Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义)

With Contributor Notes
ThreeKingdoms.com
(Original Online Novel)
About the Three Kingdoms
Kongming’s Archives
Character Encyclopedia
Novel Purchase Guide
Attributed to
Luo Guanzhong
(Circa 1300–1400)
Translated by
C.H. Brewitt-Taylor
Edited by
Snow N. Snow

Chapter 120

Recommending Du Yu, an Old General Offers New Plans
Capturing of Sun Hao, Three Kingdoms Becomes One

When Sun Xiu, the Ruler of Wu, knew that the House of Wei had fallen before the Jins, he also knew that the usurper’s next thought would be the conquest of his own land. The anxiety made him ill, so that he took to his bed and was like to die. He then summoned to his bedside his Prime Minister, Puyang Xing, and his heir, Sun Wan. But they two came almost too late. The dying Ruler, with his last effort, took the Minister by the hand, but could only point to his son. Then he died.

Puyang Xing left the couch and called a meeting of the officers, whereat he proposed to place the heir on his father’s throne.

Then Wan Yu, Inspector of the Left Army, rose and said, “Prince Sun Wan is too youthful to rule in such troublous times. Let us confer the throne to Sun Hao, Lord of Wucheng.”

Zhang Bu, General of the Left Army, supported his election, saying, “Sun Hao is able and prompt in decision. He can handle the responsibilities of an emperor.”

However, Puyang Xing was doubtful and consulted the Empress Dowager.

“Settle this with the officials;” she replied, “I am a widow and know nothing of such matters.”

Finally Sun Hao won the day, and in the seventh month he was enthroned as Emperor of Wu, and the first year of his reign was Prosperous Beginning (AD 264). Sun Hao was the son of Sun He, a former Heir Apparent, and grandson of Sun Quan the Great Emperor. The excluded prince, Sun Wan, was consoled with the title of Prince of Yuzhang. Posthumous rank was given to his late father, Sun He the Scholar Emperor, and his mother, Lady He, the Scholar Empress. The Veteran Leader Ding Feng was made Commander of the Right and Left Armies.

However, the year-style was changed to Sweet Dew the very next year. The new ruler soon proved himself cruel and oppressive and day by day grew more so. Sun Hao indulged in every form of vice and chose Eunuch Cen Hun as his confidant and favorite. When Prime Minister Puyang Xing and General Zhang Bu ventured upon remonstrance, both, with all their family, were put to death. Thereafter none dared to speak; the mouth of every courtier was shut tight.

Another year-style, Treasured Paramount, was adopted the next year (266), and the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s office was shared by two officers, Lu Kai the Left and Wan Yu the Right.

At this time the imperial residence was in Wuchang. The people of Yangzhou shouldered heavy tribute and suffered exceedingly. There was no limit to the Ruler’s extravagance. The treasury was swept clean, and the income of the royal domain exhausted.

At length Lu Kai, Left Prime Minister, ventured a memorial, saying:

“No natural calamity has fallen upon the people, yet they starve; no public work is in progress, yet the treasury is empty. I am distressed. The country under the Hans has fallen apart and three states have arisen therefrom. Those ruled by the Caos and the Lius, as the result of their own folly, have been lost in Jin. Foolish I may be, but I would protect the state for Your Majesty against the evils we have seen in the other divisions. This city of Wuchang is not safe as a royal residence. There is a rhyme concerning it, the gist of which is that it is better to drink the water of Jianye than eat the fish of Wuchang, better to die in Jianye than to live in Wuchang. This shows the regard of the people as well as the will of Heaven. Now the public storehouses are nearly empty; they contain insufficient for a year’s use. The officers of all grades vex and distress the people and none pity them.

“In former times the Palace women numbered less than a hundred; for years past they have exceeded a thousand. This is an extravagant waste of treasure. The courtiers render no disinterested service, but are split into cliques and cabals. The honest are injured, and the good driven away. All these things undermine the state and weaken the people. I beg Your Majesty to reduce the number of officers and remove grievances, to dismiss the Palace women and select honest officers, to the joy of the people and the tranquillity of the state.”

But the Ruler of Wu was displeased, threw the memorial away, and showed his contempt for the Minister’s remonstrance by beginning to collect material for the building of a new palace complex to be called the Reflected Light Palace. He even made the officers of the court go into the forest to fell trees for the work.

