The Joyous Life Of Tuan-Mu-Shu

TUAN-MU-SHU of Wei was descended from Tse-Kung.

He had a patrimony of ten thousand gold pieces.

Indifferent to the chances of life, he followed his own inclinations.

What the heart delights in he would do and delight in: with his walls and buildings, pavilions, verandahs, gardens, parks, ponds and lakes, wine and food, carriages, dresses, women and attendants, he would emulate the princes of Ch’i and Ch’u in luxury.

Whenever his heart desired something, or his ear wished to hear something, his eye to see or his mouth to taste, he would procure it at all costs, though the thing might only be had in a far-off country, and not in the kingdom of Chi.

When on a journey the mountains and rivers might be ever so difficult and dangerous to pass, and the roads ever so long, he would still proceed just as men walk a few steps.

A hundred guests were entertained daily in his palace. In the kitchens there were always fire and smoke, and the vaults of his hall and peristyle incessantly resounded with songs and music. The remains from his table he divided first among his clansmen. What they left was divided among his fellow-citizens, and what these did not eat was distributed throughout the whole kingdom.

When Tuan-mu-Shu reached the age of sixty, and his mind and body began to decay, he gave up his household and distributed all his treasures, pearls and gems, carriages and dresses, concubines and female attendants. Within a year he had disposed of his fortune, and to his offspring he had left nothing. When he fell ill, he had no means to buy medicines and a stone lancet, and when he died, there was not even money for his funeral. All his countrymen who had benefited by him contributed money to bury him, and gave back the fortune of his descendants.

When Ch’in-ku-li heard of this he said:

“Tuan-mu-Shu was a fool, who brought disgrace to his ancestor.”

When Tuan-Kan-Sheng heard of it he said:

“Tuan-mu-Shu was a wise man; his virtue was much superior to that of his ancestors. The commonsense people were shocked at his conduct, but it was in accord with the right doctrine. The excellent man of Wei only adhered to propriety. They surely had not a heart like his.”

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