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250px Lu Zhi
A translation of the History of the Later Han, chapter 75


Lu Zhi, style name Zigan, was a native of Zhuo commandery [in You province]. His height was eight chi and two cun, and his voice sounded giant bell-ish. When he was young, he was taught by Ma Rong 馬融 along with Zheng Xuan 鄭玄, and he was erudite, and proficient in both ancient and contemporary studies. He enjoyed profound learning, but was never a man in pursuit of literary perfectionism. Ma Rong was from a powerful clan on the maternal side of the imperial family.[1] When he gave a lecture, he usually brought in female singers and dancers who performed in his classroom. Lu Zhi worked for Master Ma as a teaching assistant for years, but he never turned his eyes in their direction. Ma Rong admired him for such concention. After his graduation, he returned to his hometown, where he worked as a teacher at home, with his doors closed. He was dutifully firm and resolute, with great integrity. He bore big ambitions to govern and benefit the people. He did not indulge himself in poetry and verses. He could drink a dan of liquor.
At that time, General-in-Chief Dou Wu 竇武, who was father of the Empress, provided substantial support for the enthronement of Emperor Ling 靈. The General began to assume power for confidential and important political affairs. Officials at the imperial court proposed to grant noble titles to him. Although Lu Zhi was a commoner, he knew that Dou Wu was a man with a good reputation. Therefore, he wrote a letter to persuade the General. In the letter, he wrote,
This is Lu Zhi. I heard that even a widow does not worry about the shortage of her yarns; and the girl of Qishi wailed with her back leaning on a pillar. Both women were not worried about their personal matters, instead they felt worried for their states. It was a noble and patriotic feeling to bear profound concerns and thoughts for distant future. Intellectuals need to have honorable friends who may discipline each other. Classic of History (Shū) suggests, ‘The state needs to consult commoners.’ Classic of Poetry has a verse reading, ‘The state needs the advice of firewood gatherers.’ I have been a reader of your books for very long time. How can I keep my blind suggestions reserved? Today, your role to the Han Empire, is as important as that of Dan and Shi to the Zhou court. The enthronement of a wise monarch is of great importance to the people of the entire country. Concerning public opinions, people believe that this is your most important contribution. The people of the entire country are laying their eyes and ears on you. They say you are to enjoy great blessings of harmonious wind for your previous achievements.”
Dou Wu accepted none of the suggestions. The province and commandery summoned him a few times, but Lu Zhi refused all the appointments. During the years of Jianning, when the government summoned him as Boshi (an official title of scholars), he began to work in the government. In the fourth year of Xiping, barbarians in Jiujiang started a rebellion. The Four Offices selected Lu Zhi as the Grand Administrator of Jiujiang for his excellence in both civil and military services. The rebels surrendered. Later, he suspended his service due to his illness.
Lu Zhi wrote two books, The Passages and Sentences of the Classic of History (shàngshū zhāngjù 尚書章句) and To Understand the Three Books of Rites (sān lǐjiě gǔ 三禮解詁).[1] At that time, Inscription of Classics of Imperial College was created for the first time in order to set a standard edition for the text of the Five Classics. Lu Zhi submitted a memorial to the throne. In the letter, he said,
When I was young, I learned from erudite scholar Ma Rong, who was Grand Administrator of Nan commandery. I received an education of ancient studies, and I know well that there is much redudancy in the text of the present version of Book of Rites.[2] In the past, I thought the classics in Book of Rites might cause inaccuracy of meaning.[3] I was not daunted by my foolness and shallowness to offer explanations of the book. However, my family was impoverished, and I could not afford to transcribe my manuscript.[4] I am willing to visit Dongguan (Imperial Archives) with two scholars. With government subsidies, we can concentrate on the studies of the text of Classic of History, and we may research the Book of Rites for its gains and loss. By doing so, we may edit a final revised version of the sacred scriptures and publish the revised text for the stele inscription. The ancient text that resembles tadpoles is more faithful to the genuine meaning. However, popular opinions do not consider it important, and its status is suppressed into insignificant learning.[5] Since the Restoration, erudite scholars, such as Ban Gu, Jia Kui, and Zheng Xing and his son, all enjoyed the studies of rites and music, and they were also proficient in the studies of Classic of Poetry and Classic of History.[6] At present, Maoshi (Classic of Poetry edited by Mao School), Zuo zhuan, and Rite of Zhou are still in distribution. They are complements to Spring and Autumn.[7] The government should establish the academic title of Boshi as academic official in order to educate the future generations and spread the ideas of the ancient sages.
It happened that the Southern Barbarians started a rebellion. Knowing that Lu Zhi had benevolent governance and was trusted by the people in Jiujiang, the Imperial Court appointed him as Grand Administrator of Lujiang commandery. Lu Zhi exercised good governance, knowing exactly what to do. He made sure that his government did not disturb the peace, dealing with just the most important of issues.