The Ruler of Wu called in the soothsayer Shang Guang and bade him take the cast and inquire as to the attainment of empire.

Shang Guang cast a lot and replied, “All is propitious, and in the year of the ‘mouse’ your blue umbrella will enter Luoyang!”

And Sun Hao was pleased.

He said to Minister Hua He, “The former Rulers listened to your words and sent generals to various points and placed defensive camps along the rivers. And over all these was set Ding Feng. Now my desire is to conquer Han and avenge the wrongs of my brother, the Ruler of Shu. What place should be first conquered?”

Hua He replied, “Now that Chengdu has fallen and the Throne there been overturned, Sima Yan will assuredly desire to absorb this southern land. Your Majesty should display virtue and restore confidence to your people. That would be the best plan. If you engage in war, it will be like throwing on hemp to put out a fire—the hemp only adds to the blaze. This is worthy of careful consideration.”

But Sun Hao grew angry and said, “I desire to take this opportunity to return to my real heritage. Why do you employ this ill-omened language? Were it not for your long service, now would I slay you and expose your head as a warning.”

He bade the lictors hustle Minister Hua He from his presence, and Hua He left the court.

“It is pitiful,” said Hua He. “Ere long our silky, beautiful country will pass to another!”

So Hua He retired.

And the Ruler of Wu ordered Lu Kang, General Who Guards the East, to camp his army at Jiangkou in order to attack Xiangyang.

Spies reported this in Luoyang, and it was told the Ruler of Jin. When Sima Yan heard that the army of Wu threatened to invade Xiangyang, he called a council.

Jia Chong stood forth, saying, “I hear the government of Wu, under its present ruler, Sun Hao, is devoid of virtue, and the Ruler of Wu has turned aside out of the road. Your Majesty should send Commander Yang Hu to oppose this army. When internal trouble shall arise, let him attack, and victory will then be easy.”

The Ruler of Jin issued an edict ordering Yang Hu to prepare, and so he mustered his troops and set himself to guard the county.

Yang Hu became very popular in Xiangyang. Any of the soldiers of Wu who desired to desert to the other side were allowed to come over. He employed only the fewest possible troops on patrol duty. Instead he set his soldiers to till the soil, and they cultivated an extensive area, whereby the hundred days supplies with which they set out were soon increased to enough for ten years.

Yang Hu maintained great simplicity, wearing the lightest of garments and no armor. His personal escort and servants numbered only about ten.

One day his officers came to his tent and said, “The spies reported great laxity in the enemy’s camp. It is time to make an attack!”

But Yang Hu replied, “You must not despise Lu Kang, for he is able and crafty. Formerly his master sent him to attack Xiling, and he slew Bu Chan and many of his generals, before I could save that city. So long as Lu Kang remains in command, I shall remain on the defensive. I shall not attack till there be trouble and confusion among our enemies. To be rash and not await the proper moment to attack is to invite defeat.”

They found him wise and said no more. They only kept the boundaries.

One day Yang Hu and his officers went out to hunt, and it happened that Lu Kang had chosen the same day to hunt. Yang Hu gave strict orders not to cross the boundary, and so each hunted only on his own side.

Lu Kang was astonished at the enemy’s scrupulous propriety.

He sighed, “The soldiers of Yang Hu have so high a discipline that I may not make any invasion now.”

In the evening, after both parties had returned, Yang Hu ordered an inspection of the slaughtered game and sent over to the other side any that seemed to have been first struck by the soldiers of Wu.

Lu Kang was greatly pleased and sent for the bearers of the game.

“Does your leader drink wine?” asked he.

They replied, “Only fine wines does he drink.”

“I have some very old wine,” replied Lu Kang, smiling, “and I will give of it to you to bear to your general as a gift. It is the wine I myself brew and drink on ceremonial occasions, and he shall have half in return for today’s courtesy.”

They took the wine and left.

“Why do you give him wine?” asked Lu Kang’s officers.

“Because he has shown kindness, and I must return courtesy for courtesy.”

When the gift of wine arrived and the bearers told Yang Hu the story of their reception, he laughed.

“So he knows I can drink,” said Yang Hu.

