Jeremy

the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and

What Cao Cao said was this:

“the eunuch evil is of very old standing,

but the real cause of the present trouble is in

the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and

the misplaced favoritism they have enjoyed. But a gaoler would

be ample force to employ against this kind of evil, and getting rid of

the main culprits is quite enough. Why increase confusion

by summoning troops from the regions?

Any desire to slay all of them will speedily become known, and the plan will fail.”

“then, Cao Cao, you have some scheme of your own to further,” said He Jin with a sneer.

Cao Cao left the meeting, proclaiming, “The one who throws the world into chaos is He Jin!”

then He Jin sent swift, secret letters far and wide to several bases.

It must be recalled that Dong Zhuo had failed in his attempt to

destroy the Yellow Scarves rebellion. He would have been punished

if he had not bribed the Ten Eunuchs heavily for their protection.

Later, through connections in the capital, he obtained rapid promotions

from General to General of the Front Army, to Lord of Aoxiang, to Imperial

Protector in the western region of Xizhou and Commander of

an army of two hundred thousand troops. But Dong Zhuo

was treacherous and disloyal at heart. So when he received the

summons to the capital, he rejoiced GREatly and lost no

time in obeying it. He left a son-in-law, Commander Niu Fu,

to look after the affairs of Xizhou and set out for Luoyang.

Dong Zhuo took with him a huge army and four

generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, and Fan Chou.

Dong Zhuo’s adviser and son-in-law, Li Ru, said,

“Though a formal summons has come,

there are many obscurities in it.

It would be well to send up a memorial stating plainly

our aims and intentions. Then we can proceed.

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Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with

Corrupted by these, He Miao

He Miao.

Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with his sister Empress He and said,

“The General is the chief support of the new Emperor, yet he is no

t gracious and merciful but thinks wholly of slaughter.

If he slays the eunuchs without cause, it may bring about revolution.”

Soon after He Jin entered and told her of his design to put the eunuchs to death.

She argued with him, “Those officials look after palace

affairs and are old servants. To kill the old servants just after the

death of their master would appear disrespectful to the dynasty’s ancestral temple.”

And as He Jin was of a vacillating mind, he murmured assent and left her.

“What about it?” said Yuan Shao on meeting him.

“She will not consent. What can be done?”

“Call up an army and slay them. It is imperative. Never mind her consent!”

“That is an excellent plan,” said He Jin. And he sent orders all round to march soldiers to the capital.

But Secretary Chen Lin objected, “Nay! Do not act without due consideration.

The proverb says ‘To cover the eyes and snatch at swallows is to fool oneself.’

If in so small a matter you cannot attain your wish, what of great affairs?

Now by virtue of the emperor and with the army under your hand, you are

like prancing tiger and soaring dragon: You may do as you please. To use such

enormous powers against the eunuchs would bring victory as easily as lighting up

a furnace to burn a hair. Only act promptly: Use your powers and smite at once,

and all the empire will be with you. But to summon forces to the capital,

to gather many bold warriors into one spot, each with different schemes,

is to turn our weapons against our own person,

to place ourselves in the power of another.

Nothing but failure can come of it, and havoc will ensue.”

“The view of a mere book-worm,” said He Jin with a smile.

Then one of those about He Jin suddenly clapped his hands,

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The eunuchs persuaded the ladies to retire.

The eunuchs persuaded the ladies to retire.

But in the night Empress He summoned her

brother into the Palace and told him what had occurred.

He went out and took counsel with the principal officers of state.

Next morning a court was held and a memorial was presented, saying:

“Empress Dong, being the foster mother of Liu Xian,

Prince of Chenliu, a regional prince—only a collateral—cannot properly

occupy any part of the Palace. She is to be removed into her

riginal fief of Hejian and is to depart immediately.”

And while they sent an escort to remove Empress Dong,

a strong guard was placed about the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong’s

dwelling. They took away his seal of office and he, knowing this

was the end, killed himself in his private apartments. His dependents,

who wailed his death, were driven off by the guards.

The eunuchs Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, having lost their patroness,

sent large gifts to He Jin’s younger brother, He Miao, and his mother,

Lady Wuyang, and thus got them to put in a good word to

Empress He so as to gain her protection.

And so they gained favor once more at court.

In the sixth month of that year, the secret emissaries of He Jin

poisoned Empress Dong in her residence in the country.

