Dong Zhuo angrily drew his sword to slay
the bold Lu Zhi, but two other officials remonstrated.
“Minister Lu Zhi is the cynosure of the whole country,
the bold Lu Zhi, but two other officials remonstrated.
“Minister Lu Zhi is the cynosure of the whole country,
and his violent death would stir the hearts of all people！”
said Court Counselors Cai Yong and Peng Bo.
Dong Zhuo then stayed his hand.
then said Wang Yun, “A GREat question like the
deposition and substitution of emperors is not
one to be decided after a wine party.
Let it be put off till another time.”
So the guests dispersed. Dong Zhuo stood at the gate
with drawn sword watching them depart. Standing thus,
Dong Zhuo noticed a spearman galloping to and fro on
a fiery steed and asked Li Ru who that was.
“That is Lu Bu, the adopted son of Ding Yuan.
You must keep out of his way, my lord.”
Dong Zhuo went inside the gate so that he
could not be seen. But next day they reported
to him that Ding Yuan had come out of the city
with a small army and was challenging to a battle.
Dong Zhuo, with his army, went forth to accept
the challenge. And the two armies were drawn up in proper array.
Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in the forefront.
His hair was arranged under a handsome headdress
of gold, and he had donned a embroidered
thousand-flower fighting robe, a pheasant-tailed helmet,
and breast plate, and round his waist was a gleaming jade
belt with a lion’s head clasp.
With spear set he rode close behind his master Ding Yuan.
Ding Yuan, riding forth, pointing his finger at Dong Zhuo,
began to revile him.
“Unhappy indeed was this state when the eunuchs
“God is helping us,” said Prince Xian.
they followed whither the fireflies led and gradually
got into a road. They walked till their feet were too sore
to go further, when, seeing a heap of straw near the road,
they crept to it and lay down.
This heap of straw was close to a farm house.
In the night, as the farmer was sleeping, he saw in a
vision two bright red suns drop behind his dwelling.
Alarmed by the portent, he hastily dressed and went forth
to look about him. Then he saw a bright light
shooting up from a heap of straw.
He hastened thither and then saw two youths lying behind it.
“To what household do you belong,
young gentlemen？” asked the farmer.
the Emperor was too frightened to reply,
but his companion said, “He is the Emperor.
There was a revolution in the Forbidden City,
and we ran away. I am his brother, Prince of Chenliu.”
the farmer bowed again and again and said,
“My name is Sui Lie. My brother Sui Yi is the former
Minister of the Interior. My brother was
disgusted with the behavior of the eunuchs
and so resigned and hid away here.”
the two lads were taken into the farm,
and their host on his knees served them with refreshment.
It has been said that Min Gong had gone in
pursuit of Eunuch Duan Gui. By and by Min
Gong overtook Duan Gui and cried,
“Where is the Emperor？”
“He disappeared！ I do not know where he is！”
Min Gong slew Duan Gui and hung the
bleeding head on his horse’s neck. Then
he sent his troops searching in all directions,
and he rode off by himself on the same quest.
Presently he came to the farm. Sui Lie,
seeing what hung on his horse’s neck,
He Jin was panic stricken
and looked about for a way to escape,
but all gates had been shut. the eunuchs closed him in,
and then the assassins appeared and cut He Jin into halves.
[hip, hip, hip] Closing the days of the Hans, and the years
of their rule were near spent, Stupid and tactless was He Jin,
yet stood he highest in office, Many were they who advised him,
but he was deaf as he heard not, Wherefore fell he
a victim under the swords of the eunuchs. [yip, yip, yip]
So He Jin died. Yuan Shao and Cao Cao waited long.
By and by, impatient at the delay,
they called through the gate, “Thy carriage awaits, O General！”
For reply the head of He Jin was flung over the wall.
A decree was proclaimed：
“He Jin has contemplated treachery and therefore
has been slain！ It pardons his adherents.”
