(38.6) Qín Mì 秦宓 [Zǐchì 子敕]

Qín Mì appellation Zǐchì was a Guǎnghàn Miánzhú man. When young he had talent and learning, the province and prefecture recruited him, at once he claimed illness and did not go. He memorialized note to provincial Governor Liú Yān, recommending Classicist Scholar Rén Dìngzǔ that said: “In the past Bǎilǐ and Jiǎnshū were in their seventies and eighties and yet settled plans, Gān Luó and Zǐqí were children uncapped and yet established achievement, and therefore the Shū beautifies yellowed hair [of old age] but the praises [young] Yán Yuān, and assuredly knowing that selecting elites and employing the able is not confined to age or youth, it is clear. Therefore recently, within the seas in examining and promoting, led mostly [young] outstanding talents and omitted [old men of] old teeth, the mass of opinions were not in agreeemen, the supporting and opposing each about half, this then is a prosperous and peaceful time’s soaring steps, not a chaotic time’s urgent task. To wish to rescue from danger and calm chaos, cultivate self to secure others, then it is appropriate for the outstanding and eminent to surpass human order, to with the times change priorities, shake and alarm neighboring states, startle and move the four quarters, above accept Heaven’s heart, below join with Man’s intentions; when Heaven and Man are in harmony,internals examined without disease, even if encountering vicous chaos, what worry and what fear [is there]? In the past Chǔ Yègōng enjoyed dragons, a divine dragon came down for him, [if] feigned enjoyment reached Heaven, then all the more for the real. Now resident scholar [unemployed in civil service] Rén Ān, is benevolent and righteous with upright principle, reputation spreading the four distances, if he is ordered to meet for examination, then the whole province will thus submit. In the past Tāng promoted Yī Yǐn, the not benevolent were distant, Hé Wǔ presented the two Gōng, both names written on bamboo and silk, therefore to be greedy for common height and neglect the vast mountain, to delight in ornaments in front and forget the praises of the realm Under Heaven, this truly is what the ancients seriously warned against. With wishes to chisel stones to extract jade, cut open clams to seek pearls, now then a Suí [famed for having a pearl] and Hé [famed for finding a jade annulus] clearly appears, like a bright sun, again what is there to doubt? Truly [I] know in daytime to not use candles, the sun has abundance of light, but I humbly have trifling emotions, and greedily explain what [I] have seen.”


  • (1) Yìbù Qíjiù zhuàn states: [Rén] Ān, Guǎnghàn man. When young took as a teacher Yáng Hòu, investigated completely diagrams and registers, traveling and reading in the capital, returned home to give lectures, with Dǒng Fú both due to scholarship having equal reputation. The prefecture invited him to be Merit Officer, the province recruited him as Central manager Aide-de-Camp, to the end he did not long reside. Nominated as Filial and Incorrupt and as Abundant Talent, the Excellency Commandant also recruited him, appointed Academic Scholar, Excellency Carriage summoned him, every time he claimed illness and would not accept. Provincial Governor Liú Yān memorialized to recommend Ān as elite and principled, strict in integrity and highly profound, considering his ability and tolerance, the state’s fundamental treasure, and should occupy position to assist in assessing doubts, to eliminate unusual calamities. Dark crimson rituals, is appropriate for recruitment order. The ruler’s road was cut off and blocked, and therefore there was no corresponding order. Aged seventy-nine years, Jiàn’ān Seventh Year [202] died, his disciples admired him, and for hm established a stone tablet monument. Later Chancellor [Zhūgě] Liàng asked Qín Mì about Ān’s strengths, Mì said: “[He] remembered people’s goods, forgot people’s mistakes.”

〔一〕 益部耆舊傳曰:安,廣漢人。少事聘士楊厚,究極圖籍,游覽京師,還家講授,與董扶俱以學行齊聲。郡請功曹,州辟治中別駕,終不久居。舉孝廉茂才,太尉載辟,除博士,公車徵,皆稱疾不就。州牧劉焉表薦安味精道度,厲節高邈,揆其器量,國之元寶,宜處弼疑之輔,以消非常之咎。玄纁之禮,所宜招命。王塗隔塞,遂無聘命。年七十九,建安七年卒,門人慕仰,為立碑銘。後丞相亮問秦宓以安所長,宓曰:「記人之善,忘人之過。」

In Liú Zhāng’s time, Mì’s same prefecture’s Wáng Shāng became Internal Manager Attending Official, with Mì wrote letter that said: “[To be] poor and lowly and in destitution, also how is that they way to spend life? Biàn Hé showed off jade to glorify the world, [you] should once come, and with the province’s honored mutually meet.”