He had the jar opened, and the wine was poured out. One of his generals, Chen Yuan, begged him to drink moderately lest there should be some harm come of it.

Lu Kang is no poisoner,” replied Yang Hu.

And he drank. The friendly intercourse thus continued, and messengers frequently passed from one camp to the other.

One day the messengers said that Lu Kang was unwell and had been ailing for several days.

“I think he suffers from the same complaint as I,” said Yang Hu. “I have some remedies ready prepared and will send him some.”

The drugs were taken over to the Wu camp.

But the sick man’s officers were suspicious and said, “This medicine is surely harmful: It comes from the enemy.”

However, Lu Kang said, “No, old Uncle Yang Hu would not poison a person. Do not doubt.”

He drank the decoction. Next day he was much better.

When his staff came to congratulate him, he said, “If our opponents take their stand upon virtue and we take ours upon violence, they will drag us after them without fighting. See to it that the boundaries be well kept and that we seek not to gain any unfair advantage.”

Soon after came a special envoy from the Ruler of Wu to urge upon Lu Kang prompt activity.

“Our Emperor sends orders for you to press forward,” said the envoy. “You are not to await a Jin invasion.”

“You may return, and I will send up a memorial,” replied Lu Kang.

So a memorial was written and soon followed the envoy to the capital, which by this time was Jianye. When the Ruler of Wu, Sun Hao, read it, he found therein many arguments against attacking Jin and exhortations to exercise a virtuous rule instead of engaging in hostilities. It angered him.

“They say Lu Kang has come to an understanding with the enemy, and now I believe it!” said the Ruler of Wu.

Thereupon he deprived Lu Kang of his command and took away his commission and degraded him into Marching General. Sun Ji, General of the Left Army, was sent to supersede Lu Kang. And none dared to intervene.

Sun Hao became still more arbitrary and of his own will changed the year-style once more to the Phoenix (AD 269). Day by day his life became more wanton and vicious. The soldiers in every camp murmured with anger and resentment, and at last three high officers—Prime Minister Wan Yu, General Liu Ping, and Minister of Agriculture Lou Xuan—boldly and earnestly remonstrated with the Emperor for his many irregularities. They suffered death. Within ten years more than forty ministers were put to death for doing their duty.

Sun Hao maintained an extravagantly large guard of fifty thousand heavy cavalry, and these soldiers were the terror of everyone.

Now when Yang Hu, on the Jin side of the frontier, heard that his opponent Lu Kang had been removed from his command and that the conduct of the Ruler of Wu had become wholly unreasonable, he knew that the time was near for him to conquer Wu. Wherefore he presented a memorial:

“Although fate is superior to human, yet success depends upon human effort. Now as the geographic difficulties of the South Land are not as those of the River Lands, while the ferocity of Sun Hao exceeds that of Liu Shan, the misery of the people of Wu exceeds that of the dwellers in Shu. Our armies are stronger than ever before, and if we miss this opportunity to bring the whole land under one rule, but continue to weary our army with continual watching and cause the world to groan under the burden of militarism, then our efficiency will decline and we shall not endure.”

When Sima Yan read this, he gave orders for the army to move. But three officers—Jia Chong, Xun Xu, and Feng Dan—opposed it, and the orders were withdrawn.

Yang Hu was disappointed at the news and said, “What a pity it is that of ten affairs in the world, one always meets with eight or nine vexations!”

In the fourth year of Universal Tranquillity, in Jin calendar (AD 278), Yang Hu went to court and asked leave to retire on account of ill health.

Before granting him leave to go, Sima Yan asked, “Do you have plans to propose to settle the empire?”

Yang Hu replied, “Sun Hao is a very cruel ruler and could be conquered without fighting. If he were to die and a wise successor sat upon his throne, Your Majesty would never be able to gain possession of Wu.”

The Ruler of Jin realized the truth, and he said, “Suppose your army attacked now. What then?”

“I am now too old and too ill for the task,” replied Yang Hu. “Some other bold and capable leader must be found.”

Yang Hu left the court and retired to his home. Toward the end of the year he was nigh unto death, and the Ruler of Jin went to visit him. The sight of his master at his bedside brought tears to the eyes of the faithful old leader.

“If I died a myriad times, I could never requite Your Majesty,” said Yang Hu.