Yuan Shao shouted, “the eunuchs have slain the
High Minister. Let those who will slay
this wicked party come and help me！”
then one of He Jin’s generals, Wu Kuang,
set fire to the gate. Yuan Shu at the head of his
guards burst in and fell to slaying the eunuchs
without regard to age or rank. Yuan Shao and
Cao Cao broke into the inner part of the Palace.
Four of the eunuchs——Zhao Zhong, Cheng Kuang,
Xia Yun, and Guo Sheng——fled to the Blue Flower
Lodge where they were hacked to pieces.
Fire raged, destroying the buildings.
Four of the Ten Regular Attendants——Zhang Rang,
Duan Gui, Cao Jie, and Hou Lan——led by Zhang Rang
carried off the Empress, Emperor Bian,
and Prince Xian of Chenliu toward the North Palace.
Lu Zhi, since he had resigned office,
was at home, but hearing of the revolution
in the Palace he donned his armor,
took his spear, and prepared to fight.
He saw Eunuch Duan Gui hurrying
the Empress along and called out,
“You rebel, how dare you abduct the Empress？”
the eunuch fled. The Empress leaped
out of a window and
was taken to a place of safety.
General Wu Kuang burst into one of the
inner halls where he found He Miao, sword in hand.
“You also were in the plot to slay your own
brother,” cried Wu Kuang.
“Go to the General and confess your faults,
” said the Empress.
“If we did, then should we be cut to mincemeat！
Rather summon the General into your presence
and command him to cease. If he will not,
then we pray but die in your presence.”
Empress He issued the requisite command.
He Jin was just going to her when Secretary Chen Lin
advised him not to enter, saying,
“the eunuchs are certainly behind the order
and mean your harm.”
But He Jin could only see the command
of the Empress and was oblivious to all else.
Said he, “Clearly, this is an edict from the Empress. What harm？”
“Our plot is no longer a secret,” said Yuan Shao.
“Still you may go if you are ready to fight your way in.”
“Get the eunuchs out first！” said Cao Cao.
“Silly children！” said He Jin.
“What can they do against the man who
holds the forces of the empire in his palm？”
Yuan Shao said, “If you will go, then we
will come as a guard, just as a precaution.”
Whereupon both Yuan Shao and Cao Cao
chose five hundred best men under their command,
at whose head they placed Yuan Shu, a brother of Yuan Shao.
Yuan Shu, clad in mail, drew up his troops outside the
Forbidden City’s entrance, while Yuan Shao and Cao Cao,
holding swords, went as escort.
When He Jin neared the Palace of Happiness,
the officers from the Inner Bureau said,
“The orders are to admit the Regent Marshal and none other.”
So the escort was detained outside. He Jin went in proudly.
At the Gate of Grand Virtue, he was met by Zhang Rang and
Duan Gui, and their followers quickly closed in around him.
He Jin began to feel alarmed.
then Zhang Rang in a harsh voice began to revile him：
“What crime had Empress Dong committed that she should have
been put to death？ And when the Mother of the Country was buried,
who feigned sickness and did not attend？ We raised you and your paltry,
So Dong Zhuo composed something like this：
“Thy servant knows that the continual
rebellions owe their origin to Zhang Rang and
the Regular Attendants of the Inner Bureau,
who act counter to all recognized precepts.
Now to stop the ebullition of a pot the best way is to
withdraw the fire； to cut out an abscess, though painful,
is better than to nourish the evil. I have dared undertake a
military advance on the capital, with thy
permission, and now pray that Zhang Rang and the
other eunuchs be removed for the happiness of the dynasty and of the empire.”
He Jin read this memorial and showed it to his partisans.
then said Minister Zheng Tai, “A fierce wild beast：
If he comes, his prey will be humans！”
He Jin replied, “You are too timorous：
You are unequal to GREat schemes.”
But Lu Zhi also said, “Long have I known this man.
In appearance innocent, he is a very wolf at heart. Let him in,
and calamity enters with him. Stop him, do not let him come,
and thus will you avoid upheaval.”