Mì’s reply letter said: “In the past Yáo exalted Xǔ Yóu, it was not ungenerous, [but he] washed his ears and that is all. Chǔ hired Zhuāng Zhōu, it was not unextensive, [but he] held pole and did not look back. The Yì states: ‘Indeed it cannot be pulled out.’ What showing off is there? Moreover with the state lord’s worthiness, your excellent assistance, to not at this time established Xiāo [Hé] and Zhāng [Liáng]’s strategies, is not sufficient to be wise. For me to be able to sunbathe back in the fields, recite Yán-shì’s Dānpiáo, sing Yuán Xiàn’s Pénghù, for a time soaring through woods and ponds, with Jǔ and Nì’s sort, listening to dark ape’s sorrowful cries, investigating crane calls in the nine marshes, calming self as joy, being without worry as fortune, occupying empty reputation, living like an ineffective tortoise, [if] those who know me are few, then I am ennobled. This then is the season for me to obtain my will, what sorrow of destitution is there?”

Later [Wáng] Shāng for Yán Jūnpíng and Lǐ Hóng established sacrifices, Mì with him wrote letter that said: “In illness lying in hiding, [I] only recently learned that you sir for Yán and Lǐ established shrine, it can be said to be generosity to compatriots and diligence to one’s kind. Observing Yán’s written works, it crowns Heaven’s Under with Yóu and Yí’s outstanding elegance, [like a] mountain unchangeable, even if Yáng-zǐ had not sighed [in admiration], assuredly it on its own would shine and illuminate. If Lǐ Zhòngyuán had not encountered the Fǎyán, his name would certainly have been lost, this is because he was without a tiger or leopard’s patterns, it can be said to be a hanging onto dragon and attaching to phoenix. If Yáng-zǐ is said to have poured heart into writing, to have benefits for the world, coiling mud without being dirtied, conduct in accord with sagely teachers, to the present within the seas speaks and sings his words. The country having this man, to glorify the four distances, it is strange that you omit him and do not establish sacrificial hall. Shǔ originally was without scholars, Wénwēng sent Xiāngrú east to receive the Seven Classics, he returned and taught the officials and people, and therefore Shǔ’s scholarship matched with Qí and Lǔ. Therefore the Dìlǐ zhì “Treatise on Geography” states: ‘Wénwēng introduced their teachings, Xiāngrú became its teacher.’ The Hàn House obtaining elites, flourished in its age; Zhòngshū’s sort, did not understand Fēngshàn [sacrifices], Xiāngrú regulated its rituals. The ability to regulate ritual and construct music, shift custom and change convention, is it not how ritual orders and has benefit to the world? Although there were Wángsūn’s accumulations, yet Kǒngzǐ praised Qí [Duke] Huán’s hegemony, Gōngyáng honored Shūshù’s yielding. I also praise the senior minister’s transformative influence, it is appropriate to establish sacrificial hall, and quickly determine its inscriptions.”


Before this, Lǐ Quán from Mì borrowed Zhànguó cè, Mì said: “The Warring states were harsh and unreasonable, for what are you using it?”

Quán said: “Zhòngní and Yán Píng gathered and assembled multitudes of books to complete the Chūnqiū’s and Zhǐguī’s writings, therefore the sea by uniting flows becomes large, the gentleman by widely learning becomes great.”

Mì replied: “Books that were not historian records or Zhōu diagrams, Zhòngní did not select; principles (dào) that were not void and self-natural, Yán Píng did not practice. The sea by receiving silt, takes a year to be washed pure; the gentleman in widely learning, if it is not proper he does not inspect. Now the Zhànguó repeatedly has Yí and Qín’s methods, to kill people to save oneself, to abandon people to preserve oneself, what classics despise. Therefore Kǒng-zǐ made effort in composing the Chūnqiū to glorify in residing in the correct, and again systematized the Xiàojīng, to expand and explain morality and conduct. To nip in the bud, to in advance have restraints, is thus how Lǎo-shì cut off disaster from the not yet sprouted, how can it not be trusted in? Chéng Tāng was a great sage, observed fields and fish but had failures in hunting and chasing, Duke Dìng was a worthy, saw women and music and abandoned Court affairs, (1) Things of this kind, how can it be all listed? The Dào school methods states: ‘Not seeing what is desired, causes the heart to not be in chaos.’ Therefore Heaven and Earth are pure in observation, the Sun and Moon are pure in illumination; its straightness like an arrow, what the gentleman treads. Hóngfàn records disasters, issuing from words and appearances, why have the Zhànguó‘s deceitful expedience?”

