雜記/Tạp ký/Miscellaneous writings

pham quynh

Phạm Quỳnh (范瓊 , 1892-1945) was a famous writer, scholar, and official of the Nguyễn dynasty. He went by the pen-names (號 , hiệu) Thượng Chi (尚之) and Hoa Đường (華堂). In addition to being well-versed in classical Chinese, he was also among one of the first Vietnamese to have an excellent command of French and delve deeply into European philosophy and culture (his French prose was praised by native French scholars). He is today remembered for his work with the intellectual newspaper Nam Phong tạp chí (南風雜誌), a trilingual publication (classical Chinese, Vietnamese, and French) aimed at Vietnamese intellectuals. He tirelessly promoted using the Vietnamese language to write newspaper, poetry, literature, etc. as opposed to solely using classical Chinese. In 1945 he was assassinated by members of the Việt Minh (precursors to the modern day Vietnamese Communist party) for allegedly being a traitor to the Vietnamese people. Today his works, despite being masterpieces of Vietnamese writing, are not well known in Vietnam. The following essay was translated from an unfinished collection of miscellaneous essays entitled Hoa Đường tùy bút (華堂隨筆), on which he was working when assassinated

The Elder Hoa Đường and the Younger Hoa Đường

Everybody knows the classical Chinese poem written about The Tale of Kiều:


Giai nhân bất thị đáo Tiền Đường
Bán thế yên hoa trái vị thường

Had the beauty not reached the Ch’ien T’ang river,
Half a lifetime’s debt of mists and flowers would not have been repaid

The scholar Chu Mạnh Trinh (朱孟楨 , 1862-1905) translated these lines into Vietnamese thusly:

Had the waters of the Ch’ien T’ang not washed way unjustness
Rosy cheeks would yet to have been clean the debt of wind and flowers

That Chinese poem was written by Phạm Quý Thích (范貴適 , 1760-1825), pen names (號 , hiệu) Lập Trai (立齋) and Hoa Đường (華堂), for he was a native of my very own home village of Lương Ngọc (良玉), formerly Lương Đường (良堂) , but known during the Lê dynasty as Hoa Đường (華堂). I admire the talented erudition, fame, and virtue of this scholar from a former generation, who was a true Confucian, meek of temperament and pure. Hence, I have gone to excess in also taking the pen-name of Hoa Đường, regarding him as the elder Hoa Đường and myself as the younger Hoa Đường.

He never wrote any Vietnamese poetry, however it is probable that he was acquainted with Nguyễn Du (阮攸, 1766-1820) from the village of Tiên Điền (仙田), who, in accordance with the propriety of famed scholars from the past, most likely presented him with the work “New Cry from a Broken Heart” (斷腸新聲 , Đoạn Trường Tân Thanh), asking him to write a preface and poems on its content, hence the existence of the above poem. And who knows? Perhaps he carefully read the work and made improvements and revisions here and there. Authors of former ages lacked the professional self-regard of writers belonging to this present day. They were always meek and humble, ever willing to adopt the aesthetic improvements and revisions suggested by writers of talent or elders renowned for their virtue.

Though Phạm Quý Thích did not write any Vietnamese poetry, his Chinese poetry is unparalleled in excellence. His Thảo Đường poetry collection (草堂詩集 , Thảo Đường thi tập) has over one-thousand extant poems, all of which are inscrutably profound and highly refined in tone. Filled with a spirit of overflowing concern and compassion, these poems show clearly the character of a loft scholar, who though having the bearing and air of a religious or immortal, ever dedicated his will to the affairs of the realm.

I still remember one of his poems entitled “Writing my feelings”, which I have had written out to hang in my study; after reading it again and again, I have found it so fitting with my own heart.