Sima Yan also wept, saying, “My great grief is that I could not take advantage of your abilities to attack Wu. Who now is there to carry out your design?”

Hesitatingly the sick man replied, “I am dying and must be wholly sincere. General Du Yu is equal to the task, and is the one man to attack Wu.”

Sima Yan said, “How beautiful it is to bring good people into prominence! But why did you write a memorial recommending certain people and then burn the draft so that no one knew?”

The dying man answered, “I bowed before the officials in open court, but I did not beseech the kindness of the private attendants.”

So Yang Hu died, and Sima Yan wailed for him and then returned to his palace. He conferred on the dead leader the posthumous rank of Imperial Guardian and Lord of Juping. The traders closed their shops out of respect to his memory, and all the frontier camps were filled with wailing. The people of Xiangyang, recalling that he loved to wander on the Xian Hills, built there a temple to him and set up a stone and sacrificed regularly at the four seasons. The passers-by were moved to tears when they read Yang Hu’s name on the tablet, so that it came to be called “The Stone of Tears”.

I saw the fragments of a shattered stone
One spring time on the hillside, when, alone,
I walked to greet the sun. The pines distilled
Big drops of dew unceasing; sadness filled
My heart. I knew this was the Stone of Tears,
The stone of memory of long-past years.

On the strength of Yang Hu’s recommendation, Du Yu was made Commander of Jingzhou, and the title of General Who Guards the South was conferred upon him. He was a man of great experience, untiring in study and devoted to the Zuo Volume, the book of commentaries composed by Zuo Qiuming upon the Spring and Autumn Annals. In hours of leisure, a copy of Zuo Volume was never out of his hand; and when he went abroad, an attendant rode in front with the beloved book. He was said to be “Zuo mad”.

Du Yu went to Xiangyang and began by being kind to the people and caring for his soldiers. By this time Wu had lost by death both Ding Feng and Lu Kang.

The conduct of the Ruler of Wu waxed worse and worse. He used to give great banquets whereat intoxication was universal. He appointed Rectors of Feasts to observe all the faults committed by guests, and after these banquets all offenders were punished, some by flaying the face, others by gouging out the eyes. Everyone went in terror of these Rectors.

Wang Jun, Imperial Protector of Yizhou, sent in a memorial advising an attack upon Wu. He said:

Sun Hao is steeped in vice and should be attacked at once. Should he die and be succeeded by a good ruler, we might meet with serious opposition. The ships I built seven years ago lie idle and rotting: We can use them. I am seventy years of age and must soon die. If any one of these three events happen—the death of Sun Hao, the destruction of these ships, or my death—then success will be difficult to ensure. I pray Your Majesty not to miss the tide.”

At the next assembly of officers Sima Yan said to them, “I have decided to act. I have received similar advice from Yang Hu and Wang Jun.”

At this arose Minister Wang Hun and said, “I hear Sun Hao intends to march north to the Middle Land and has his army ready. Report says it is formidable and would be hard to defeat. I counsel to await another year till that army has lost its first vigor.”

A command to cease warlike preparations was the result of this counsel. The Ruler of Jin betook himself to his private chamber where he engaged in a game of chess with Secretary Zhang Hua as opponent. While at the game, another memorial arrived. It was from Du Yu. It read:

“Formerly Yang Hu explained his plans confidentially to Your Majesty, but did not lay them before the court. The result has been much debate and conflict of opinion. In every project there are pros and cons, but in this the arguments are mostly in favor. The worst that can happen is failure. Since last autumn the proposed attack has become generally known, and, if we stop now, Sun Hao will be frightened and remove the capital to Wuchang, repair his fortifications in the South Land, and move his threatened people out of danger. Then the southern capital cannot be assaulted, nor is there anything left in the countryside to rob. Hence next year’s attack will also fail.”

Just as the Ruler of Jin finished reading, Zhang Hua pushed aside the board, rose and drew his hands into his sleeves, saying, “Your Majesty’s skill in war is almost divine, your state is prosperous, and the army strong. The Ruler of Wu is a tyrant, his people are miserable, and his country mean. Now you can easily conquer him, and I pray that there be no further hesitation!”

“How could I hesitate after your discourse?” said Sima Yan.

