Struck By Lightning From One’s Own Curse 雷殛自呪

Yan Dian had a wife who once engaged in an illicit affair, and also once stole a towel from the neighbouring household. The neighbours scolded and insulted her, so Dian himself uttered a curse: “If my wife did have a secret affair, and did steal your towel, may we be struck down by a great thunderclap. If not, may the same happen to you.” That evening there came the huge quake of a thunderbolt, and they were indeed struck down by the thunderer’s battle-axe. Below Dian’s ribs were the characters “Foolish Wife Protector”, and below his wife’s ribs the characters “Adultress Turned Thief”; this is something everyone should know.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.106 (Tale 183):

偃典有妻,嘗與人私,又嘗竊鄰家一手巾。鄰家詬駡,典乃自呪曰:「若我妻果與人私及竊汝手巾者,當為震雷所擊,否則汝亦如之。」是夕即雷霆大震,果皆斃於雷斧之下。典脅下有字,曰「癡人保妻」,妻脅下亦有字,曰「行姦為盗」,當使皆知。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

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Lightning Demolishes A Diviner’s Shop 雷撤卦肆

In Longquan County there was one Minister Si, who revered spirits and deities, and was devoted to good deeds. When Gan Yuan rebuilt the Jizhou Bridge, at the north gate he painted an image of the Heavenly King. There was a scholar Hu (his given name has been forgotten), who chiseled this out of the beam and moved it, renting it to Revisor Li as a sign for his divination business, where it was used to bring in profit. Hu Si brought the matter before the authorities as a lawsuit, but the circuit officials looked around and were afraid to make enquiries. Minister Si then took up the incense burner devoted to the Heavenly King, carried it around the town, and called on the heavens to curse him. Several days after, the skies darkened bringing rain and lightning, and the diviner’s shop was demolished. The townsfolk therefore named him ‘Hu King of Heaven’.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.106 (Tale 184):

雷撤卦肆

龍泉縣有四郎,敬信神佛,好為善事。幹緣再建濟州橋,於橋之北門繪一天王像。有胡學士不顯其名,鑿其梁柱,浮搭一間,賃與李祕校作卦肆以收利。胡四經官訟之,縣道觀望不敢問。四郎輒肩天王香鑪,繞市呼天以呪之。數日後,陰雨迅雷,竟撤卦肆。邑人以胡天王號之。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Seizing Somebody’s Garden 占人園地

Minister Zhao of Jiangxi had a garden next to that of Academician Chang, and despite numerous schemes to take it, had never succeeded. One day, Chang composed a poem on a deed making it over to him. The poem read:

All the heavens and earth are my pavilion,

Artifice and cunning may never become truth.

What use ‘inverting rain and flipping clouds’?

Cool breeze and bright moon care little for people.

We may go to Orchid Pavilion, but this is not the Jin,

The Peach Grotto Immortal laughs at Qin,

The garden is host and the self guest,

Ask: how many years may the self remain?

When Zhao received this poem, he did not dare accept the garden and returned it.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.105 (Tale 182):

占人園地

江西趙尚書,與常省元園相近,百計取之而不可得。一日,常作詩書契送之,詩曰:「乾坤到處是吾亭,機械從來未必真。覆雨翻雲成底事,清風明月冷看人。蘭亭禊事今非晉,桃洞神仙也笑秦。園是主人身是客,問君還有幾年身?」趙得詩,不敢受園以還之。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

A Warning Against Selling Ancestral Graves 戒賣祖墳

From the dingchou year of the Zhiyuan era (1278), for more than ten years, rich families found themselves impoverished, with almost nothing left, their ancestral tombs overgrown and dirty, unreachable for ancestral offerings; they could not bear to admit this even to themselves. Who would have thought that such a disaster could have been seen [105] outside the Sitingji? In the vicinity there was a scholar who, seeing a prominent family sell their ancestral graveyard, could not bear his indignation, and at night inscribed a poem on their wall. The next day, when the wall was seen, both buyer and seller were full of shame, and retreated to the central chamber to discuss the matter. I read the poem. Its language was direct and ardent, with benefit to customs and morality, so I set it down here, to serve as a warning to public ways. The poem reads:

A family selects by wind and water

For descendants in countless generations

Who could know that latecomers

Would sell off their ancestors’ land?

Bargaining over digging in the dead of night

Celebrating the drunken signing of contracts

The seller is certainly inhuman

The buyer is also an evil type

If the land is well-chosen

The house will stand in wealth and honour

Those who come to sell

Their land will bring no good

Those future descendants emerging

They break from the pattern of precedent

Pretending that new families have strength

How can the creator have such selfish intent?

Those with coffins are laid bare

Those without abandoned bones

When new generations slide to poverty

When may they ever find burial?

Can you know those ‘below the springs’ (i.e., in the nether world)

Make no plaint for justice to the throne?

Say not that heaven is vast and obscure,

But stand before it in fear of calamity.

