Repairing Ships, Increasing Longevity 修船增壽

In the bingyin year of the Song Xianchun era (1266), the Administrative Inspector for Linchuan, Nuan Weidao, a scholar of Shu, reported that his region had two stony paths separated by a river whose waters ran fast and wild through all four seasons. Further down there was a deep abyss, and only at that place was it possible to cross, although year in and year out those who drowned there were very numerous, as their small boats struck rocks and sank. A person called Xu Zongren decided to build a large vessel, bound with iron plates at both ends, personally hiring punt-hands who were dedicated to serving passing travellers and committed to performing virtuous works in order to accrue merit. It happened that a Person of the Way called at his gate and praised this order, addressing Xu: “The gentleman’s lifespan is restricted to [112] thirty-two, and ends this year.” On the evening of his birthday, he dreamed that he arrived at a government office, seeing a prince seated high in the hall, with three or four hundred spirits before the gates in wet robes, who presented a scroll to the prince: “Xu Zongren has saved many lives from death, with the utmost merit; we beg that husband and wife should enjoy long life, their descendants receive glory and high rank. The multitude wait only for the Zhongyuan festival; they will then cross the worldly bounds.” The prince gestured to his retinue, and with the following words instructed Zongren: “Special Extension by three ages.” He awoke and marvelled at this. From then on he found wholehearted joy in doing good works. Two of his sons and three of his grandsons served as officials. When Zongren died, people erected a hall for offerings by the side of the crossing, and it stands to this day.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.111-12 (Tale 194):

修船增壽

宋咸淳丙寅,臨川錄參暖昧道,蜀士也,嘗言其鄉有兩石嶠夾出一江,四時皆湍急,下則深淵,惟此處可以立渡,常年溺死者甚衆,蓋船小觸石即碎。有徐宗仁發心造一巨舟,兩頭裹以鐵葉,自僱篙手,專一撐過客人,且建善緣以薦亡者。忽有道人登門稱善命,謂徐曰:「公壽止得三 [112] 十二,止在今年。」生日之夕,夢至官府,見王者坐於堂上,而門首溼衣之鬼約三四百人,執一卷投於王前:「徐宗仁濟生拔死,功德莫大,乞與夫妻壽考,子孫榮貴,衆等只俟中元,即超淨界。」 王者指左右,以此詞示宗仁,云:「特延三紀。」覺而異之。自此一心好善樂施。二子、三孫,後有為官者。宗仁死,人為立祠於渡側,至今尚存。

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)

Not Taking Other’s Property 不取他物

Yang Zhongfeng Cun was from Bantang, in Jishui. In the eighth year of the Song Yuanfeng era (1085 CE), he was going to the provincial capital Kaifeng, and stayed in a traveller’s hostel in Xizhou. When he lay down, he became aware of something between mat and bed and which stuck into his [109] back; when he uncovered and looked at it this turned out to be salt production certificates to 20,000 yin in value. The following day, he asked the host: “Who stayed here the previous evening?” The host replied: “A great Huaidian merchant, surnamed such-and-such, was the guest.” The gentleman said: “He is an old acquaintance; if he returns, tell him I’m staying on such-and-such a road, with such-and-such a family.” He also wrote large characters on the wall, reading: “On such-and-such a year, month and day, Yang Cun of Luling stayed here.” He then went on his way. Before many days had passed, the merchant did indeed follow his former route, searching everywhere for it. When he reached the village to rest, the landlord told him about the gentleman, taking him to see the words he had written on the wall, after which he set off to the capital to visit the gentleman. The gentleman said: “So it turns out to be yours then! We should inform the authorities so they can return it to you.” The merchant said: “As you instruct.” The gentleman asked the officials to give all of it to the merchant, but the officials divided it in two halves. The gentleman said: “Had your servant wanted it, he could already have possessed it all merely by staying quiet.” The merchant had no option, so relinquished several hundred strings of coins to fund meals at the Xiangguo Monastery in the capital, in order to pray for the gentleman’s good fortune. That year, the gentleman was included on the list of imperial examination graduates. He rose through the government ranks up to Grand Master of Palace Service, and his sons and grandsons achieved great eminence.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.108-9 (Tale 188):

