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)

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Heavenly Wrath On Corrupt Officials 天譴墨吏

At the beginning of the Tang Zhenguan era (627-49 CE), the Director of Danyang, Wang Qiong, was summoned and dismissed in his third year. Qiong was extremely resentful, and took a great deal of money, visiting the Maoshan Daoist Ye Lingzhong, and seeking a memorial to the throne that would predict the future. Lingzhong was ninety years old, and, when forced to produce the petition, the paper floated up on incense smoke and disappeared into the mists. Soon after it fell back to the ground, with a note in red ink added to the end: “Accepting a hundred liang of gold, taking three years’ salary, murdering two people; these will be resolved after death.” One year later, Qiong died suddenly without illness.

上1.16 (Tale 85):

天譴墨吏

唐貞觀初,丹陽令王瓊,三年調集,遭黜。瓊甚憤惋,乃齎百千,詣茅山道士葉靈中,求章奏以問吉凶。靈中年九十,強為奏之,其章隨香烟飛上,縹渺不見。食頃復墮地,有朱書批其末,云:「受金百兩,折祿三年;枉殺二人,死後處斷。」一歲,瓊無疾暴卒。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

A version of the same tale, showing several variations, is found in the Taiping Guangji:

Ye Xuzhong 葉虛中

At the beginning of the Tang Zhenguan era (627-49 CE), the Director of Danyang, Wang Qiong, was summoned and dismissed in his third year. He was extremely resentful, and visited the Maoshan Daoist Ye Xuzhong, seeking a memorial to the throne that would predict the future. Xuzhong was over ninety years old, and, when forced to produce the petition, the paper floated up on incense smoke and disappeared into the mists. Soon after it fell back to the ground, with a note in red ink added to the end: “Accepting a hundred liang of gold, taking three years’ salary, murdering two people; these will be resolved after death.” One year later, Qiong did indeed meet a sudden end. From Duyizhi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 73.456-57:

葉虛中

唐貞觀初。丹陽令王瓊。三年調集。皆黜落。甚憤惋。乃齋宿于茅山道士葉虛中。求奏章以問吉凶。虛中年九十餘。彊為奏之。其章隨香煙飛上。縹渺不見。食頃復墮地。有朱書批其末云。受金百兩。折 [457] 祿三年。枉殺二人。死後處分。後一歲。瓊果得暴疾終。出獨異志

A Copper Coffin Descends From Heaven 天降銅棺

Zou Su, the Wine Supervisor for Zhengzou, was just and impartial in office, and respected by people for that. In Zhengzhou one day, as the sun reached noon, wind and hail descended from the heavens, mist and cloud arose from all four sides around the north gate, and a black miasma spun out of it and arose vertically, meeting the heavens without dissipating. A lidless copper coffin descended from the sky, and music came loud and clear out of the empty air. At that time all of Zhengzhou’s junior clerks below the rank of prefect, generals and officers, scholars and commoners, monks and Daoists all changed their clothes and tried to get into the coffin. It being narrow outside and wide within, however, none were able to enter. Winding his wine supervisor’s kerchief as he arrived, Su was asked by the crowd to enter the coffin, and he had not the slightest difficulty. A moment later, a copper lid descended, circled by multi-coloured clouds, and it was all then lifted among the beautiful sound of immortals and the voices of cranes, amid auspicious clouds of heavenly fragrance, and, in a cloud of enduring mist, the coffin gradually turned to the north and departed. He now serves as the judge over longevity in the distant north.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.150 (Tale 263):

天降銅棺

鄭州監酒鄒宿,為官公正無私,人所推敬。一日,鄭州日方午,天降風雹,煙雲四起於北門,黑霧盤旋直上,衝天不散,降下無蓋銅棺一具,但聞空中音樂嘹喨。時鄭州自守倅以下官吏、將校、士庶、僧道,盡易衣服,欲入銅棺。而外狹內寬,皆莫能入。續監酒巾裹而來,衆請之入棺,亦無少(「少」,明刻本作「所」。)礙。少焉,復降銅蓋,綵雲繚繞,擎舉而上,仙韶鶴唳,瑞氣天香,靄靄不散,其棺冉冉向北而去。今為北極司壽限判官。

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 Rebukes A Musician 神譴樂人

The Dongyue Temple in Fenggao County was very austere, and observed an annual custom on the twenty-eighth day of the third month, where the townsfolk celebrated the birthday of the Yue Emperor. The old custom was to offer wine, and at the fourth cup to play the [225] tune ‘Ten Thousand Years of Joy’. In the Zhiyuan era (1264-94), the wuyin year (1278), the musician Wan Shou thought that, because that year’s harvest had failed, there would not be anyone to take charge of the affair, and also no offerings, so only played a popular tune in the mournful shang mode. Wan Shou later dreamed that he was escorted by yellow-robed clerks to a place below the hall of the True Lord Qingyuan at the Yue Temple, and the True Lord asked: “Yesterday, on the birthday of the Yue Emperor, wine was offered; why, on the fourth cup, did you just play some kind of popular ditty?” Wan Shou could not find a single word to respond. The True Lord spoke in judgement: “The sentence is: twenty canes across the back, three successive years of illness, banishment across the sea to be incarcerated in the demon cave.” The next day an abcess opened on his back, as big as a bowl in size. It persisted for three years, after which he died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.224-25 (Tale 400):