Hence, I have here excerpted and translated it:



Thư Hoài

Cố quốc san hà dĩ đại thù
Cố viên tùng cúc bán hoang vu
Mang mang thiên địa hoàn bô khách
Nhiễu nhiễu phong trần tự hủ nho
Bệnh cốt bình phân thu lĩnh sấu
Thần tâm nhưng bạn nguyệt luân cô
Hữu nhân khuyến ngã bôi trung thú
Vị vấn Tam Lư khẳng túy vô

Writing My Feelings

Mountains and rivers of the old realm have completely changed
In my old garden, the pines and chrysanthemums are half overrun with weeds
In the vastness of heaven and earth, I am once again a lone traveler
Amidst swirling wind and dust a single useless scholar
My sick bones are as haggard as the autumn mountaintop
A subject’s heart companion only to the lonely moon
Some recommend me to take pleasure in drink
I ask: Would San Lu ever consent to being drunk?

The elder Hoa Đường was born at the end of the Lê dynasty and the beginning of the Nguyễn dynasty; living in an age of chaos, he was self-aware that a useless Confucian could do nothing in the face of tumultuous times. Hence, in determining to live as a recluse, maintaining his own lofty and pure virtue, how much more exalted was he then this younger Hoa Đường here, who also being born into an age of disorder in which Asia and Europe are in conflict, has foolishly cast himself into the midst of a confused tempest, not knowing that in this dark age, a useless Confucian such as himself cannot shoulder the burdens of the times, unaware that in a society that chases after the latest trends and flatters the masses, there are none who still care or concern for literati and Confucian scholars. I only know to bring a refined Confucian air of meekness to face this roaring tempest, this utter confusion, this utter chaos…

Reading Lập Trai’s poetry, I am ashamed that I am not as resolute in my will as him. Clumsy and useless in both activity and retirement, I truly lag far behind the men of former generations.

However, being an old subject of the Lê dynasty, when the founding emperor of our own dynasty summoned him forth to serve as a minister, he was able to decline by claiming to be of ill-health. As for Nguyễn Du, who lived in the same period, not having any compelling reason to be spared of service, he was forced to follow the times, ultimately dying disappointed at having not fulfilled his will. Though his life was more tempestuous, the result was that he wrote a marvelous work of literature to leave for future generations. Was it not because of his pain of heart at the events which he witnessed that this achievement was completed? If so, there are multiple ways of activity and retirement, differing only in a single word – that being, “talent”.

However, the word for “talent”  (才 , tài) rhymes with “disaster” (災 , tai), as Nguyễn Du himself has taught.


– “Mists and flowers” (煙花 , yên hoa) and “wind and flowers” (風花 , phong hoa) here refer to degradation from being forced into prostitution (central to the plot of The Tale of Kiều)

– San Lu (三閭, Tam Lư) is a reference to Qu-yuan (屈原, Khuất Nguyên, 343-278 B.C.) who famously said “The whole world is polluted, I alone am clean. All men are intoxicated, I alone am alert” (舉世皆濁我獨清眾人皆醉我獨醒, Cử thế giai trọc ngã đọc thanh, chúng nhân giai túy ngã độc tỉnh). He ended his life by drowning himself in a river rather than live unappreciated and useless in an age of chaos.




Áo Đinh du ký

Mùa đông năm Giáp Ngọ, nhận lời mời của quý hữu họ Trần, Nguyễn tử cùng với khách thẳng lên kinh thành Áo Đinh. Đêm tá túc ở một quán trọ bên đường. Ngày hôm sau cùng nhau lên núi Bôn Nẵng, là địa điểm cao nhất trong kinh vậy.

Tới nơi, trên đỉnh núi có thạch đài, giữa đài có bia ghi công của tướng quân đời xưa. Đặc biệt trên đài phải trái có bàn ghế đá, hầu cho khách chơi lên núi được nghỉ chân, ngày sáng hoặc đêm tối đều có thể ngồi thanh thản mà thưởng gió trăng, hoặc hoan ẩm nói cười cùng người anh em mà ngâm vần yên hà, hoặc ngồi yên trầm tư mặc tưởng mà lặng xem cảnh vật biến đổi theo bốn mùa. Nguyễn tử cùng khách bèn nghỉ gót, cùng nhau xa trông ra bốn phía. Ngẩng lên trời, chỉ thấy đám mây vần vũ lãng đãng trôi, theo chiều gió mà đổi vẻ thiên hình vạn trạng. Nhìn xuống núi, cây cối rậm rạp, cỏ đá chen nhau, sông dài uốn quanh như rồng như rắn lúc ẩn lúc hiện. Gió bấc hiu hắt, sóng xanh lăn tăn, quan hà có vẻ ảm đạm tiêu lương, khách chơi cũng chạnh lòng tha hương mà lo buồn.