Her remains were brought to the capital and buried in Wen Tombs*.

He Jin feigned illness and did not attend the funeral.

Commander Yuan Shao went one day to see He Jin, saying, “

The two eunuchs, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, are spreading the

report outside that you has caused the death of the late empress and

is aiming at the throne. This is an excuse for you to destroy them.

Do not spare them this time, or you will pay like Dou Wu and Chen Fan,

who in the previous reign missed their chance because the secret had not

been kept, and they paid by their own deaths. Now you and

your brother have many commanders and officers behind,

so that the destruction of the eunuchs can be but an ease.

It is a heaven-sent opportunity. Delay no further!”

But He Jin replied, “Let me think it over.”

He Jin’s servants overheard the discussion and secretly

informed the intended victims,

who sent further gifts to the younger brother 

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“Slay them, root and branch,

“Slay them, root and branch,

” cried Yuan Shao, “or they will ruin you!”

“I have decided,” said He Jin, coldly. “Say no more.”

Within a few days He Jin became Chair of the Secretariat,

and his associates received high offices.

Now Empress Dong summoned the eunuch

Zhang Rang and his party to a council.

Said she, “It was I who first brought forward the sister of He Jin.

Today her son is on the throne, and all the officials are her friends,

and her influence is enormous. What can we do?”

Zhang Rang replied, “Your Highness should administer the state from

‘behind the veil’; create the late Emperor’s son Liu Xian a prince; give your brother,

the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong, a high rank,

and place him over the army; and use us. That will do it.”

Empress Dong approved. Next day she held a court and issued an edict in the sense

proposed. She made Liu Xian Prince of Chenliu and Dong Chong

General of the Flying Cavalry*, and she allowed the eunuchs again to participate state affairs.

When Empress He saw this, she prepared a banquet to

which she invited her rival Empress Dong.

In the middle of the feast, when all were well warmed with wine,

Empress He rose and offered a cup to her guest, saying,

“It is not fitting that we two should meddle in state affairs. In the beginning of the Han Dynasty,

when Empress Lu laid hands upon the government, all her clans were put to death*.

We ought to remain content, immured in our palaces,

and leave state affairs to the state officials.

That would be well for the country, and I trust you will act thus.”

But Empress Dong only got angry, saying,

“You poisoned Lady Wang out of jealousy. Now,

relying upon the fact that your son sits on the throne and that

your brother is powerful, you speak these wild words.

I will command that your brother be beheaded,

and that can be done as easily as I turn my hand!”

Empress He in her turn became wroth and said,

“I tried to persuade you with fair words. Why get so angry?”

“You low born daughter of a butcher,

what do you know of offices?” cried Empress Dong.

And the quarrel waxed hot.

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At this assembly a man spoke

At this assembly a man spoke

against the plot,

“The influence of the eunuchs dates back a century and a

half, during the reigns of Emperors Chong and Zhi.

It has spread like a noxious weed in all directions.

How can we hope to destroy it? Above all keep

this plot secret, or our whole clans will be exterminated.”

He Jin eyed down and saw General of Military Standards Cao Cao.

He Jin was very angry at this speech and cried,

“What do inferiors like you know of the ways of government?”

And in the midst of the confusion Pan Yin came to say:

“The Emperor is no more. The eunuchs have decided to keep

the death a secret and forge a command to the Regent Marshal to

come into the Palace to settle the succession. Meanwhile

to prevent trouble they have inscribed the name of Prince Xian on the roll.”

And as Pan Yin finished speaking, the edict arrived summoning He Jin.

“The matter for the moment is to set up the rightful heir,

” said Cao Cao. “We can deal with the traitors later.”

“Who dare to join me in supporting the rightful heir—Prince Bian?”

asked He Jin, the Regent Marshal.

At once one stood forward, crying, “Give me five thousand veterans,

and we will break into the Palace, set up the true heir, slay the eunuchs,

and sweep clean the government! Then peace will come to the empire.”

The energetic speaker was Yuan Shao, son of the former Minister of

the Interior Yuan Feng and nephew of Imperial Guardian Yuan Wei.

Yuan Shao then held the rank of Imperial Commander.

