When the lips perish, the teeth become cold

Chun Wang Chi Han, 唇亡齿寒.

The state of Yu was on the south of the state of Jin, and the state of Guo again on the south of Yu. Xun Xi, the minister of Jin, requested leave from the marquis to take his team of Qu horses and his bi of Chuiji jade, and with them borrow a way from Yu to march through it and attack Guo. “They are the things I hold most precious,” said the marquis. Xi replied, “But if you get a way through Yu, it is but like placing them in a treasury outside the State for a time.” “There is Gong Zhiqi in Yu,” objected the duke. “Gong Zhiqi,” returned the other, “is a weak man, and incapable of remonstrating vigorously. And, moreover, from his youth up he has always been with the duke of Yu, who is so familiar with him, that though he should remonstrate, the duke will not listen to him.” The marquis accordingly sent Xun Xi to borrow a way through Yu, with this message:—”Formerly, the state of Ji, against right and reason, entered your State from Dianling, and attacked the three gates of Ming. It suffered for its doing;—all through your Grace. Now Guo, against right and reason, has been keeping guards about the travellers’ lodges, to make incursions from them into my southern borders, and I venture to beg a right of way from you to ask an account of its offence.” The duke of Yu granted the request, and even asked to take the lead in invading Guo. Gong Zhiqi remonstrated with him, but in vain; and he raised his army for the enterprize.

‘In summer, Li Ke and Xun Xi brought on the army of Jin, made a junction with that of Yu, and invaded Guo, when they extinguished Xiayang.

Three years later, the marquis of Jin again borrowed a way through Yu to attack Guo. Gong Zhiqi remonstrated with the duke of Yu, saying, “Guo is the external defence of Yu. If Guo perish, Yu is sure to follow it. A way should not be opened to the greed of Jin; robbers are not to be played with. To do it once was more than enough; and will you do it a second time? The common sayings, ‘The carriage and its wheel-aids depend on one another,’ ‘When the lips perish, the teeth become cold,’ ‘illustrate the relation between Guo and Yu.” The duke said, “The princes of Jin and Yu are descended from the same ancestor. How should Jin injure us?” The minister replied, ‘Taibo and Yuzhong were sons of king Tai; but because Taibo would not follow him against Shang, he did not inherit his State. Guo Zhong and Guo Shu were sons of king Ji, and ministers of king Wen. Their merits in the service of the royal House are preserved in the repository of covenants. If Guo be extinguished by Jin, what love is it likely to show to Yu? And can Yu claim a nearer kindred to Jin than the descendants of Huan and Zhuang, that Jin should show love to it? What crime had the families descended from Huan and Zhuang been guilty of? and yet Jin destroyed them entirely, feeling that they might press on it. Its near relatives, whom it might have been expected to favour, it yet put to death, because their greatness pressed upon it;—what may not Jin do to you, when there is your State to gain?” The duke said, “My sacrificial offerings have been abundant and pure; the Spirits will not forsake, but will sustain me.” His minister replied, “I have heard that the Spirits do not accept the persons of men, but that it is virtue to which they cleave. Hence in the Books of Zhou we read, ‘Great Heaven has no affections; —it helps only the virtuous;’ and, ‘It is not the millet which has the piercing fragrance; it is bright virtue; and again, ‘People do not slight offerings, but it is virtue which is the thing accepted.’ Thus if a ruler have not virtue, the people will not be attached to him, and the Spirits will not accept his offerings. What the Spirits will adhere to is a man’s virtue. If Jin take Yu, and then cultivate bright virtue, and therewith present fragrant offerings, will the Spirits vomit them out?” The duke did not listen to him, but granted the request of the messenger of Jin.

‘Gong Zhiqi went away from Yu, with all the circle of his family, saying, ‘Yu will not see the winter sacrifice. Its doom is in this expedition. Jin will not make a second attempt.’

In the 8th month, on Jiawu, the marquis of Jin laid siege to Shangyang, the chief city of Guo, and asked the diviner Yan whether he should succeed in the enterprise. Yan replied that he should, and he then asked when. Yan said, “The children have a song which says,

‘Towards day break of Bing, Wei of the Dragon lies hid in the conjunction of the sun and moon. With combined energy and grand display, Are advanced the flags to capture Guo. Grandly appears the Chun star, And the Tian-ce is dim. When Huo culminates, the enterprise will be completed, And the duke of Guo will flee.’ ‘According to this, you will succeed at the meeting of the 9th and 10th months. In the morning of Bingzi, the sun will be in Wei, and the moon in Ce; the Chunhuo will be exactly in the south:—this is sure to be the time.”

‘In winter, in the 12th month, on Bingzi, the 1st day of the moon, Jin extinguished Guo, and Chou, the duke, fled to the capital. The army, on its return, took up its quarters in Yu, surprised the city, and extinguished the State, seizing the duke, and his great officer Jingbo, whom the marquis employed to escort his daughter, Mu Ji, to Qin. The marquis continued the sacrifices of Yu in Jin, and presented to the king the tribute due from it. The brief language of the text is condemnatory of Yu, and expresses, besides, the ease with which Jin annexed it.’

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