Khi ấy, Nguyễn tử kêu to một tiếng, lấy tay gõ khúc lan can mà hát.

Hát rằng:
Lên cao tóc khách phất phơ,
Đường trần mòn mỏi bây giờ lại đây.
Ngắm xa luống chạnh niềm tây,
Nước mây lạnh lẽo cỏ cây rầu rầu.
Gió bay lá rụng về đâu,
Sóng trào cuồn cuộn một mầu xanh xanh.
Ngùi trông vạn vật điêu linh,
Bốn bề bát ngát thương mình lẻ loi!

Đoạn rồi Nguyễn tử đăm đăm vẻ mặt, thở dài mà hỏi khách rằng: Nhìn xem phong cảnh, trước thời cảm, sau lại sầu. Sao vậy?

Khách rằng: Câu “Thao thao sông cả về đông, cuốn đi hết thảy anh hùng ngàn xưa” chẳng phải là câu từ của Tô Tử Chiêm rư? Xưa kia, Tử Chiêm cùng khách thả thuyền, rong chơi trên dòng Xích Bích. Núi to sông rộng, phong cảnh xem như hữu tình. Gió mát trăng trong, cảm thán mà nên thơ ca. Nay, tôi với ông anh lên cao trông vời, mà đây chẳng phải là dòng Xích Bích, lại chẳng phải chốn hùng quan thắng cảnh như Giang Hán, Tiêu Tương. Tôi với ông anh lại chẳng phải Tử Chiêm cùng khách năm xưa vậy. Khảng khái hoài cổ, bàn chuyện cao kỳ, tự cho mình khác phàm tục, há chẳng nực cười lắm ru?

Nguyễn tử cười đáp: Tôi thường nghe bậc tuấn kiệt nhờ khí thiêng của non sông hun đúc mà nên. Song le, giang sơn luôn có mà anh hùng lại ít. Sao vậy? Giang sơn là một vật to lớn mà vô tình. Khách chơi mỗi bận một khác, mà non xanh nước biếc vẫn non xanh nước biếc mà thôi. Trong lòng không nuôi hoài bão lớn lao, dù có dầm mưa giãi gió lên cao xuống sâu, cũng chẳng hơn quanh quanh quẩn quẩn nơi hoang thôn vậy. Cảnh trí nơi đây tuy chẳng phải danh sơn tú thủy, thế mà cũng chung một kho vô tận của tạo hóa vậy. Bọn ta việc gì không được vui thú với non sông? Kẻ trượng phu tuy ở nơi lậu thất, mà chí hướng như tuấn mã nam rong bắc ruổi xa ngoài ngàn dậm. Người xưa có lời rằng: Không phải nhờ ngoài vật mà vui. Không phải vì bản thân mà buồn. Trong triều ở quê, riêng ôm một tấc lòng tiên ưu hậu lạc khôn rời mà thôi. Ta khéo nuôi cái hạo nhiên chánh khí Trời phú, trên thân mặc áo vải chẳng thẹn thùng, áo xiêm chẳng mê mẩn. Ở chốn giang hồ xa xôi nỗi lòng bảo quốc an dân không khác khi ở nơi miếu đường cao quý. Thân tuy già cỗi đất khách phương xa, mà lòng luôn hướng về nước cũ người xưa. Được như thế, duy có bậc đại trượng phu chăng. Cho nên, sông này tuy chẳng phải dòng Xích Bích, tôi đây tuy chẳng phải ngài Tử Chiêm, ông anh tuy chẳng phải khách năm xưa, song le cái tình huống của người quân tử với non sông xưa nay nào có khác gì đâu. Huống chi tôi với ông anh đều làm khách mất nước xa nhà, nay được cùng nhau chơi chốn núi cao, hứng gió nghiêng bầu, tâm thần khoáng đạt, quên sạch lo buồn thế trần mà hướng dần về sự cao viễn. Tao nhân mặc khách gặp cảnh này mà không cao hứng, thế thời biết bao giờ mới được vui chăng? Tình này cảnh này, duy có tôi và ông anh hay biết, người đời khôn dò xét được. Dù có kẻ tiểu tri chê bọn ta nhỏ dạ to gan, cũng chẳng khác hạ sĩ nghe Đạo cả mà cười lớn vậy.

