest from Xiàng also wished to go, had set out over ten lǐ, heard Jī had first arrived, and again returned to protect Xiàng.
At the time Yǎn Province Inspector Dèng Ài garrisoned Yuèjiā, [Guànqiū] Jiǎn sent Wén Qīn to command troops to attack [Dèng] Ài. Jī knew their strength was divided, and advanced soldiers to pressure Xiàng, and [Guànqiū] Jiǎn’s armies were therefore defeated. [Wén] Qīn and the rest were pacified, he was promoted to General Defending South, Regional Commander of Yù Province’s various military affairs, designate Yù Province Inspector, advanced in fief to Marquis of Ānlè village. He sent up memorial requesting to divide out households of two hundred, to bestow on his father’s younger brother’s son Qiáo noble rank as Marquis Within the Passes, to repay the virtue of his father’s younger brother’s raising of him. There was Imperial Order specially allowing this.
Zhūgě Dàn rebelled , Jī with his original office was Acting General Defending East, Regional Commander of Yáng’s and Yù’s various military affairs. At the time the main army was at Xiàng, and as the rebel soldiers were elite, Imperial Order had Jī hold back the army on strong ramparts, Jī repeatedly reported requesting to advance to suppress. It happened that Wú sent Zhū Yì to come rescue [Zhūgě] Dàn, and the army was at Ānchéng.
Jī again was given Imperial Order to lead the various armies to transfer and occupy the northern mountains, Jī said to the various officers: “Now the encircling ramparts are becoming secure, the troops and horses are coming to gather, we should merely with elite preparations defend and prepare to wait for them to flee, but to again move troops to defend rugged terrain, is to cause them to escape, and even the wise will not be able to deal with the aftermath.”
Therefore he held to expedience and sent up memorial that said: “Now with the rebel groups confronting, we should not move like a mountain. If we move to depend on rugged terrain, the people’s hearts will be shaken and dissolute, and power will be greatly decreased. The various armies all occupy deep moats and high ramparts, the multitudes’ hearts are all settled, and cannot be upset and moved, this is critical to managing troops.” The letter was presented, and the reply accepted.
General-in-Chief Sīmǎ [Zhāo] Wén-wáng advanced to garrison Qiūtóu, dividing divisions to encircle and defend, each having their own commander. Jī commanded the city’s east and city’s south of twenty-six armies, Wén-wáng ordered the army officials to defend the southern division border, that not one was to be able to escape. Inside the city the provisions were exhausted, day and night attacked the ramparts, Jī at once resisted and struck, and defeated them.
Shòuchūn was taken, Wén-wáng with a letter to Jī said: “At first the commentators talked and talked, and those requesting movement were very many, at the time [I] was not yet overlooking the situation, and also said it was appropriate to do so. You General deeply calculated the benefits and harms, alone maintained firm will, above disobeying Imperial Order, below refusing the multitude of commentators, in the end reaching control of the enemy and capture of the rebels, even what the ancients narrated, do not surpass this.”
Wén-wáng wished to send the various officers with light troops to penetrate deeply, to beckon and welcome Táng Zī and the rests’ junior relatives, to take advantage of quarrels to weaken and overturn Wú’s power. Jī remonstrated stating: “In the past Zhūgě Kè followed up on Dōngguān’s victory, exhausting the soldiers beyond the Jiāng, to encircle Xīnchéng, the city was not taken, and the armies’ dead were over half. Jiāng Wéi took advantage of the Táo’s upstream success, with light troops penetrating deeply, the army provisions were not connected, and the army was overturned at Shàngguī. After a great triumph, high and low think little of the enemy, and if thinking little of the enemy then considerations of difficulty are not thorough. Now the rebels are newly defeated outside, and also their inside troubles are not yet resolved, this is their time to fix preparations and considerations. Moreover the troops have set out for over a year, people have wishes to return home, now the captured and dead are a hundred thousand, the criminal is taken, since the campaigns of past ages, there has never been a secured army and total victory like now in magnificence. Wǔ Huángdì [Cáo Cāo] overcoming Yuán Shào at Guāndù, since what he captured was already many, did not again pursue those fleeing, fearing a loss of power.” Wén-wáng therefore stopped.
As Huáinán was newly settled, transferred Jī to Campaigning East General, Regional Commander of Yáng Province’s various military affairs, advanced in fief to Marquis of Dōngwǔ. Jī sent up memorial firmly declining, giving credit to his accompanying assistants, and because of this his Chief Clerk and Major and others of seven men all became Marquis.
That year, Jī’s mother died, Imperial Order kept secret this inauspicious news, and welcomed Jī’s father Bào to be buried together with her at Luòyáng, posthumously titling Bào as Adminsitrator of Běihǎi.
Gānlù Fourth Year , transferred to be General Campaigning South, Regional Commander of Jīng Province’s various military affairs. the Duke of Chángdào village succeeded the honored throne, increased his fief by a thousand households, adding to the previous to 5700 households. From beginning to end fief was given on his sons of two men as a precinct Marquis and Marquis Within the Passes.