Lu Zhi cage cart - Ming SGYY-YFC
More than one year later, the Imperial Court appointed him as Gentleman Consultant again. He worked together with Advisory Counsellor Ma Midi, Gentleman Consultant Cai Yong 蔡邕, Yang Biao 楊彪 and Han Shuo 韓說 at the Eastern Pavilion (or Imperial Archives, Dōngguān 東觀), where they edited various books from the palace’s collections, the Five Classics (Wǔjīng 五經) and wrote a supplement to Han ji (Annals of Han).[1] Considering this as not urgent, the Emperor appointed him as Palace Attendant, and then promoted him as Master of Writing (shàngshū 尚書). In the first year of Guanghe, a solar eclipse appeared. Lu Zhi submitted a confidential memorial to the throne. In the letter, he wrote an admonition to the Emperor,
I read in Wuxing zhuan that ‘When the sun turns dark and the moon appears, it is a solar eclipse. It represents the laxation of kings and marquises.’ This phenomenon signifies the weakness of the Emperor and the pride of his subordinates.[2] The Spring and Autumn Annals says, ‘The Emperor stays away from the main hall and delays his meal.’[3] This means the Emperor should avoid any action when an eclipse takes place. Recently, the solar eclipse lasted from morning till over high noon. When the sun was fully eclipsed, it was covered by clouds. In recent years, an earthquake happened, and comets appeared frequently. I heard that Han rose to power with the symbolic virtue of Fire, and the State is supposed to govern people with mercy and wisdom. Your Majesty needs to avoid particularly the lust for women and slanderous talk, because Fire fears Water. The anomalies that happened this year were all caused by the weakened yang due to the disturbance of yin. There must be solutions for us to eliminate and prevent disasters. Here, I seriously propose eight suggestions. First, the Imperial Court should appoint wise and moral talents as officials. Second, the Court should pardon those who were convicted in the Partisan Prohibition.[4] Third, prevent the evil atmosphere.[5] Fourth, prepare defense against rebels and invaders. Fifth, cultivate rite. Sixth, comply with the principles of Emperor Yao. Seventh, discipline the subordinates. Eighth, share benefits. When it comes to talent selection, the Imperial Court should order the provinces and commanderies to select wise and moral people, and recommend and employ them based on their talents.[6] Concerning the pardons, most of the convicted people during the Partisan Prohibition were innocent. They could be pardoned, and their sentences could be repealed.[7] As for the prevention of evil atmosphere, Empress Song was backstabbed by Wang Fu and Chen E, and she died in rage. Her father and brothers were executed unjustly. Their corpses were abandoned, and their relatives were not allowed to claim the corposes for burial. The outbreak of plagues was all caused by this. Your Majesty need to issue an edict to arrange the burials, so that the deceased can rest in peace.[8] Concerning defense preparation, princes and marquises desire to start rebellion if their revenue of levy decreases. The Imperial Court should make sure that they have sufficient supplies so as to prevent such disasters. For rite cultivation, the Court should summon people with excellent moral cultivation, such as Zheng Xuan, to disseminate the principles in Hongfan and ward off woes. For the compliance with Emperor Yao, currently, the Grand Administrators and Inspectors usually would have a few transfers within one month. It is better that the Court promotes the wise ones and dismiss those who are not, so as to differentiate the competent and incompetent officials. If the Imperial Court cannot evaluate their performance every nine years, it is reasonable for the Court to do so every three years.[9] Concerning disciplining the subordinates, networking and gift-giving can be banned.[10] The matter of talent recommendation can be given to dedicated supervisors. It is an obligation for the Emperor to keep no personal benefits. The Emperor is supposed to take charge of important matters and avoid trivia.[11]
The Emperor did not accept the suggestions.
In the first year of Zhongping, the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out. The Four Offices recommended Lu Zhi, and he was appointed as the General of the Household of the North (běi zhōngláng jiāng 北中郎將), Bearing the Staff of Authority (zhíjié 持節). His deputy was Zong Yuan 宗員, Colonel Protecting the Wuhuan (hù Wūhuán xiàowèi 護烏桓校尉). They took command of the Five Regiments of the Northern Army, and summoned military forces from commanderies to suppress the Rebellion. In a series of battles, they defeated Zhang Jue 張角, and slew more than ten thousand rebels. Zhang Jue fled to guard Guangzong [city]. Lu Zhi built a siege-wall and dug a moat around the city. He ordered scaling ladders to be built, getting himself ready for a final attack. The Emperor dispatched a young eunuch named Zuo Feng 左豐 to visit the army and observe the conditions of the rebels. Someone recommended Lu Zhi to bribe Zuo Feng, but Lu Zhi refused. When Zuo Feng returned, he told the Emperor,