Khách cả mừng mà cười, bèn cùng Nguyễn tử thu vạt áo mà ngồi nghỉ. Kính nhau vài chén, đoạn theo nhau xuống núi ra về.

Về lại nhà viết bài ký để làm kỷ niệm.

Đây là bài ký.

Hưu Đốn mùa đông, Nhị Trà Nguyễn Thụy Đan tự Thuận Tâm viết bài ký


In the winter of the Giap Ngo year (2014), accepting the invitation of my esteemed friend of the Trần family, I along with a friend went straightaway to the capital city of Austin. At nightfall, we stayed in an inn alongside the road. The day after we went together to Mount Bonnell, the tallest location in the capital.

Upon arriving, atop the mount was a stone pavilion, in the center of which was a memorial tablet recording the merits of a general from previous generations. Particularly, to the right and left of the pavilion were stone tables and chairs upon which travelers to the mount could rest their feet after ascending the mount. Whether in the light of day or dark of night, one could sit at ease and enjoy the wind and moon, or, drinking merrily rife with talking and laughter with one’s brothers, one could recite poetry inspired by the mist and clouds of the scenery, or one could sit still lost in deep thought and silent meditation, quietly examining the transformation of creation along with changes of the four seasons. I along with my friend decided to rest our feet, and together gazed far-off in all four directions. Looking up at the heavens, all that could be seen were swirling rain clouds drifting slowly, following the direction of the wind and changing into forms of countless variety. Gazing down the mountain, trees and vegetation grew thick, rocks and weeds competed with each other for space, and the long river wrapped around like a dragon or serpent, now hidden now clear. The north wind sighed dolefully, green waves rippled, the countryside seemed bleak and desolate, cold and sorrowful, and travelers far from home became sad and anxious.

At this time, I gave a loud cry, and beat the railing with my hand, singing:

Ascending this height, a traveler’s hair is wind-blown
Weary of life, I have now come to this place
Gazing into the distance, my hidden feelings are renewed
Rivers and clouds appear frigid and cold, trees and grasses sorrowful
To where does the blowing wind take fallen leaves
The billowing waves are all one green color
Sadly observing all creation in wither and decay
Surrounded by the vastness of the four directions, pained at my own loneliness!

After this, my complexion become worried and lost in thought, heaving a long sigh, I asked my friend, saying: When observing the scenery, first I am moved and inspired, and then sorrowful. Why is this?

My friend answered, saying: “The great rivers flows east, washing away the heroes of a thousand ages past”, is this not a line from the lyric poetry of Su T’zu Chan? In the past, T’zu Chan and his friend drifted along in a boat, making merry on the river of Ch’ih-pi. Among towering mountains and the vast river, the scenery seemed to share human emotions. In the cool wind and bright moon, their impassioned sighs were transformed into poetry and song. Now, you and I ascend this height and gaze out far into the distance, but this is not the river of Ch’ih-pi, nor is it a magnificent and grand scene like the rivers Ch’iang and the Han, or the H’siao and the H’siang. Furthermore, you and I are not T’zu Chan and his friend from years past. To intently and boldly meditate on the past, discussing strange and great deeds, fancying ourselves different from the multitude of common men, is this not very laughable?