Thereupon he returned to the council chamber and issued his commands. Du Yu was made Commander-in-Chief and, with one hundred thousand troops, was to attack Jiangling; Sima Zhou, Prince of Langye and General Who Guards the East, was to attack Tuzhong; Wang Hun, General Who Conquers the East, to go up against Hengjiang; Wang Rong, General Who Exhibits Prowess, to move against Wuchang; Hu Fen, General Who Pacifies the South, to attack Xiakou. And all divisions, fifty thousand troops each, were under the orders of Du Yu. In addition to the land forces, two large fleets were to operate on the river under Wang Jun, General Who Shows Dragon Courage, and Tang Bin, General Who Possesses Martial Bravery. Marines and lands troops amounted to more than two hundred thousand. A separate force under Yang Ji, General Who Holds the South, was sent away to Xiangyang to coordinate all forces.

The Ruler of Wu was greatly alarmed at the news of such armies and fleets, and he called to him quickly his Prime Minister Zhang Ti, Minister of the Interior He Zhi, and Minister of Works Teng Xun, to consult how to defend his land.

Zhang Ti proposed: “Send Commander of the Flying Chariots Wu Yan to meet the enemy at Jiangling; Commander of the Flying Cavalry Sun Xin to Xiakou; I volunteer to take command of a camp at Niuzhu, together with the General of the Left Army Shen Ying and the General of the Right Army Zhuge Xing, ready to lend help at any point.”

The Ruler of Wu approved his dispositions and felt satisfied that he was safe by land. But in the privacy of his own apartment he felt miserable, for he realized that no preparations had been made against an attack by water under the Jin leader Wang Jun.

Then the favorite eunuch Cen Hun asked the Emperor why he bore a sad countenance, and Sun Hao told him of his dread of the enemy navy.

“The armies of Jin are coming, and I have deployed troops for general defense. Only the water front, by which Wang Jun and his several thousand battleships sail east along the tide, makes me feel so worried.”

“But I have a scheme that will smash all Wang Jun’s ships!” cried Cen Hun.

“What is it?” asked the Ruler of Wu, pleased to hear this.

“Iron is plentiful. Make great chains with heavy links and stretch them across the river at various points. Also forge many massive hammers and arrange them in the stream, so that when the enemy’s ships sail down before the wind, they will collide with the hammers and be wrecked. Then they will sail no more.”

Blacksmiths were soon at work on the river bank welding the links and forging the hammers. Work went on day and night, and soon all the chains were placed in different points.

As has been said Du Yu was to attack Jiangling, and he sent General Zhou Zhi with eight hundred sailors to sail secretly along the Great River to capture Yuexiang. There they were to make an ambush in the Bashan Mountains and a great show of flags along the bank and among the trees. Drums were to be beaten and bombs exploded during the day and many fires lighted at night to give the appearance of a great army.

So Zhou Zhi sailed to the Bashan Mountains.

Next day Du Yu directed the army and the marine forces in a simultaneous advance.

The scouts reported: “The Ruler of Wu has sent the land force under Wu Yan, the navy under Lu Jing, and the vanguard under Sun Xin!”

Du Yu led his forces forward. The vanguard of Wu, under Sun Xin, came up, and at the first encounter Du Yu’s army retired. Sun Xin landed his marines and pursued. But in the midst of the pursuit a signal bomb sounded, and Sun Xin was attacked on all sides by the Jin troops. He tried to retire, but the army he had been pursuing, Du Yu’s force, turned back too and joined in the attack. Wu’s losses were very heavy, and Sun Xin hastened back to the city. But the eight hundred Jin soldiers of Zhou Zhi mingled with the Wu army at the ramparts and so entered the gates. The Jin soldiers raised signal fires on the walls.

This maneuver amazed Sun Xin, and he said, “The northern troops had surely flown across the river into the city!”

Sun Xin made an effort to escape, but the leader of Jin, Zhou Zhi, unexpectedly appeared and slew him.

Admiral Lu Jing of the Wu fleet of that had accompanied Sun Xin saw on the south shore, in the Bashan Mountains, a great standard bearing the name Jin General Who Guards the South Du Yu. Lu Jing became alarmed and landed to try to escape, but the Jin General Zhang Shang soon found and slew him.

At his position at Jiangling, Wu Yan heard of these defeats and knew his position was untenable, so he fled. However, he was soon captured and led into the presence of the victorious general.