Ah! Those with human hearts, they should look at this and change their plans.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.104-5 (Tale 181):

戒賣祖墳

至元丁丑以來,十數年間,富家零落殆盡,祖墳蕪穢,弔祭不至,自不忍言。誰謂其禍又有 [105] 出於《思亭記》之外者!近有一士人,見一名家出賣祖墳,不勝其憤,夜題詩於牆壁。次日,觀望如堵,買者、賣者皆有愧色,議中寢。吾讀其詩,語直而切,以其有益於風教,故錄於此,庶可為世俗之戒也。詩曰:「人家擇風水,子孫百世計。誰知後來者,反賣祖宗地。商量寅夜掘,醉後樂書契。賣者固非人,買者亦惡類。其地若果佳,其家長富貴。其人賣至此,其地必不利。他時出子孫,斷是傚此例。借曰異姓強,造物豈私意?棺存且暴露,無者骸骨棄。後代轉日貧,何時可薶瘞。安知泉下人,含冤不訴帝?勿謂天茫茫,禍患恐立至。」吁!有人心者,宜於此焉變計矣。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Taking Pills, Getting Ulcers 服丹發疽

The household of Instructor Ding Guang of Baozhou included many attendants and concubines, and he was deeply committed to wine and sexual pleasure. At that time there was a Daoist passing through the prefecture, who claimed to be a hundred years old and able to smelt great pills, the taking of which enabled the fulfilment of all sensual desires while retaining good health without danger of illness, and allowing later transcendent elevation to the heavens. The prefectural head provided him with accommodation, and presented his compliments. On a selected day, the pill baking began, smelting following his specific method, and after forty-nine days it was finished, its spirit-gleam illuminating the heavens. They arranged a banquet with music to celebrate together, planning to take the pills afterwards. When Guang heard of this, he wrote a letter to be presented, begging to be allowed a measure for his own recuperation. The Daoist was unwilling, due to his common bones, but the prefectural head begged that his request be fulfilled, so he received a half portion, and Guang took it with delight. Several days later, the prefectural commander and magistrate developed ulcers on their backs. The Daoist fled by night, and the prefectural head reported death after death. Guang himself developed boils on his waist, and became terrified, drinking yellow earth water to relieve it, and eventually recovered. The following year, he again developed a hot rash, and therefore soaked himself in a bath; when water entered the sores, he could no longer rise. Cinnabar poisoning is sometimes like this, so we record it here, as a warning to the public.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.104 (Tale 180):

服丹發疽

保州教授丁廣,家多侍妾,以酒色沉縱。會有道人過郡,自言數百歲,能煉大丹,服之可以飽嗜欲,而康健無疾,然後飛昇度世。守貳館之,以先生之禮事之。選日創丹竈,依其法煉之,四十九日而成,神光燭天。置酒大合樂相慶,然後嘗之。廣聞之,裁書以獻,乞取刀圭,以養病者。道人以其骨凡不肯與,守貳憐之為請,僅得半粒,廣欣然服之。不數日,郡將、通判皆疽發於背。道人宵遁,守貳相繼告殂。廣腰間生一癤,甚皇恐,飲地漿解之,得愈。明年,復作熱躁,因澡身,水入瘡囗,不能起。金石之毒,有如此者,故書於此,以為世戒也。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Taking A Pill And Catching Fire 服丹自焚

Zhu, known as Dingguan, served as Palace Superintendent at the end of the Zhenghe era (1111-18). He was twenty-eight at the time, and entertained himself with food and wine. One day, received a sudden summons to the inner palace, and the emperor (Huizong, 1100-25) addressed him: “We have recently gained an extraordinary person, able to produce cinnabar pills, which if taken increase longevity. We have observed the long smelting process, and a year having passed they are finished, coloured like the finest gold; my minister will try them.” Dingguan leapt for joy as he humbly accepted [104] the decree, then took the medicine. Immediately after swallowing, he felt a great agitation within his chest. Soon after, smoke began to pour from his mouth. Urgently carried out, he was already beyond help. After he had been laid out, a knocking sound was heard from the coffin, and nobody could work out what caused it. Before long, flames emerged from within, and within the blink of an eye it was completely ablaze, and the chamber was gutted. The Kaifeng authorities rushed to the scene, but the fire spread to burn more than a hundred households, leaving only skeletons among the ashes. This is truly something to marvel at.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.103-4 (Tale 179):

服丹自焚

主稱定觀者,政和末為殿中監,時年二十八,酒食自娛。一日,忽宣召入禁中,上云:「朕近得一異人,能製丹砂,服之可以長生。久視煉冶,經歲而成,色如紫金,卿為試之。」定觀欣躍拜 [104] 命,即取服之。才下咽,覺胸中煩躁之甚。俄頃,煙從〔口〕(據元刻本補。)中出。急扶歸,已不救。既殮之後,但聞棺中剝啄之聲,莫測所以。已而,火出其內,頃刻之間,遂成烈焰,室廬盡焚。開封府急救之,延燒數百餘家,但得枯骨於餘燼,深可怪也。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

Sprinkling Wine 潑散酒漿

Long ago an official was travelling through the mountains and, on reaching an isolated place, saw a wine shop, and went to buy some wine. A woman took his payment, and disappeared inside for a long time, before finally emerging carrying the wine. The colour of that liquor was as red as blood, and the taste was quite exquisite. When he wanted to buy some more to drink, the woman wept and told him: “Do not buy this. When your servant was alive I loved to sprinkle wine, and now suffer retribution. Whenever anyone comes to buy wine, I must supply them by squeezing it out of my own body.” At this the official glanced about fearfully and left in haste. After travelling for several li, he questioned someone on the road, whose reply: “There is no wine shop there”, left him even more terrified. This was a manifestation of the nether world authorities, to warn the public.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.103 (Tale 178):

潑散酒漿

昔有一官員,山行至孤絕處,見一酒店,因往買酒。一婦人先收酒錢,入內良久,方提酒出。其酒色紅如血,飲之甚美。欲再買飲,婦人泣告曰:「莫買也。妾在生時好潑散酒漿,故今受報,每有人買酒,即於妾身上榨出供之。」其官矍然趨出。行數里,問路人,人曰「此無酒店」,愈大怖。蓋陰司顯化以警世。

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).