I laughed and replied: I have often heard that valiant and brilliant men rely on the sacred spirit of the countryside to produce them. However, rivers and mountains are ever present, but heroes are few. Why is this? The countryside is vast, but lacks consciousness. Each time a traveler comes to enjoy the scenery he is different, but lush mountains and blue rivers remain ever the same. If one does not harbor vast and great ambition in his heart, even should he brave wind and rain climbing tall mountains and descending into deep caves, it would not be any better than walking to and fro in a deserted village. Though the scenery here is not a famous mountain or magnificent river, it is still a part of the inexhaustible reserves of the Creator. What reason have we not to enjoy it? A man of great principle though living in a dilapidated hut has ambition that is like a fierce stallion, running north and south faraway ten-thousand miles. The ancients once said: Rejoice not because of external objects, nor be sorrowed at oneself. Whether in the imperial court or in one’s home village, one ought to maintain one heart for worrying first for the worries of the realm, and then rejoicing after the realm has rejoiced. If I am diligent in nourishing the vast and righteous spirit given to me by heaven, though my body should wear cloth garments I would not be ashamed, though I should wear fine silk, I would not be deluded. Faraway among remote rivers and lakes, my heart does not waiver from defending the country and bringing peace to the people, just as when I dwell in magnificent palaces and temples. Though my body ages and withers in a faraway land, my heart is ever with the old country and the people of former generations. To achieve this, truly it takes a true man of great principle! Though this river is not that of Ch’ih-pi, though I am not T’zu Chan, though you are not his friend from years of old, is there any difference in the connection between superior men and the countryside past and present? Furthermore, you and I are both travelers who have lost their country and are far from home, now that we have this chance to ascend this height, facing the wind and tilting our goblets, our spirits are boundless and roam free, the worries of ordinary life are completely forgotten, and gradually we begin to approach the lofty and distant. If refined poets and scholars could face this scenery and not be inspired, who knows when they would ever be happy! This feeling, this condition, is known to only you and I, ordinary people of the world cannot understand it. Should there be someone of small understanding that mocks us, saying that we are pretentious, it would not be any different than a lowly scholar laughing at the great Dao.

My friend greatly rejoiced and laughed, and joined me in adjusting our garments and sitting down to rest. After joining each other for a few drinks, we descended the mountain together and went home.

After returning home, I wrote this record for memory’s sake.

This is the record.

Houston winter, Nhị Trà Nguyễn Thụy Đan courtesy name Thuận Tâm wrote this record

tran quy cap

Trần Quý Cáp (陳季恰, 1870-1908) was a Vietnamese scholar and reformer born during the reign of Nguyễn Dực Tông (阮翼宗, 1829-1883). His courtesy names (字, tự) were Dã Hàng (野航) and Thích Phu (適夫). He is also known by his pen-name (號, hiệu) Thai Xuyên (台川). Born in the village of Bất Nhị (不貳) in Quang Nam province  (廣南省, Quảng Nam tỉnh) of central Vietnam, his family was poor and lived off the land as peasants. His childhood name was Nghị (誼). His family too poor to buy books, he studied in private at the houses of retired scholars in the area. In his youth, his teachers already noted his exceptional intelligence. In 1899, his father became gravely ill. He stayed by his father’s side, taking care of him, until his father passed away. During the mourning period after his father’s death, he stayed home and  taught students in addition to working in the field to support and care for his mother. He went to to pass through several levels of the imperial civil-service examinations. In 1904, “old learning” (舊學, cựu học) was already becoming outdated and Trần Quý Cáp was among the first scholars to promote “new learning” (新學, tân học), particularly through the translation of Chinese books known as “new books” (新書, tân thư) written by revolutionary authors such as Khang Hữu Vi (康有為, 1858-1927) and Lương Khải Siêu (梁啟超, 1873-1929). He was later apprehended by the French and executed without a clear reason in the coastal city of Nha Trang (芽莊). His death was mourned by Vietnamese scholars around the nation.




