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hich tuong si

Trần Quốc Tuấn (陳國峻 , 1228-1300) was a prince and general of the Trần dynasty (陳朝 , 1225-1400). He is better known as Trần Hưng Đạo (陳興道), after his royal title, Hưng Đạo Vương (興道王). His famous exhortation to Vietnamese generals on the eve of a Mongol invasion is among the most celebrated works of Classical Chinese writing in Vietnamese history. This work has been previously translated twice into English. One translation, by professor Trương Bửu Lâm (張寶琳 , ?-?) I have yet to obtain. The other translation, readily available on the Internet was “translated and adopted” by George F. Schultz. I suspect that the latter translation was based on a either a Vietnamese translation or paraphrase of the original Classical Chinese. Schultz’s translation, while more or less faithful to the general content of the text, deviates from the original Chinese in many areas, sometimes leaving out details, sometimes using extraneous vocabulary (for example, the term “Motherland” which does not appear anywhere in the original text), and sometimes translating something completely wrong. Once again, I have decided to present first my translation and then add to the annotations at a later point. This translation I based on the original Chinese text, compared against several Vietnamese translations.

This post is divided into the following sections:

I. Original text
II. English Translation
III. Notes
IV. Translator’s Commentary

I.

諭諸裨將檄文

余常聞之,紀信以身代死而脫高帝,由于以背受戈而蔽昭王。豫讓吞炭而復主讎,申蒯斷臂而赴國難,敬德一小生也,身翼太宗而得免世充之圍;杲卿一遠臣也,口罵祿山而不從逆賊之計。自古忠臣義士,以身死國,何代無之。設使數子區區為兒女子之態,徒死牖下,烏能名垂竹白,與天地相為不朽哉。汝等世為將種,不曉文義,旣聞其說,疑信相半,古先之事姑置勿論,今余以宋韃之事言之。王公堅何人也,其裨將阮文立又何人也,以釣魚瑣瑣斗大之城,當蒙哥堂堂百萬之鋒,使宋之生靈至今受賜。骨䚟兀郎何人也,其裨將赤脩思又何人也,冒瘴厲於萬里之途,獗南詔於數旬之頃,使韃之君長至今留名。況余與汝等生於擾攘之秋,長於艱難之勢,竊見偽使往來,道途旁午,掉鴞烏之寸舌而凌辱朝廷,委犬羊之尺軀而倨傲宰輔,托忽必烈之令而索玉帛以事無已之誅求,假雲南王之號而揫金銀以竭有限之儻庫,譬猶以肉投餒虎,寧能免遺後患也哉。余常臨餐忘食,中夜撫枕,涕泗交痍,心腹如搗,常以未能食肉寢皮,絮肝飲血為恨也。雖余之百身高於草野,余之千屍裹於馬革,亦願為之。汝等久居門下,掌握兵權,無衣者則衣之以衣,無食者則食之以食,官卑者則遷其爵,祿薄者則給其俸,水行給舟,陸行給馬,委之以兵則生死同其所為,進之在寢則笑語同其所樂,其是公堅之為偏裨,兀郎之為副貳,亦未下爾。汝等坐視主辱曾不為憂,身當國恥曾不為愧,為邦國之將侍立夷宿而無忿心,聽太常之樂宴饗偽使而無怒色,或鬥雞以為樂,或賭博以為娛,或事田園以養其家,或戀妻子以私於己,修生產之業而忘軍國之務,恣田獵之遊而怠攻守之習,或甘美酒,或嗜淫聲,脫有蒙韃之寇來,雄雞之距不足以穿虜甲,賭博之術不足以施軍謀,田園之富不足以贖千金之軀,妻孥之累不足以充軍國之用,生產之多不足以購虜首,獵犬之力不足以驅賊眾,美酒不足以沈虜軍,淫聲不足以聾虜耳,當此之時,我家臣主就縛,甚可痛哉。不唯余之采邑被削,而汝等之俸祿亦為他人之所有;不唯余之家小被驅,而汝等之妻孥亦為他人之所虜;不唯余之祖宗社稷為他人之所踐侵,而汝等之父母墳墓亦為他人之所發掘;不唯余之今生受辱,雖百世之下,臭名難洗,惡謚長存,而汝等之家清,亦不免名為敗將矣。當此之時,汝等雖欲肆其娛樂得乎。今余明告汝等,當以措火積薪為危,當以懲羹吹虀為戒,訓練士卒習爾弓矢,使人人逄蒙家家后羿,梟必烈之頭於闕下,朽雲南之肉於藁街,不唯余之采邑永為青氊,而汝等之俸祿亦終身之受賜;不唯余之家小安床褥,而汝等之妻孥亦百年之皆老;不唯余之宗廟萬世享祀,而汝等之祖父亦春秋之血食;不唯余之今生得志,而汝等百世之下芳名不朽;不唯余之美謚永垂,而汝等之姓名亦遺芳於青史矣。當此之時,汝等雖欲不為娛樂得乎。今余歷選諸家兵法,為一書名曰《兵書要略》,汝等或能專習是書,受余教誨,是夙世之臣主也;或暴棄是書,違余教誨,是夙世之仇讎也。何則?蒙韃乃不共戴天之讎,汝等既恬然不以雪恥為念,不以除凶為心,而又不教士卒,是倒戈迎降,空拳受敵,使平虜之後,萬世遺羞,上有何面目立於天地覆載之間耶。故欲汝等明知余心,因筆以檄云。

