Secret Virtue Makes A Number One Scholar 陰騭狀元

Ping Jing, courtesy name Dangshi, was from Xianning in Ezhou. His father was a merchant, and, when he was in the prime of life but lacking children, he was about to depart for the capital when his wife gave him several silver tablets and said: “The gentleman does not yet have a son; take these as the means to buy a concubine.” When he reached the capital, he bought a concubine, drew up a contract and paid over the money. When he asked the concubine where she came from, she shed tears but refused to speak. When he asked her more firmly, she then said her father held office, but, having suffered shortfalls in his transported goods, had sold her into concubinage as a plan to repay the losses. Grieved by this, he could not bear to touch her, and sent her back to her father, without insisting on the return of his money. When he returned, his wife asked: “Where is the concubine you bought?” He told her the whole story. His wife said: “If the gentleman uses his heart like this, why worry about lacking a son?” Several months later, his wife became pregnant. When the due date drew near, the villagers dreamt that the air was filled with drumming and trumpeting, greeting the number one scholar arriving at the Ping household. The next morning, Jing was born. Taking delight in reading, he came first (yuan) in the provincial examinations, came first (yuan) in the metropolitan examination, and achieved first place (yuan) in the overall ranking; his contemporaries called him ‘Ping Three-Yuan’.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前 2.108 (Tale 187):

陰騭狀元

馮京,字當世,鄂州咸寧人。其父商也,壯歲無子,將如京師,其妻授以白金數笏,曰:「君未有子,可以此為買妾之資。」及至京師,買一妾,立券償錢矣。問妾所自來,涕泣不肯言。固問之,乃言其父有官,因綱運欠折,鬻妾以為賠償之計。遂惻然不忍犯,遣還其父,不索其錢。及歸,妻問:「買妾安在?」具告以故。妻曰:「君用心如此,何患無子!」居數月,妻有娠。將誕,里人皆夢鼓吹喧闐迎狀元至馮家。次早,生京。喜讀書,領舉為解元,省試為省元,登第為狀元,世號為馮三元。

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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Immortal Lü Composes Fu 呂仙賦詞

The Phoenix Pavilion Bridge is thirty li north of Ancheng. One day, Immortal Lü (Lü Dongbin, 796-) sat on top of it, protecting those crossing the bridge and brewing fine tea to give to them. The immortal asked for paper and brush and wrote out a poem:

As the sun sets the sound of birdsong multiplies,

A fragrant wind fills the road and caresses the blooms.

Travellers on the way ask me to brew fresh tea,

Cleansing to leave heart and mind pure and untrammeled.

Unable to face the cares of this world,

The dreaming soul winds around the furthest corners.

The banks at Phoenix Pavilion Bridge are my home,

I am greatly absorbed by the moonlight tonight.

As he wrote these characters he flew and danced, and where he is now nobody knows.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.129-30 (Tale 225):

呂仙賦詞

鳳停橋,在安成之北三十里。一日,呂仙坐其上,守橋道人煎佳茗供之。仙索紙筆書一詞云:「落日數聲啼鳥,香風滿路吹花。道人邀我煮新茶,盪滌胸中瀟洒。世事不堪回首,夢魂猶繞天涯,鳳停橋畔即吾家。管甚月明今夜。」字畫飛舞,今不知所在。

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).

Wenshan Becomes An Immortal 文山為神

Guo Yuanyi came from Luling. He once followed Wenshan Tianxiang[1] on his travels, and also performed dedicated service among the troops. In the bingshen year of the Yuanzhen era (1296), while living at home he fell ill and died, but a slight warmth was retained in his heart and chest, and, during the time he was laid out in his home before he could be buried, he revived, and said: “A person in a yellow turban escorted me to a place like a government office. There was someone dressed like a prince in gold and purple, seated raised above the hall. Your servant whispered a question to the officials on guard: ‘Who is this official presiding over the hall?’ They answered: ‘This is Prime Minister Wen.’ Your servant was secretly pleased: ‘Being long acquainted with the prime minister, he must offer the protection of a close relationship.’ I therefore mounted the dais and made a bow to one side, and Duke Wen said: ‘In our friendship how can I not provide you with protection? Nonetheless, your number is up; what can be done? You may return to wrap up your plans and domestic affairs, and then come.’” Guo, having spoken in this way, said his goodbyes to his family, settled all of his outstanding business, and then died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.210 (Tale 374):

文山為神

郭元益,廬陵人。嘗從文山天祥遊,亦曾馳驅兵間。元貞丙申,居家抱病而死,但心胸間微暖,未殮,經宿還魂,云:「有黃巾人追至一所,若公府,見一金紫如王者狀,坐於殿上。某私問吏卒云:『殿上官何人?』答曰:『即文丞相也。』某私喜曰:『與丞相有舊,必蒙周庇。』因上殿,方一揖間,文公曰:『朋友間吾豈不能回護汝,但數至此,奈何!汝可回去區畫家事即來。』」郭如其言,與家人敍別,分付了當方死。

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).

[1] This is Wen Tianxiang 文天祥 (1236-83), courtesy name Songduan 宋端, also known as Wenshan 文山, who passed the civil examinations in 1256, and became famous for his resistance to Mongol rule, his eventual execution and his writing. His biography is found at Songshi 418.12533-40. See also the brief introduction here: http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Song/personswentianxiang.html

A Heart Contains Mountains and Rivers 心有山水

In a wild place outside Shanyang County in Chuzhou there was an ancient tomb, of which family or era it is not clear. Suddenly a Persian person came to pay visit a neighbour to the tomb, and said: “I wish to buy this land.” The neighbour said: [65] “This is the tomb of our ancestors; how could I dare to sell them so lightly?” The Persian said: “Don’t pretend that you know those people; no offerings have been made here for five or six centuries!” The other thought about it again through the night, deciding: it is not my tomb, and if there is to be payment, why cherish something without benefit? The following morning, when the Persian came, he accepted the request, asking for 2,000 strings of cash, and this was duly paid to him. After discussion they decided to excavate, and, finding a woman looking like the earth within a wooden coffin, cut open her belly and took out her heart. Displaying it they said: “Through her whole life this woman never achieved her ambitions, but viewing and appreciating the mountains and rivers, their purity and clarity entered her heart.” Separating it into two slices, they emitted bright lustre like jade. Each piece contained the real hills and real waters which a woman had once admired as she leant on her balustrade. Believing it rare and precious, he then took it back to his home country. It was a truly priceless treasure.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.64-65 (Tale 112):

心有山水

楚州山陽縣荒郊有古墳,不詳姓氏年代。忽有波斯人來謁墳鄰曰:「吾欲買此地。」鄰曰: [65] 「墳乃吾祖,安敢輕售!」波斯曰:「汝毋妄認,廢祀已六百年矣!」其人中夜思之,既非我墳,若有所償,何惜不與!詰旦,波斯人來,從其請,索二千緡,隨即償之。議定即掘,見棺木中一婦人如土,剖腹取心,指示曰: 「此婦平生不得志,觀玩山水,清氣盡入其心。」解開兩片,光瑩如玉,每片皆有真山真水,一婦人倚欄凝望。以為奇寶,遂帶歸本國,真無價珍。

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).