讀書明理,所謂士夫者,存也。 何乃一般古學埋頭於八股殘編,四家爛紙,以自誇淹博,而東京西貢不知為何處地方。多數新時醉心於五洲錦繡,三島神仙,徒競尚浮囂,於開智治生無補一毫實事。


Sĩ phu tự trị luận

Luận viết: Quốc chi luân vong cửu hĩ, nhi nhất tuyến chi sinh cơ thượng tồn giả, hà tại hồ, hà tại hồ?

Độc thư minh lý, sở vị sĩ phu giả, tồn dã. Hà nãi nhất bàn cổ học mai đầu ư bát cổ tàn biên, tứ gia lạn chỉ, dĩ tự khoa yêm bác, nhi Đông Kinh, Tây Cống bất tri vi hà xứ địa phương. Đa số tân thì tuý tâm ư ngũ châu cẩm tú, Tam Đảo thần tiên, đồ cạnh thượng phù hiêu, ư khai trí trị sinh vô bổ nhất hào thực sự.

Y! Dân khí tiêu trầm dĩ phi nhất nhật. Phong trào sở cập, đại mộng vị tinh. Thương mang tứ cố, ngô tương trù ỷ. Cập kim bất phấn, chủng loại kỳ nguy!


On scholars and self-governance

The country has sunken in disaster for long now, but still a single thread of life remains. For what reason has it survived? For what reason?

Studying the books and understanding the principles of those called scholars is why our country remains. But what need is there to bury one’s head in the decayed chapters of eight-legged essays and the tattered manuscripts of the four schools in order to brag of one’s erudition, when one does not even know the location of Đông Kinh and Tây Cống! The minds and hearts of the majority are intoxicated with fine fabrics from the five continents and fanciful stories from Japan. Competing in useless endeavors, one feather of real substance cannot be shown for expanding understanding and governing the people.

Alas! The spirits of the people have not been dispelled and dissipated for just single day. Storms of wind and wave approach, but we have not awakened from this great dream. Looking to all four directions of the vast, blue sea, on whom can I depend? If we do not exert our strength now, what dangers await our people!


– “eight-legged essays” (八股文, bát cổ văn) refers to an archaic style of essay writing used in the imperial civil-service examination

– I am not clear what “four schools” (四家, tứ gia) are being referenced.

– Đông Kinh (東京) and Tây Cống (西貢) are better known by the names of Hà Nội (河內) and Sài Gòn. Đông Kinh (東京) here does not refer to Tokyo which, coincidentally, is written using the same Chinese characters.

-This passage has been translated into Vietnamese by the poet Nguyễn Gia Trụ (阮嘉柱, 1906-1994), better known by his pen-name (號, hiệu) Đông Xuyên (東川). The famous scholar and author Nguyễn Hiến Lê (阮獻梨, 1912-1984) described him as the last product of Vietnamese Confucianism, after which no one could follow.

Nước ta chìm đắm đã lâu mà cái máy sống như một sợi chỉ mong manh vẫn còn, là nhờ ở đâu, nhờ ở đâu?

Ở nơi dốc chí đọc sách, hiểu rõ nghĩa lý của đám sĩ phu mới gọi là còn được.

Sao đến nỗi một ban học cũ, vùi đầu trong đám sách nát của văn chương bát cổ, giấy mực của bốn nhà để tự khoe học rộng nhớ nhiều mà khi hỏi đến Tây Cống, Đông Kinh thì không biết đó là nơi nào, xứ nào cả. Một số lớn người mới say lòng nơi gấm vóc năm châu, sự phồn thịnh của Ba Đảo (Nhật Bản) uổng công tranh đua với nhau về những cái hiểu biết phù hiêu mà đến việc mở trí cho quốc dân, xây dựng đời sống mới thì không được một mảy may thực dụng.

Ôi! Khí dân tiêu trầm nào phải một ngày, sóng gió dồn dập đến mà giấc mộng lớn vẫn chưa tỉnh. Bốn biển xanh biếc mênh mông, ta biết dựa vào đâu? Bây giờ mà không phấn chấn tự cường, ắt là giống nòi nguy mất!