神譴樂人

奉高縣東嶽廟甚嚴,年例以三月二十八日,市民慶賀岳帝壽辰。舊例酌獻,第四盞例是樂 [225] 奏《萬年歡》。至元戊寅,樂人萬壽心思是年荒歉,既無人主事,又無祗待,遂只奏商調小曲。後萬壽夢被黃衣吏攝至岳廟清源真君殿下,真君問曰:「前日嶽帝生日酌獻,你如何第四盞只奏小曲?」萬壽竟無辭以應。真君判云: 「決脊杖二十,連病三年,押赴海外鬼洞收管。」次日果背發一疽,其大如碗,連綿三歲而死。

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).

Hua Yue Serves As King Yama 華岳為閻王

In Luling lived an Ouyang Sheng, who enjoyed joking and teasing his entire life. On seeing that rice sold by a family was coarse and damp, he composed a poem:

‘If in the world one sold the Thunder-God,

The buyer of a Thunder-God would strike them down.’

Falling ill one day, he was escorted to the nether world, and saw the list of those released; it named Huang Niushi, Ouyang Deyu, Yi Li and Ouyang Sanying. When he had finished watching, he was taken to a hall, and asked those around him: “Who is prince of the gate?” They said: “It is now Xi, the worldly son of Hua Yue.”[1] He presently saw a person, robed in purple and belted in gold, seated over the hall, who asked: “You spoke extravagantly in life, once saying the sentence ‘The buyer of a Thunder-God would strike them down’; the Thunderer thus raised a lawsuit in heaven; how can you buy thunder?” Ou[yang] answered: “The Great Prince’s own ‘Record of a Southern Expedition to the Blue-Green Mountains’ also has the sentence ‘Lightning does not smite the emperor-deceiving traitor’, and this was exactly my meaning.” Hua laughed and said: “Free to return! Free to return!” Ou then revived, writing in secret to one called Two Ou, and told the villagers: “Our district will definitely have good news this autumn.” He entrusted the sealed slip of paper to the multitude until the examination results were announced. Afterwards, both men were indeed examination champions.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.211 (Tale 375):

華岳為閻王

廬陵有歐陽生者,平生喜作謔詞,見糶米之家米粗且溼,作詩云:「世間若有雷公賣,買個雷公打殺他。」一日病,被追至冥府,見陰司放解榜,有黃牛石、歐陽德遇、義歷、歐陽三英名字。看畢,至一殿宇,問左右曰:「閭王為誰?」曰:「即世間華岳子西也。」忽見一人紫袍金帶坐殿上,問云:「汝在生有口過,嘗有『買箇雷公打殺他』之句,雷乃奉行天之威令,豈汝能買乎?」歐答云:「大王《翠微南征集》亦有『雷霆不劈欺君賊』之句,即此意也。」華笑曰:「放還!放還!」歐遂蘇,密書二歐名字告之鄉人云:「吾鄉今秋定有好事。」對衆封記片紙,俟揭榜日開。後二人果領薦。

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 Hua Yue 華岳, courtesy name Zixi 子西 (13th century, dates unknown), also known as Cuiwei 翠微. His biography is found at Songshi 455.113375-78.

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 Dead Woman Bewitches People 死婦迷人

In a guiyou year, Qing Yang, the Censor of Hubei, had an intense dream about his term of office. Among the populace was a woman who was somewhat attractive and killed her husband, having different ambitions for herself. Her sentence being execution and display in the marketplace, when the hour of execution arrived a young physician saw her and said: “It will be enough if I take this person as a wife; have pity! Have pity!” He then acted like he was drunk, constantly smiling and giggling at the woman. Her father asked a Buddhist priest to deal with him and certify that the city god had arrested her soul; he said in judgement: “This person killed her husband and has already been subjected to the law of the realm. If she harms people after death, then she should be subject to heavenly punishment.” How grave! Those youths who harbour evil thoughts in their presumptuousness should take this as a warning.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.242 (Tale 437):

死婦迷人

癸酉,湖北憲青陽夢炎任內,民間有一婦人,稍有姿色,戕夫而有別志。獄成棄市,臨刑時有少年醫生見云:「我得此人為妻足矣,可惜!可惜!」生自此如醉,常對此婦人嬉笑。其父請法師治之,牒城隍拘其魂,判云:「生戕其夫,已遭王法;死復害人,當置天刑。」甚矣!後生妄起邪心者,當以為戒。

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).