He Jin mustered five thousand royal guards. Yuan Shao put on

complete armor and took command. He Jin, supported by He Yong,

Xun You, Zheng Tai, and more than thirty other ministers and

high-rank officials, went into the Palace. In the hall where lay the coffin

of the late Emperor, they placed Liu Bian on the throne. After

the ceremony was over and all had bowed before the new Emperor,

Yuan Shao went in to arrest Eunuch Jian Shuo. Jian Shuo in terror

fled into the Palace garden and hid among the shrubs, where he was

discovered and murdered by Guo Sheng, one of the Ten Eunuchs.

The guards under Jian Shuo’s command all surrendered.

Yuan Shao said, “Their gangs have broken.

The most opportune moment is now to slay all the eunuchs!”

But Zhang Rang and the eunuchs of the Ten scented the

danger and rushed to see Empress He.

They said, “The originator of the plan to injure your brother

was Jian Shuo: Only he was concerned and no other.

Now the Regent Marshal, on Yuan Shao’s advice,

wishes to slay everyone of us. We implore your pity, O Your Majesty!”

“Fear not!” said Empress He,

whose son had just become Emperor, “I will protect you.”

She sent for her brother, and said, “You and I are of lowly origin,

and we owe our good fortune to the eunuchs.

The misguided Jian Shuo is now dead, and need you really

put all the others to death as Yuan Shao advises?”

And He Jin obeyed her wish. He explained to his party, saying,

“The real offender, Jian Shuo, has met his fate, and his clan will be

punished. But we need not exterminate the whole party nor injure his colleagues.”

Yuyang being now tranquil,

Yuyang being now tranquil,

Liu Bei’s services were reported to

the Throne, and he received full pardon for the insult to the imperial

inspector. He was made Deputy Magistrate of Xiami, then Commanding

Officer of Gaotang. Then Gongsun Zan praised Liu Bei’s former services,

and he was promoted to Magistrate of Pingyuan. This place was very prosperous,

and Liu Bei recovered something of his old manner before the days of adversity.

Liu Yu also received preferment and was promoted to Grand Commander.

In the summer of the six year of Central Stability (AD 189),

Emperor Ling became seriously ill and summoned He Jin into the Palace

to arrange for the future. He Jin had sprung from a humble family of

butchers, but his sister had become a concubine of rank and borne a son to

the Emperor, named Liu Bian. After this she became Empress He,

and He Jin became the powerful Regent Marshal*.

The Emperor had also greatly loved a beautiful girl, Lady Wang,

who had borne him a son named Liu Xian. Empress He had poisoned

Lady Wang from jealousy, and the baby had been given into the care

of Empress Dong, who was the mother of Emperor Ling. Lady Dong

was the wife of Liu Chang, Lord of Jiedu. As time went on and the

Emperor Huan had no son of his own, he adopted the son of Liu Chang,

who succeeded as the Emperor Ling. After his accession, Emperor Ling had

taken his own mother into the Palace to live and had

conferred upon her the title of Empress Dowager.

Empress Dong had always tried to persuade her son to name Liu Xian as the

Heir Apparent, and in fact the Emperor greatly loved the boy and was

disposed to do as his mother desired. When his end was near, one of the eunuchs,

Jian Shuo, said, “If Liu Xian is to succeed, He Jin must be killed to prevent countermoves.”

The Emperor saw this too. He placed Jian Shuo in command of

the eight armies of the West Garden in order to check Liu Bian’s

supporters. And he summoned He Jin to come to him.

But at the very gate of the Forbidden City, He Jin was warned of his

danger by Commander Pan Yin who said,

“This must be a trap of Jian Shuo to destroy you!”

He Jin rushed back to his quarters and called many of the

ministers to his side, and they met to

consider how to put the eunuchs to death.

Yuyang being now tranquil,

Yuyang being now tranquil,

Liu Bei’s services were reported to

the Throne, and he received full pardon for the insult to the imperial

inspector. He was made Deputy Magistrate of Xiami, then Commanding

Officer of Gaotang. Then Gongsun Zan praised Liu Bei’s former services,

and he was promoted to Magistrate of Pingyuan. This place was very prosperous,

and Liu Bei recovered something of his old manner before the days of adversity.

Liu Yu also received preferment and was promoted to Grand Commander.