II.

Exhortation to the Military Officers

Oft have I heard of Ji Hsin who delivered himself unto death that Emperor Han Kao-ti might escape; of You Yu who, taking a spear to the back, shielded lord Chao; of Yu Jang who, swallowing smoldering ashes, avenged his lord. Shen K’uai dismembered his arm, rescuing his kingdom from disaster. Ching Te, a young boy, charged forth, delivering Emperor Tang Tai-tsung from encirclement of Wang Shih Ch’ung. Kao Ch’ing, a distant subject, rebuked Lu Shan as a rebel and refused to follow his villainous insurrection. From of old, loyal subjects and righteous officers have sacrificed their lives for their kingdoms. What age has been without such men? Had they been feeble and lowly with the bearing of women and girls, in vain they would have passed away at home. How could their names have been passed down on bamboo scrolls and fine silk to endure forever incorrupt with Heaven and Earth?

You men hail from military families. Having no comprehension of letters and records, upon hearing such stories you harbor doubts against their veracity. Let discussion of ages past cease. I speak now of events pertaining to the Song and Mongols. What sort of man was Wang Gong Chien? What sort of man was his subordinate, Juan Shan Li, that together defending the puny fortress of Tiao Yu, they repelled Mongke’s immense horde of a million men? The Song people to this day are still graced with their blessings. What sort of man was Uriyangqatai? What kind of man was his subordinate Ch’ih Hsiu Ssu that they charged through ten-thousand miles of deadly miasmas, crushing the Nan Chao ruffians in a matter of weeks? Till now, Mongol chieftains still remember their names.

How much more you and I, having been born into a tumultuous age, reaching manhood in a time of trials and tribulation. We have seen with our own eyes, false ambassadors bustling to and fro unhindered, filling the road and pathways. With the tongues of unclean birds they shame and humiliate the imperial court. Relying on their arms, these dogs and goats arrogantly disgrace high officials. Under the order of Kublai, they demand jade and silk to satiate their boundless avarice. Feigning lordship over Yun-nan, their demand for gold and silver has wiped clean our limited coffers. Compliance is like waiving meat before a ravenous tiger; how could we be spared from future calamity?

I have continually forgotten my meal while sitting down to eat; in the dead of night I beat my pillow, with tears streaming down in pain, my heart and bowels are as if tossed about. Constantly, I regret having not yet eaten the enemies flesh, slept on his skin, chewed his bowels, and drunken his blood. Even should my corpse be exposed a hundred times in the wild grasslands, even should my corpse be wrapped in horse-hide a thousand times, I would still desire thusly. You men have long dwelt within my gates, together with me holding command over the army. He who was without clothes, I gave to wear. He who was without food, I gave to eat. He whose rank was low, I promoted. He whose payment was poor, I increased. To those traveling by water I provided boats; to those traveling by land, I provided horses. With you I braved the battlefield, together risking life and death. In leisure, our talk and laughter resounded with shared joy. What inferiority have we when compared to Gong Chien and Uriyangqatai and their subordinates?

