The Second Emperor of the T’ang Dynasty
Tai Chung’ was the second Emperor of the T’ang dynasty, his reign extended from 627 to 650.
He was ever on the outlook for literary counsellors and heroic statesmen. ” Heroic men have come within my bow-shot,” was a characteristic exclamation of his. As a monarch he lived up to the ideal embodied in his words: ” I look upon myself in my empire as a father in his family. I love my subjects as my children. An emperor who oppresses the people to enrich himself is like a man who cuts off his own flesh to satisfy the cravings of hunger. These may be satisfied, but in a short time his whole body must perish.”
On one occasion he allowed a number of prisoners under sentence of death to return to their homes to celebrate the New Year, on the condition that they should come back at a stated time. They all returned according to their promise, which so pleased the Emperor that he permitted them all to go free.
One day, being out in a pleasure boat with his family, he said, ” You see, my children, that the boat is supported by the water, which can at any time overwhelm it when it is roused; consider that the people resemble the water, and the Imperial State the boat.”
One of these children in after years succeeded him, under the designation Kao Chung.