不取他物

楊中奉存,吉水湴塘人。宋元豐八年,赴省開封,宿息州旅舍。既卧,覺牀席間有物礙其 [109] 背,揭視之,乃鹽鈔二萬引。明日,詢主人曰:「前夕何人宿此?」主人曰:「淮甸一巨商某姓客也。」公曰:「此吾故人,設其人回,可與之言,吾在某坊某人家安歇。」又大書於所宿之房曰:「某年月日,廬陵楊存寓此。」遂行。不數日,商人果從故道,處處物色之。至息邨,主人以公言告,且使自觀壁間所書,乃徑去京師訪公。公曰:「果汝物耶!當聞之官以歸汝。」商曰:「如教。」公請府悉以授商,府使中分之。公曰:「使某欲之,前日奄為已有,泯默不言矣。」商不能強,乃捐數百緡,就京師相國寺設齋,為公祈福。是年,公中焦蹈榜下。歷官至中奉大夫,子孫貴顯。

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).

Monkeys Seize A Physician 猴劫醫人

In the hills around Changtai Village, within Jiangshan County in Quzhou, there were many monkeys, with groups of hundreds and thousands approaching the stream to drink, and each the size of a person.  All who travelled through to trade had to face their robbery, not taking human lives but stealing their property, leading gangs to grab them by the arms and carrying off their booty to high peaks, so people could not find it, but just had to become used to the situation. It happened that Mr Chai the physician was descending through the hills when a troop of monkeys were coming back, and saw that he carried nothing on his body, but had a document bag with prescriptions. Chai said: “I have medical ability.” They helped him up the peak and sat him in a stone cave, vying to present him with fruit. Presently they led an elderly monkey mother to him, who, though unable to speak, pointed to her throat within which she was suffering a phlegm cough. He gave her medicine, and after a single dose she was cured. He remained with them for several days, and the chief sent him generous tokens of his gratitude, first sending several piles of paper, which he did not accept, then juan [253] silk, which he also did not accept; he then emptied out all of the gold and silver they possessed along with the paper and silk, and he accepted all of this. The monkey troop escorted him down the slope, and to this day the Chai family remains very wealthy.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.252-53 (Tale 455):

猴劫醫人

衢州江山縣長臺村,山多猴,千百為羣,臨溪飲水,大如人形。凡有商旅,必為所劫,不害人命而利其財,率衆接臂,負藏高山,人莫得見,習以為常。忽有柴郎中自山下過,羣猴復來,視其身無有也,但便袋中有藥方。柴曰:「我能醫。」扶之登山,坐之石洞,爭進果核。頃扶老猴母來,但不能言,指其喉內痰嗽,與之藥,一服即愈。留之數日,首致謝禮,先送白紙數沓,不受;又絹 [253] 帛,亦不受;續盡以所有金銀來並前紙絹,悉受之。羣猴送下山,柴氏至今富盛。

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 Spirit Teaches Acupuncture 神授針法

Liaozhai, Chen Zhongsu, Duke Guan, was demoted to Hepu, impoverished and greatly fatigued. One day he was taking a nap when he dreamed that a spirit came to him and said: “How are you getting by?” Liaozhai said: “I worry from dawn to dusk.” The spirit said: “The Heavenly Emperor, because of your upright loyalty, sent me to come and appoint you as acupuncturist, to serve the people of Hepu, so you can support yourself.” Chen Liaozhai made a great bow to accept the instruction, and the spirit then pointed to various points on his body, saying: “For such-and-such an illness use the needle here, and for such-and-such an illness, use the needle here.” When he awoke, he had red patches all over his body, and got up hurriedly to record them. He stayed in Hepu for many years, relying on this skill for his food and clothing. Subsequently his family were all able to perform acupuncture, taking the spirit as their exemplar.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.226 (Tale 404):