“No use sparing you,” said Du Yu, and he sentenced the prisoner to death.

Thus Jiangling was captured and all the counties along the River Xiang and River Yuan as far as Huangzhou, which surrendered at the first summons.

Du Yu sent out officers to soothe the people of the conquered counties, and they suffered nothing from the soldiery. Next he marched toward Wuchang, and that city also yielded. So the glory of Du Yu became very great. He then summoned his officers to a council to decide upon attacking Capital Jianye.

Hu Fen said, “A one-century rebellion will not be reduced completely at once. The time of the spring rise of waters is near, and our position is precarious. We should do well to await the coming spring.”

Du Yu replied, “In the days of old, Yue Yi overcame the powerful state Qi in one battle in Jixi. Our prestige is now high and success certain, easy as the splitting of a bamboo, which seems to welcome the knife after the first few joints have been overcome. We shall meet no great opposition.”

So Du Yu gave orders to the various leaders to move in concert against the capital land of Jianye.

Now the Jin leader Wang Jun had gone down the river with his naval force. From his scouts he heard of the iron chains and the hammers that had been laid in the river to hinder his progress. But he only laughed. He constructed great rafts of timber and placed on them straw effigies of soldiers in armors and sent them down river with the current. The defenders of Wu took them for real troops and, alarmed by their numbers, fled in panic. Then the great hammers and chains were dragged away as the rafts drifted on. Moreover, on the rafts they laid great torches many fathoms long, and very thick, made of straw soaked in linseed oil. When the raft was checked by a chain, the torches were lighted and the chains exposed to the heat till they melted and broke asunder. Thus the rafts went down stream conquering wherever they came.

Then the Prime Minister of Wu, Zhang Ti, sent two leaders, General of the Left Army Shen Ying and General of the Right Army Zhuge Xing, to try to check the advance of the armies.

Shen Ying said to his colleague, “The forces above have failed to stop the enemy, and the enemy will surely come here. We shall have to put forth all our strength. If haply we can succeed, the safety of our South Land is assured. But suppose we fight and lose the battle, then is our country lost.”

“Sir, you only say what is too true,” said Zhuge Xing.

Just as they talked of these matters came reports of the approach of their enemies in irresistible force. The two leaders were seized with panic and went back to see the Prime Minister.

“Our country is lost!” cried Zhuge Xing. “Why not run?”

“We all know that the land is doomed,” replied Zhang Ti. “But if we make no defense, and no one dies for his country, shall we not be shamed?”

Zhuge Xing left, weeping; and Zhang Ti went with Shen Ying to the army. The invaders soon arrived, and the Jin General Zhou Zhi was the first to break into the camp. Zhang Ti resisted stubbornly, but was soon slain in a melee, and Shen Ying was killed by Zhou Zhi. The army of Wu was defeated and scattered.

Jin’s army banners waved on Bashan Mountains
And trusty Zhang Ti in Jiangling fighting died;
He accepted not that the kingly grace was spent,
He rather chose to die than shame his side.

The armies of Jin conquered at Niuzhu and penetrated deeply into the country of Wu. From his camp Wang Jun sent a report of his victory to Luoyang, and Sima Yan was pleased.

But Jia Chong again opposed further fighting, saying, “The armies have been long absent, and the soldiers will suffer from the unhealthiness of the southern country. It would be well to call them home.”

Zhang Hua spoke against this course, saying, “The Jin army has reached the very home and center of the enemy. Soon Wu courage will fail, and the Ruler of Wu himself will be our prisoner. To recall the army now would be to waste the efforts already made.”

The Ruler of Jin inclined to neither side.

Jia Chong turned upon Zhang Hua savagely, saying, “You are wholly ignorant and understand nothing. You are bent upon winning some sort of glory at the expense of our soldiers’ lives. Death would be too good for you!”

“Why wrangle?” said Sima Yan. “Zhang Hua agrees with me, and he knows my wishes.”

Just at this moment came a memorial from the leader Du Yu also recommending advance, whereupon the Ruler of Jin decided that the army should go on.

The royal mandate duly reached the camp of Wang Jun, and the Jin navy went out to the attack in great pomp. The soldiers of Wu made no defense, but surrendered at once.