Jǐngyuán Second Year , the Xiāngyáng Administrator memorialized that the Wú bandit Dèng Yóu and others wished to come submit, Jī was given Imperial Order, to take advantage of this to shake beyond the Jiāng. Jī suspected this was deception, and with fast relay explained the situation. Moreover he said: “Since Jiāpíng onward, repeatedly there have been internal troubles, the present’s affairs, should be in defending and securing the State Altars, securing and pacifying the common people, it is not yet suitable to move the maries to seek outside benefits.”
Wén-wáng’s reply letter said: “Of those handling affairs, most bend their appearance to follow and obey me, few are able to truly able to together with me thoroughly reason the truth. Truly I am moved by your loyalty and love, every time I see your admonishment, at once I respectfully depend on the coming direction.”
Later [Dèng] Yóu and the rest indeed did not surrender. (1)
- (1) Sīmǎ Biāo’s Zhànlüè records Jī in this matter, more detailed than the base biography. It says:
- Jǐngyuán Second Year Spring Third Moon, Xiāngyáng Administrator Hú Liè memorialized: “Wú bandit Dèng Yóu, Lǐ Guāng, and others, together planning with eighteen garrisons, wish to come submit, sending officers Zhāng Wú, Dèng Shēng, and further sending hostage appointments. On a specified date they wish to lead the prefecutre army to overlook the Jiāng to welcome capture.” General-in-Chief Sīmǎ [Zhāo] Wén-wáng reported this news. Imperial Order on General Campaigning South Wáng Jī to divide the various armies, and send [Hú] Liè to command ten thousand men on direct route on the Jǔ river, Jīngzhōu, Yìyáng south to garrison Yíchéng, to on receiving the letter in the morning set out. If [Dèng] Yóu and the rest as scheduled arrived, it would be convenient to because of this shake beyond the Jiāng.
- Jī suspected the bandits were fiening surrender, to entice the sending of officers and troops, and with fast relay stopped Wén-wáng, saying Yóu and the rest had suspicious appearance. “Moreover we should clear [up the situation], it is not yet appropriate to quickly raise heavy troops to penetrate deeply to answer them.”
- He also said: “Yílíng’s east road, should use chariots and carriages, reaching Chì bank then can they cross and ferry. The west road from Jiànxīkǒu, only there is level ground, everywhere else is mountains and rugged and narrow terrain, bamboo and wood thick and flourishing, if in the end there is trouble, crossbows and horses cannot line up. Now the tendon and horn on the crossbows are weak, water and rain newly falling, to abandon affairs of flourishing agriculture, to seek benefits that are difficult to be certain of, this matter is dangerous. In the past in the Zǐwǔ campaign, the soldiers traveled several hundred lǐ and encountered continuous rain, the bridges and storehouses were ruined and destroyed, behind the provisions were rotten, and ahead the army was exhausted. Jiāng Wéi penetrated deeply, not waiting for heavy transport wagons, his soldiers and armies starved, and overturned the army at Shàngguī. Wén Qīn and Táng Zī raised Wú’s heavy troops, seeking benefit at Shòuchūn, they died and did not return. This all are recent matters to reflect upon. Since Jiāpíng onward, repeatedly there have been internal troubles, at present it is suitable, to defend and secure the State Altars, support and pacify high and low, put strength in agriculture and attending to foundations, conciliate and appease the common people, it is not yet appropriate to move the armies to seek outside benefits. Obtaining it yet it is not sufficient to be much, losing it then the harm and losses are very heavy.”
- Wén-wáng repeatedly obtained Jī’s letters, and became doubtful. He sent orders on the various armies already on the road, to temporarily stop where they were, and wait for later decisions.
- Jī also said to Wén-wáng: “In the past Hàn [Gāo]zǔ accepted Lì Shēng’s persuasion, wishing to give fief of the Six States, but was awakened by Zhāng Liáng’s planning, and quickly melted down the seals. I Jī in planning and consideration am narrow and shallow, and truly do not match the Marquis of Liú [Zhāng Liáng], but also fear Xiāngyáng [Hú Liè] will produce such a mistake [as Lì Shēng’s proposal].”
- Wén-wáng therefore stopped the army preparations, and later [Dèng] Yóu and the rest indeed did not surrender.
That year Jī died, posthumously titled Excellency of Works, posthumous name Jǐng-hóu “Visionary Marquis.” His son Huī succeeded, and early died. During Xiánxī, established the Five Ranks, and for Jī’s various achievements to the previous dynasty, changed fief of Jī’s grandson Yì, and with Dōngwǔ’s remaining households bestowed on one son noble rank as Marquis Within the Passes.
The Jìn House ascended, and sent down Imperial Order that said: “Former Excellency of Works Wáng Jī had outstanding virtue and established achievements, also managed himself pure and plan, not striving for wealthy and property, for long time he was in important appointment, his family had no personal stores, and this can be called self dying but conduct glorious, sufficient to be used as encouraging example. Thus with slave servants of two people bestow on his family.”