In the summer of the six year of Central Stability (AD 189),

Emperor Ling became seriously ill and summoned He Jin into the Palace

to arrange for the future. He Jin had sprung from a humble family of

butchers, but his sister had become a concubine of rank and borne a son to

the Emperor, named Liu Bian. After this she became Empress He,

and He Jin became the powerful Regent Marshal*.

The Emperor had also greatly loved a beautiful girl, Lady Wang,

who had borne him a son named Liu Xian. Empress He had poisoned

Lady Wang from jealousy, and the baby had been given into the care

of Empress Dong, who was the mother of Emperor Ling. Lady Dong

was the wife of Liu Chang, Lord of Jiedu. As time went on and the

Emperor Huan had no son of his own, he adopted the son of Liu Chang,

who succeeded as the Emperor Ling. After his accession, Emperor Ling had

taken his own mother into the Palace to live and had

conferred upon her the title of Empress Dowager.

Empress Dong had always tried to persuade her son to name Liu Xian as the

Heir Apparent, and in fact the Emperor greatly loved the boy and was

disposed to do as his mother desired. When his end was near, one of the eunuchs,

Jian Shuo, said, “If Liu Xian is to succeed, He Jin must be killed to prevent countermoves.”

The Emperor saw this too. He placed Jian Shuo in command of

the eight armies of the West Garden in order to check Liu Bian’s

supporters. And he summoned He Jin to come to him.

But at the very gate of the Forbidden City, He Jin was warned of his

danger by Commander Pan Yin who said,

“This must be a trap of Jian Shuo to destroy you!”

He Jin rushed back to his quarters and called many of the

ministers to his side, and they met to

consider how to put the eunuchs to death.

And they wept bitterly.

And they wept bitterly.

The Emperor turned angrily to Liu Tao, saying,

“You also have servants: Why can’t you bear with mine?”

And thereupon the Emperor called to the guards to eject Liu Tao and put him to death.

Liu Tao cried aloud, “My death matters nothing.

The pity is that Han Dynasty, after four centuries of reign, is falling fast!”

The guards hustled him away and were just about to carry out the

Emperor’s order when a minister stopped them, shouting,

“Strike not! Wait till I have spoken with His Majesty.”

It was the Minister of the Interior, Chen Dan. He went in to

the Emperor, to whom he said,

“For what fault is Counselor Liu Tao to be put to death?”

“He has vilified my servants and has insulted me,” said the Emperor.

“All the empire would eat the flesh of the eunuchs if they could,

and yet, Sire, you respect them as if they were your parents.

They have no merit, but they are created nobles. Moreover,

Feng Xu was in league with the Yellow Scarves.

Unless Your Majesty looks to it, the state will crumble!”

“There was no proof against Feng Xu,” replied the Emperor. “

About the Ten Eunuchs, are there none faithful among them?”

Chen Dan beat his forehead on the steps of the throne and did

not desist from remonstrance. Then the Emperor grew angry and

commanded his removal and imprisonment with Liu Tao.

That night Liu Tao and Chen Dan were murdered.

Then the eunuchs sent a forged edict to Sun Jian making

him Governor of Changsha, with orders to suppress

the rebellion of Ou Xing. In less than two months

Sun Jian reported the county all tranquil. For this he was created Lord of Wucheng.

Further, Liu Yu was made Imperial Protector of

Youzhou to move against Yuyang and suppress Zhang Ju and

Zhang Chun. Liu Hu of Daizhou recommended Liu Bei to Liu Yu. Liu Yu

welcomed Liu Bei and gave him rank of commander and sent him against

the rebels. He fought with and worsted them and entirely broke their spirit.

Zhang Chun was cruel, and his leaders turned against him. One of his officers

then slew him and brought in his head, after which the others submitted.

The other leader Zhang Ju saw that all was lost and killed himself.

“Noble Sir, save me!”

“Noble Sir, save me!” cried the inspector.

Now Liu Bei had always been kindly and gracious,

wherefore he bade his brother release the officer and go his way.

Then Guan Yu came up, saying, “Brother, after your magnificent services you only

got this petty post, and even here you have been insulted by this fellow.

A thorn bush is no place for a phoenix. Let us slay this fellow,

leave here, and go home till we can evolve a bigger scheme.”

Liu Bei contented himself with hanging the official seal about the inspector’s neck, saying,

“If I hear that you injure the people, I will assuredly kill you. I now spare your life, and I return to you the seal. We are going.”