When Sun Hao, the Ruler of Wu, heard his armies had surrendered thus, he turned pale, and his courtiers said, “What is to be done? Here the northern army comes nearer every day and our troops just give in.”

“But why do they not fight?” said Sun Hao.

The courtiers replied, “The one evil of today is Eunuch Cen Hun. Slay him, and we ourselves will go out and fight to the death!”

“How can a eunuch harm a state?” cried Sun Hao.

“Have we not seen what Huang Hao did in Shu?” shouted the courtiers in chorus.

Moved by sudden fury, the courtiers rushed into the Palace, found the wretched object of their hate and slew him, and even feeding on his palpitating flesh.

Then Tao Jun said, “All my ships are small, but give me large vessels and I will place thereon twenty thousand marines and go forth to fight. I can defeat the enemy.”

His request was granted, and the royal guards were sent up the river to join battle, while another naval force went down stream, led by Leader of the Van Zhang Xiang. But a heavy gale came on. The flags were blown down and lay over in the ships, and the marines would not embark. They scattered leaving their leader with only a few score men.

Wang Jun, the leader of Jin, set sail and went down the river.

After passing Three Mountains, the sailing master of his ship said, “The gale is too strong for the fleet to go on. Let us anchor till the storm has moderated.”

But Wang Jun would not listen. Drawing his sword, he said, “I wish to capture Capital Shidou, and will not hear of anchoring.”

So he compelled the sailing master to continue. On the way Zhang Xiang, one of the leaders of Wu, came to offer surrender.

“If you are in earnest, you will lead the way and help me,” said Wang Jun.

Zhang Xiang consented, returned to his own ship, and led the squadron. When he reached the walls of Shidou, he called to the defenders to open the gates and allow the Jin army to enter. The gates were opened.

When the Ruler of Wu heard that his enemies had actually entered the capital city, he wished to put an end to his life, but his officers prevented this.

Secretary Hu Zong and Palace Officer Xue Rong said, “Your Majesty, why not imitate the conduct of Liu Shan of Shu, now Duke of Anle?”

So Sun Hao no longer thought of death, but went to offer submission. He bound himself and took a coffin with him. His officers followed him. He was graciously received, and the Jin General Wang Jun himself loosened the bonds, and the coffin was burned. The vanquished Ruler was treated with the ceremony due to a prince.

A poet of the Tang Dynasty wrote a few lines on this surrender:

Adown the stream ride storied warships tall;
With massive chains some seek to stop their way.
But Jiangling’s independence fades away,
And soon “We yield” is signaled from the wall.
Full oft I think of bygone days and sigh,
Along the stream, unmoved, the old hills rest,
While I am homeless on the earth’s broad breast,
Where grim old forts stand gray beneath the sky.

Therefore Wu was subdued and ceased to exist as a state. Its 4 regions, 43 counties, 313 districts, 5,230,000 families, 62,000 civil officers, 230,000 soldiers and military officers, 23,000,000 inhabitants, its stores of grain and over five thousand large ships, all fell booty to the victorious Jin Dynasty. In the women’s quarters of the Palace were found more than five thousand persons.

Proclamations were issued; treasuries and storehouses were sealed. Tao Jun’s navy soon melted away without striking a blow. Wang Jun was greatly elated at his success. Sima Zhou, Prince of Langye, and General Wang Rong also arrived and congratulated each other.

When Du Yu, the Commander-in-Chief, arrived, there were great feastings and rewards for the soldiers. The granaries were opened and doles of grain issued to the people, so that they also were glad of peace.

Only one city stood out—Jianping, under Governor Wu Yan. However, he too surrendered when he heard the capital had fallen.

The tidings of all these successes reached Capital Luoyang just at the celebration of the birthday of the Ruler of Jin, and the rejoicings and congratulations were redoubled. At one of the banquets the Ruler of Jin did honor to the memory of the late Yang Hu.

Raising his wine cup, and in a voice broken by emotion, he said, “Today’s success is the merit of the Imperial Guardian. I regret that he is not here to share our rejoicings.”

In Wu, Sun Xiu, General of the Flying Cavalry, went away from the court and wailed, facing the south.

“Alas, ye blue heavens! What manner of man is this Sun Hao to yield thus the heritage of his family, won by the sword of General Sun Jian the Martially Glorious in the brave days that are past?”