神授針法

了齋陳忠肅公瓘,謫合浦,貧睏乏絕。一日晝寢,夢神人來問:「何以度日?」了齋曰:「正有朝夕之憂。」神人曰:「天帝以汝忠直,故遣來授汝針法,以救合浦之人,且可自給。」陳了齋甫拜受教,神就其身指示曰:「某病針此,某病針此。」既覺,紅斑滿體,急起錄之。在合浦累年,賴此以給衣食。後其家皆能用針,其效如神。

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).

Secret Virtue of the Dou Lineage 竇氏陰德

[107] When Dou Yujun of Yanshan first saw his ancestor in a dream, he was told: “You lack children, and moreover will not be long-lived; why not cultivate secret virtue early, to return to good fortune.” Yujun was terrified, and from then on where among his in-laws there were dead unburied, or daughters unmarried, he helped them all in achieving these things. Even in cases where the married women had been taken and their bonds burnt, he gave gold to return these lost people; cultivating his merit willy-nilly, there was nothing he would not do. Late in life he had five sons: Yi, Yan, Kan, Cheng and Xi, and they all passed the civil service examinations in turn. People called them the ‘Five Dou Dragons’, and a poem for them read:

Yanshan Counsellor Dou

Taught his sons the virtuous way.

The trunk of the heaven tree may age,

But the Osmanthus shows five fragrant branches.

Yujun’s career extended to Imperial Censor for Admonition, and he died aged eighty, without suffering illness. Now he is a True Man in the Heavenly Caverns.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.106-7 (Tale 185):

竇氏陰德

[107] 燕山竇禹鈞,初夢其祖曰:「汝無子,又且不壽,何不早修陰德,以回造化。」禹鈞惶懼,於是內外姻婭有喪未舉、有女未嫁,皆助成之。乃至焚券嫁有夫之女,得金還去失之人,苟可修德,無不為之。晚年生子,儀、儼、侃、偁、僖五人,皆相繼登科,時人謂之「竇氏五龍」,而為詩曰:「燕山竇十郎,教子以義方。靈椿一株老,丹桂五枝芳。」禹鈞官至諫議大夫,年八十無疾而卒,今為洞天真人。

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).

Heaven Bears A Daughter 天生女子

The Shengwu Emperor of the Later Wei bore the family name Tuoba and the first name Jiefen. Once, when he was hunting in the mountains and marshes he saw a beautiful woman riding in a curtained carriage and descending from the heavens. On her arrival, she emerged and said: “I am a daughter of the heavens, and have been ordered to come and marry Your Lordship.” The following morning she addressed the emperor: “Having combined with Your Lordship I am now with child; after a year has passed I will return here.” Having spoken, she departed. The following year, the emperor went there on time, and the daughter of heaven arrived as promised, handing over the child she had borne to the emperor, saying: “This is Your Lordship’s child, and will produce a line of emperors and princes.” After speaking she departed. The emperor named his son Li Wei, and he became the Shenyuan Emperor, the first imperial ancestor of the Wei. People of the time said: “Emperor Jifen lacked wife and family, Emperor Liwei lacked maternal uncles.” This is truly a marvel!”

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.3 (Tale 3):

天生女子

後魏聖武帝拓拔氏,名詰汾。嘗獵山澤間,見美婦人乘輜軒自天而下。既至,出曰:「我天女也,受命而來,與君相偶。」旦日謂帝曰:「比與君合,今已有娠,約以期年再會於此。」言終而別。明年,帝如期而往,天女果至,以所生男子授帝曰:「此君之子也,當世為帝王。」言訖辭去。帝名其子曰力微,即神元帝也,是為魏之始祖。時人為之語曰:「詰汾皇帝無婦家,力微皇帝無舅家。」亦異矣哉!

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).