The inspector went to the governor of Dingzhou and complained, and orders were issued

for the arrest of the brothers, but they got away to Daizhou and

sought refuge with Liu Hu, who sheltered them because of Liu Bei’s noble birth.

By this time the Ten Regular Attendants had everything in their hands,

and they put to death all who did not stand in with them. From every officer

who had helped to put down the rebels they demanded presents; and if

these were not forthcoming, he was removed from office. Imperial

Commanders Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues and

were deprived from offices, while on the other hand the eunuchs

received the highest honors and rewards. Thirteen eunuchs were ennobled,

including Zhao Zhong* who was added to the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry;

Zhang Rang* possessed most of the prize farms around the capital.

The government grew worse and worse, and everyone was irritated.

Rebellions broke out in Changsha led by Ou Xing, and in Yuyang led by

Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Memorials were sent up in number as snow flakes in

winter, but the Ten suppressed them all. One day the Emperor was at a feast in

one of the gardens with the Ten, when Court Counselor Liu Tao

suddenly appeared showing very great distress. The Emperor asked what the matter was.

“Sire, how can you be feasting with these when the empire is at the last gasp?” said Liu Tao.

“All is well,” said the Emperor. “Where is anything wrong?”

Said Liu Tao, “Robbers swarm on all sides and plunder the cities.

And all is the fault of the Ten Eunuchs who sell offices and injure the

people, oppress loyal officials and deceive their superiors. All virtuous

ones have left the services and returned to their places, and are building and

guarding their positions. More regional offices have been sought than imperial

appointments. Central authority is being undermined by local interests. Misfortune is before our very eyes!”

At this the eunuchs pulled off their hats and threw themselves at their master’s feet.

“If Minister Liu Tao disapproves of us,” they said, “we are in danger.

We pray that our lives be spared and we may go to our farms.

We yield our property to help defray military expenses.”

Magistrate, what was your origin?

“Magistrate, what was your origin?”

Liu Bei replied, “I am descended from Prince Sheng of Zhongshan.

Since my first fight with the Yellow Scarves rebels at Zhuo County,

I have been in some thirty battles, wherein I gained some trifling merit. My reward was this office.”

“You lie about your descent, and your statement of services is false!” roared the inspector.

“Now the court has ordered the reduction of your sort of low class and corrupt officials.”

Liu Bei muttered to himself and withdrew. On his return to the magistracy, he took council with his secretaries.

“This pompous attitude only means the inspector wants a bribe,” said they.

“I have never wronged the people to the value of a single coin: Then where is a bribe to come from?”

Next day the inspector had the minor officials before him and forced them to bear witness that their

master had oppressed the people. Liu Bei time after time went to rebut this charge,

but the doorkeepers drove him away and he could not enter.

Now Zhang Fei had been all day drowning his sorrow in wine and had drunk far too much. Calling for

his horse he rode out past the lodging of the inspector, and at the gate saw a small

crowd of white-haired people weeping bitterly. He asked why.

They said, “The inspector has compelled the underlings to bear false witness against our

magistrate, with the desire to injure the virtuous Liu Bei. We came to

beg mercy for him but are not permitted to enter. Moreover, we have been beaten by the doorkeepers.”

This provoked the irascible and half intoxicated Zhang Fei to fury. His eyes opened

wide until they became circles; he ground his teeth; in a moment he was off his steed,

had forced his way past the scared doorkeepers into the building, and was in the rear apartments.

There he saw Imperial Inspector Du Biao sitting on high with the official underlings in bonds at his feet.

“Oppressor of the people, robber!” cried Zhang Fei. “Do you know me?”

But before the inspector could reply, Zhang Fei had had him by the hair and had

dragged him down. Another moment he was outside and firmly lashed to the

hitching post in front of the building. Then breaking off a switch from a willow tree,

Zhang Fei gave his victim a severe thrashing, only staying his hand when the tenth switch was too short to strike with.

Liu Bei was sitting alone, communing with his sorrow, when he heard a shouting before his door. He asked what the matter was.

They told him, “General Zhang Fei had bound somebody to a post and was thrashing him!”

Hastily going outside, Liu Bei saw who the unhappy victim was and asked Zhang Fei the reason.

“If we do not beat this sort of wretch to death, what may we expect?” said Zhang Fei.