  • (1) Your Servant Sōngzhī cites: Books record that Lǔ Duke Dìng was without goods worth praising. Mì in calling him a worthy, is superficial study leading to not understanding.


〔一〕 臣松之案:書傳魯定公無善可稱。宓謂之賢者,淺學所未達也。

Someone said to Mì: “You sir wish yourself to compare to Cháo, Xǔ, the Four Elders, why then raise literary elegance to see exceptional gifts?”

Mì replied: “My writings cannot exhaustively explain my words, my words cannot exhaustively explain my intentions, what literary elegance is there to raise? In the past Kǒng-zǐ thrice met Duke Āi, his words filled seven juàn, the matter overall had what could not be silenced. (1) Jiē walked and sang, theorists used it to explain writings; Yúfù sang Cānglàng, worthies used it glorify essays. These two men, were without any desires from the times. Tigers from birth have brilliant stripes, phoenixes from birth have all colors, how can it be selecting out to self ornament and draw? Innate nature is self-resultant. Overall the and Luò by writings flourished, the Six Classics by writings rose, the gentleman admiring literary virtues, selecting elegance is of what harm? With my foolishness, yet it is shameful to remove Zǐchéng’s errors, all the more for worthies to myself!” (2)


  • (1) Liú Xiàng’s Qī lüè states: Kǒng-zǐ thrice met Duke Āi, made Sān Cháo jì in seven piān, at present it is in Dà Dài Lǐ.
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī cites: Zhōngjīngbù has Kǒng-zǐ’s Sān Cháo jì in eight juàn, one juàn is table of contents, the rest is what is called the seven piān.

〔一〕 劉向七略曰:孔子三見哀公,作三朝記七篇,今在大戴禮。臣松之案:中經部有孔子三朝八卷,一卷目錄,餘者所謂七篇。

  • Your Servant Sōngzhī cites: The present Lúnyǔ has it as Jī Zǐchéng. Zǐchéng said: “A gentleman is character and nothing more, what use is the literary?” He submitted to Zǐgòng’s argument, and therefore it calls it an error.

〔二〕 臣松之案:今論語作棘子成。子成曰:「君子質而已矣,何以文為!」屈於子貢之言,故謂之誤也。

When Xiānzhǔ settled Yì [214], Guǎnghàn Administrator Xiàhóu Zuǎn invited Mì to be Teacher Friend Libationer, managing Five Office officials, calling him Zhòngfù. Mì claimed illness, lied down at home, [Xiàhóu] Zuǎn led Merit Officer Gǔ Pǔ and Registrar Wáng Pǔ to prepare meals at Mì’s mansion to feast and converse, Mì laid down as before.

[Xiàhóu] Zuǎn asked [Gǔ] Pǔ: “As for how your honored province allows for making a living, it truly is better than other provinces, but one does not know how the scholars compare to other provinces?”

Pǔ replied saying: “From former Hàn onward, in their noble ranks some did not compare to other provinces. As for writings taken as the world’s teachings and models, it does not fail other provinces. Yán Jūnpíng saw Huáng and Lǎo and composed Zhǐguī, Yáng Xióng saw the Yì and composed Tàixuán, saw Lúnyǔ and composed Fǎyán, Sīmǎ Xiángu for Emperor Wǔ standardized the Fēngshàn [sacrifices] writing, to now all Under Heaven has all heard.”

Zuǎn said: “Zhòngfù, how about it?”

Mì with a register struck cheek, (1) and said: “May you enlightened official not take I Zhōngfù’s words to be used as minor manuscripts. I request to for you enlightened official explain its fundamental records. Shǔ has Wènfù mountain, the Jiāng is produced from its belly, gods from this join prosperity, spirits from this establish fortune, therefore it is able to have fertile fields of a thousand lǐ. (2) The Huái and Jì four rivers, the Jiāng is of these the foremost, this is first. Yǔ was born at Shíniǔ, the present Wènshān prefecture is this. (3) In the past Yáo encountered flood, Gǔn could not control it, Yǔ dredged the Jiāng and breached the Hé, pouring east into the sea, for the people removing harm, from since the birth of humanity onward of achievements none are greater, this is second. Heavenly God spread and managed Fángxīn [sky region], determined and governed Sānfá [sky region], Sānfá then is Yì province’s field allocation [the matching of sky region to geographical region]. The Three Augusts rode carriage through Gǔkǒu, it is the present Xiégǔ. (4) This then is our humble province’s outlines, enlightened official with this valued intention discuss it, how does it compare to Heaven’s Under?”