Meantime the victors marched homeward, and Sun Hao went to Luoyang to present himself at court. In his capacity of minister, he prostrated himself at the feet of the Emperor of the Jin Dynasty in the Hall of Audience. He was allowed a seat.

“I set that seat for you long since,” said the Ruler of Jin.

“Thy servant also set a seat for Your Majesty in the south,” retorted Sun Hao.

The Ruler of Jin laughed loudly.

Then Jia Chong turned to Sun Hao and said, “I hear, Sir, that when you were in the south, they gouged out people’s eyes and flayed their faces. What crimes were so punished?”

“Murders of princes and malicious speech and disloyal conduct were so punished!”

Jia Chong was silenced, for he was ashamed.

Sun Hao was created Lord of Guiming. His sons and grandsons received minor ranks and other grades were conferred upon his ministers who had followed him in his surrender. The sons and grandsons of the late Prime Minister of Wu, Zhang Ti, who had perished in battle, were given ranks. The victorious leader, Wang Jun, was rewarded with the title General Who Upholds the State. And many other ranks were conferred to the Jin officers.

The three states now became one empire under the rule of Sima Yan of the Jin Dynasty. That is the world under heaven, after a long period of union, tends to divide; after a long period of division, tends to unite.

Liu Shan, the Emperor of Shu-Han, passed away in the seventh year of Great Beginning, in Jin calendar (AD 271). Cao Huan, the Emperor of Wei, passed away in the first year of Magnificent Peace (AD 302). And Sun Hao, the Emperor of Wu, passed away in the fourth year of Prosperous Peace (AD 283). All three died of natural causes.

A poet has summed up the history of these stirring years in a poem:

It was the dawning of a glorious day
When first the Founder of the House of Han
Xianyang’s proud Palace entered. Noontide came
When Emperor Guangwu [Liu Xiu] the imperial rule restored.
Alas, that Liu Xian succeeded in full time
And saw the setting of the sun of power!
He Jin, the feeble, fell beneath the blows
Of Palace minions. Dong Zhuo, vile though bold,
Then ruled the court. The plot Wang Yun
To oust him, failed, recoiled on his own head.
The Li Jue and Guo Si lit up the flame of war
And brigands swarmed like ants through all the land.
Then rose the valiant and deployed their might.
Sun Ce carved out a kingdom in the southeast,
North of Yellow River the Yuans strove to make their own.
Liu Zhang went west and seized on Ba and Shu,
Liu Biao laid hold on Jingzhou and Chu,
Zhang Lu, in turn held Hanzhong by force.
Ma Teng and Han Sui kept Xiliang.
Tao Qian and Gongsun Zan built up quarters,
Zhang Xiu and Lü Bu challenged the bold.
But overtopping all Cao Cao the strong
Became first minister, and to his side,
Drew many able people. He swayed the court,
Without, he held the nobles in his hand;
By force of arms he held the capital
Against all rivals. Of imperial stock
Was born Liu Bei, who with sworn brothers twain
Made oath the dynasty should be restored.
These wandered homeless east and west for years,
A petty force. But Destiny was kind
And led Liu Bei to Nanyang’s rustic cot,
Where lay Zhuge Liang, he who
Already that the empire must be rent.
Twice Liu Bei essayed in vain to see the sage
Once more he went? And then his fortune turned.
Jingzhou fell to him, followed the River Lands,
A fitting base to build an empire on.
Alas! He ruled there only three short years,
Then left his only son to Zhuge Liang’s care.
Full nobly Zhuge Liang played protector’s part,
Unceasing strove to win first place for Shu;
But Fate forbade; one night for aye his star
Went down behind the rampart of the hills.
Jiang Wei the strong inherited his task
And struggled on for years.
But Zhong Hui and Deng Ai
Attacked the Hans’ last stronghold, and it fell.
Five sons of Cao Cao sat on the dragon throne,
And Sima Yan snatched the court from Cao Huan.
Before him bowed the kings of Shu and Wu,
Content to forfeit kingly power for life.
All down the ages rings the note of change,
For fate so rules it; none escapes its sway.
The three kingdoms have vanished as a dream,
The useless misery is ours to grieve.

THE END