– The illustration is a picture of a manuscript of a biography of Trần Quý Cáp written by fellow scholar and reformer Huỳnh Thúc Kháng (黃叔抗, 1876-1947) who has previously been featured on this blog.


Excerpted from the writings of the 20th century Vietnamese nationalist, Phan Bội Châu 潘佩珠:

The student said: May I dare to ask the meaning of ‘self-strengthening’?

The master replied: The Book of Changes says – The Way of Heaven, in its motions, suggests strength. The superior man follows this and strengthens himself without ceasing. That which is called ‘self-strengthening’ is found only in oneself. I exercise my hands and feet, I expand my vision and hearing, I open my thoughts, I exert my spirit, I have the power to advance without turning back to face the enemy and render retribution, honoring my ruler and loving my country, I have one indomitable spirit that cannot shatter, like a raging fire consuming the mountains, like the thundering waves crashing down on the sea, whoever touches me will be incinerated and drowned, those who gaze upon me will only be able to sigh in awe. If the people of the country know how to strength themselves, what worry would there be that their country would not strengthen itself? However, the motivation for self-strengthening is only found in the love for one’s country and desire to preserve and protect one’s race.

童子曰: 《敢問自強之說若何。 》

主人曰: 《易曰:天行健, 君子以自強不息。所謂自強亦在乎我而已, 我勉我手足, 我豁我耳目, 我開我心思, 我奮我精神, 我有赴敵報仇一往無別之氣, 我有尊君愛國百折不挫之心, 如熾火烈山, 潮水住海, 犯之者焦, 觸之者溺, 令人望而觀 仰而歎耳。國人各知自強, 何患其國之不能自強耶。然原其自強之尊旨, 則惟在於愛國保種而已。 》

Đồng tử viết: Cảm vấn tự cường chi thuyết nhược hà?

Chủ nhân viết: Dịch viết – Thiên hành kiện, quân tử dĩ tự cường bất tức. Sở vị tự cường diệc tại hồ ngã nhi dĩ. Ngã miễn ngã thủ túc, ngã hoát ngã nhĩ mục, ngã khai ngã tâm tư, ngã phấn ngã tinh thần, ngã hữu phó địch báo cừu nhất vãng vô biệt chi khí, ngã hữu tôn quân ái quốc bách chiết bất tỏa chi tâm, như sí hỏa liệt sơn, triều thủy trú hải, phạm chi giả tiêu, xúc chi giả nịch, lệnh nhân vọng nhi quan ngưỡng nhi thán nhĩ. Quốc nhân các tri tự cường, hà hoạn kỳ quốc chi bất năng tự cường da. Nhiên nguyên kỳ tự cường chi tôn chỉ, tắc duy tại ư ái quốc bảo chủng nhi dĩ.

[Đồng tử nói rằng: Dám hỏi thuyết tự cường là nhu thế nào?

Chủ nhân đáp rằng: “Kinh Dịch nói rằng: Đạo trời vậnh hành rất mạnh, người quân tử thể theo đó mà tự cường luôn, không bao giờ nghỉ”. Bảo là tự cường, cũng chỉ ở nơi mình mà thôi. Ta tung động chân tay của ta, ta mở rộng tai mắt của ta, ta mở mang tâm tư của ta, ta phân phát tinh thần của ta, ta có cái khí thế giết giặc báo thù, chỉ xông lên mà không thụt lùi, ta có cái tâm tình thương dân yêu nước*, trăm lần bẻ không chịu gẫy, như thể lửa mạnh cháy rừng, nước trào ngập bể, hể ai chạm đến thì chết thiêu, động vào là chết đắm, khiến cho người ta trông thấy mà phải kinh hồn bạt vía. Nếu dân trong nước, ai ai cũng biết tự cường, thì lo gì mà nước không tự cường được. Nhưng xét đến nguồn gốc tôn chỉ của tự cường, cũng chỉ ở chỗ biết thương nước yêu nòi mà thôi”. ] – Chương Thâu dịch

*thương dân yêu nước – nguyên văn là tôn quân ái quốc, nghĩa là tôn vua yêu nước.

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