Therefore Zuǎn hesitated back and forth without any reply.


  • (1) A Register is a hand block.

〔一〕 簿,手版也。

  • (2) Hétú Kuòdì xiàng states: Mín mountain’s lands, above is Dōng jǐng luò, gods from this join prosperity, spirits from this establish fortune, above is Tiānjǐng.
  • Zuǒ Sī’s Shǔ dū fù states: Afar then Mín mountain’s essence, above is Jǐng luò, Heaven and Earth shifting phase and joining prosperity, bright fortune scattering and rising formed.

〔二〕 河圖括地象曰:岷山之地,上為東井絡,帝以會昌,神以建福,上為天井。左思蜀都賦曰:遠則岷山之精,上為井絡,天地運期而會昌,景福(肹)〔肸〕蠁而興作。

  • (3) Dìwáng Shìjì states: Gǔn wed Yǒushēn clan’s daughter named Zhì, who was Xiūjǐ, ascended a mountain walking, saw shooting star piercing Mǎo [constellation], dreamed of catching and feeling, also of swallowing divine pearl, abdomen broke, and begat Yǔ at Shíniǔ.
  • Qiáo Zhōu’s Shǔ běnjì states: Yǔ originally was Wènshān Guǎngróu county man, born at Shíniǔ, the geographical name Kū’érpíng. See Shì Dì jì.

〔三〕 帝王世紀曰:鯀納有莘氏女曰志,是為脩己。上山行,見流星貫昴,夢接意感,又吞神珠,臆圮胸折,而生禹於石紐。譙周蜀本紀曰:禹本汶山廣柔縣人也,生於石紐,其地名刳兒坪,見世帝紀。

  • (4) Shǔ jì states: Three Augusts rode carriage out of Gǔkǒu.
  • It is unclear how Mì knew this was Xiégǔ.

〔四〕 蜀記曰:三皇乘祗車出谷口。未詳宓所由知為斜谷也。

Yì province recruited Mì as a Attending Official Libationer. When Xiānzhǔ [Liú Bèi] claimed honored title [221], about to campaign east against Wú, Mì explained that with heaven’s timing it certainly would be without benefit, in connection he was sent down to prison and shut away, afterward he was pardoned and released.

Jiànxīng Second Year, Chancellor [Zhūgě] Liàng was designate Yì province Governor, selected Mì to welcome as Aide-de-Camp, then appointed Left Internal Cadet General and Cháng River Colonel. Wú sent envoy Zhāng Wēn to come visit, the hundred officials all went to the banquet. Everyone all gathered but Mì had not yet gone, Liàng sent envoy to hurry him, Wēn said: “Who is he?” Liàng said: “A Yì province scholar.”

When he arrived, Wēn asked: “Do you study?” Mì said: “Five chǐ [tall] children all study, why should [I] the lesser man!”

Wēn again asked: “Does heaven have a head?” Mì said: “It does.” Wēn said: “Where is it?” Mì said: “In the west. The Shī states: ‘then looked back west.’ By this considering it, the head is in the west.”

Wēn said: “Does heaven have ears?” Mì said: “Heaven resides high but hears the low. The Shī says: ‘Cranes call in the nine marshes, sound heard in the heavens.’ If it is without ears, how does it hear it?”

Wēn said: “Does heaven have feet?” Mì said: “It does. The Shī says: ‘Heaven strides difficulties, its sons do not conform.’ If it is without feet, how does it stride it?”

Wēn said: “Does heaven have a surname?” Mì said: “It does.” Wēn said: “What is its surname?” Mì said: “It is surnamed Liú.” Wēn said: “How do you know this?” Answered: “Heaven’s Son is surnamed Liú, therefore I from this know it.”

Wēn said: “Is the sun born in the east?” Mì said: “Though born in the east it dies in the west.” [Translator’s note: one suspects this is a not so subtle comparison between Wú in the east and Shǔ in the west.]

He answered questions like an echo, responding to sound and replying, and therefore Wēn was greatly deferential. Mì’s literary debating, was all of this sort.

Promoted to Minister of Agriculture, Fourth Year died.

Previously Mì observed that in writings of the Emperors’ lineage, the Five Emperors were all of the same clan, Mì explained the origins of this incorrectness. He also discussed stories of Emperors and Kings raising dragons, deeply having understanding and reasoning. Qiáo Yǔnnán when young repeatedly went to visit him, recording his speech in Chūnqiū Ránfǒu lùn [“Discussion of the Correct and Incorrect in the Chronicles“], the writing is many and therefore not recorded [here].


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