You men sit watching your lord disgraced yet are not moved to worry. The kingdom’s humiliation bears down on your own persons, yet you know no shame. You are generals of the realm but are not angered and resentful that you must wait upon barbarians. You hear the ritual Thái-thường music played at banquets welcoming false ambassadors and your complexions are not moved with fury. Some turn to cockfighting for joy. Some find pleasure in gambling. Some tend to their fields and gardens in order to provide for their families. Others yet attached to their wives and children further only their selfish interests. Improving your own personal ventures, you forget your duties to the army and kingdom. You are extravagant with pleasure outings and hunts through your fields yet lax in training for attack and defense. Some are satisfied with fine wine, others with lewd music. Should the Mongol horde suddenly invade, your rooster’s spurs will not be enough to pierce the invader’s armor. Your gambling ruses will not be enough to execute military strategy. The prosperity of your fields and gardens will not be sufficient to redeem your priceless lives. Attachment to your wife and children will be of no use to the army and kingdom. The abundance of your wealth will be insufficient to purchase the invader’s head. The strength of your hunting hounds will not be enough against the enemy’s numbers. Fine wine will be unable to intoxicate the invader’s soldiers, lewd music insufficient to deafen their ears. At that time, should the servants and masters of my estate be captured it would already be unbearably painful. But not only my fief would be taken, your own official’s salaries would become the possession of other men. Not only would my wife and children be pursued, your own wife and children would become the captives of other men. Not only would the realm of my ancestors be trampled and violated by other men, but the graves of your own parents would be dug up. Not only would I be humiliated in this life, and for a hundred generations hence be disgraced with an indelibly stained reputation, leaving behind an ignominious name for all eternity; the good reputation of your own families would not be spared from being disgraced as defeated generals. At that time, should you desire happiness and content would you be able to obtain it?

I now tell you clearly: Take care as one stacking logs by a burning fire; be cautious as one who having been burned by hot soup blows even on his greens. Instruct and train your officers with bow and arrow, that all may be the equals of Peng Meng and Hou Yi. We will skewer Kublai’s head and hang it from the gates of the imperial palace. Hogedi’s carcass will be left to rot at Kao Chieh. Not only will my fief be evermore secure, you will receive your official’s salaries for the rest of your lives. Not only will my wife and children be secure in their beds and blankets, your own wife and children will be able to grow old together. Not only will my ancestral temple receive sacrificial offerings for ten-thousand generations, your own forefathers will be venerated in the spring and autumn rites. Not only will my purpose be fulfilled in this life, your good reputations will also be passed down incorrupt for a hundred generations. Not only will my posthumous title be forever passed down, your own clan names and personal names will leave behind their fragrance in the annals of history. At that time, though you might desire to be without happiness and content, would you be to avoid it?

I have now made selections from annals of military arts coming from the various schools. These I have compiled into book entitled “Principles of Military Strategy”. If you are able to study this book and practice its principles, receiving my commands, it must be because we were lord and subject in the previous life. If you despise and abandon this book, violating my commands, it must be that we were enemies in the previous life. Why? The Mongols are enemies with whom we cannot share the same sky. If you remain complacent and do not think of washing away this shame, if your hearts are not set on ridding evil and training your soldiers, it is as if you cast away your weapons in surrender, facing the enemy empty-handed. After the invaders are leveled, this shame would be passed down for ten-thousand generations. What face would you then have to stand between Heaven and Earth?

Wishing for you to know my heart, I have written this exhortation.

III.

Notes

– You Jang (豫讓 , Dự Nhượng) swallowed burning coals to distort his voice, hence allowing him to disguise himself on a mission to assassinate the killer of his lord

– Lu Shan (祿山, Lộc Sơn) refers to An Lu-shan (安祿山 , An Lộc Sơn) a Tang dynasty general (703-757) who led a devastating rebellion in 755

– Peng Meng (逄蒙 , Bàng Mông) , Hou Yi (后羿 , Hậu Nghệ), were famous archers of antiquity

– “burned by hot soup…” (懲羹吹虀 , trừng canh xuy tê) is a reference to the Songs of C’hu (楚辭 , Sở từ): “Burned by hot soup I blow my greens” (懲於羹而吹虀兮 , trừng ư canh nhi xuy tê hề)

– Kao Chieh (藁街 , Cảo Nhai) was the area reserved for the rulers of ambassador kingdoms to stay upon visiting the Han dynasty capital, Chang  An (長安 , Trường An)

IV.

Translator’s Commentary

It is important to note that much more so than the Great Proclamation of Nguyễn Trãi recently translated and posted on this blog, this work is most definitely not an “anti-Chinese” document. The use of terms such as “false ambassador” (偽使 , ngụy sứ) assumes that there must be a “legitimate” ambassador. Undoubtedly, the author’s indignation was due in no small part to the fact that a civilized kingdom like Vietnam was facing threat from the Mongols, a people looked down upon as uncivilized barbarians by essentially everyone in the Sinosphere. Interestingly, a later official of the Trần dynasty, Phạm Sư Mạnh (范師孟 , ?-?) wrote a poem congratulating an ambassador from the Ming court that ends with the lines:

大明今日都江左
胡運危亡漢運昌

Đại Minh kim nhật đô Giang Tả
Hồ vận nguy vong Hán vận xương

The great Ming now sets up capital south of the Changjiang river
The barbarian fortunes are in decline, the Han prospering

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