He Jin was obstinate, and both Zheng Tai and Lu Zhi gave up
their posts and retired, as did more than half the ministers of state,
while He Jin sent a warm welcome to Dong Zhuo,
who soon camped at Shengchi Lake and stationed there without further action.
Zhang Rang and the eunuchs knew this
move was directed against them and said,
“This is He Jin’s plot. If we do not strike first,
our whole clans shall be exterminated.”
So they hid a band of fifty armed ruffians
at the Gate of Grand Virtue in the Palace of
Happiness, where the Empress lived, then they went in to see her.
Corrupted by these, He Miao
Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with his sister Empress He and said,
“The General is the chief support of the new Emperor, yet he is no
t gracious and merciful but thinks wholly of slaughter.
If he slays the eunuchs without cause, it may bring about revolution.”
Soon after He Jin entered and told her of his design to put the eunuchs to death.
She argued with him, “Those officials look after palace
affairs and are old servants. To kill the old servants just after the
death of their master would appear disrespectful to the dynasty’s ancestral temple.”
And as He Jin was of a vacillating mind, he murmured assent and left her.
“What about it?” said Yuan Shao on meeting him.
“She will not consent. What can be done?”
“Call up an army and slay them. It is imperative. Never mind her consent!”
“That is an excellent plan,” said He Jin. And he sent orders all round to march soldiers to the capital.
But Secretary Chen Lin objected, “Nay! Do not act without due consideration.
The proverb says ‘To cover the eyes and snatch at swallows is to fool oneself.’
If in so small a matter you cannot attain your wish, what of great affairs?
Now by virtue of the emperor and with the army under your hand, you are
like prancing tiger and soaring dragon: You may do as you please. To use such
enormous powers against the eunuchs would bring victory as easily as lighting up
a furnace to burn a hair. Only act promptly: Use your powers and smite at once,
and all the empire will be with you. But to summon forces to the capital,
to gather many bold warriors into one spot, each with different schemes,
is to turn our weapons against our own person,
Nothing but failure can come of it, and havoc will ensue.”
The eunuchs persuaded the ladies to retire.
But in the night Empress He summoned her
brother into the Palace and told him what had occurred.
He went out and took counsel with the principal officers of state.
Next morning a court was held and a memorial was presented, saying:
“Empress Dong, being the foster mother of Liu Xian,
Prince of Chenliu, a regional prince—only a collateral—cannot properly
occupy any part of the Palace. She is to be removed into her
riginal fief of Hejian and is to depart immediately.”
And while they sent an escort to remove Empress Dong,
a strong guard was placed about the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong’s
dwelling. They took away his seal of office and he, knowing this
was the end, killed himself in his private apartments. His dependents,
who wailed his death, were driven off by the guards.
The eunuchs Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, having lost their patroness,
sent large gifts to He Jin’s younger brother, He Miao, and his mother,
Lady Wuyang, and thus got them to put in a good word to
Empress He so as to gain her protection.
And so they gained favor once more at court.
In the sixth month of that year, the secret emissaries of He Jin
poisoned Empress Dong in her residence in the country.
Her remains were brought to the capital and buried in Wen Tombs*.
He Jin feigned illness and did not attend the funeral.
Commander Yuan Shao went one day to see He Jin, saying, “
The two eunuchs, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, are spreading the
report outside that you has caused the death of the late empress and
is aiming at the throne. This is an excuse for you to destroy them.
Do not spare them this time, or you will pay like Dou Wu and Chen Fan,
who in the previous reign missed their chance because the secret had not
been kept, and they paid by their own deaths. Now you and
your brother have many commanders and officers behind,
so that the destruction of the eunuchs can be but an ease.
It is a heaven-sent opportunity. Delay no further!”
At this assembly a man spoke
against the plot,
“The influence of the eunuchs dates back a century and a
half, during the reigns of Emperors Chong and Zhi.
It has spread like a noxious weed in all directions.
How can we hope to destroy it? Above all keep
this plot secret, or our whole clans will be exterminated.”
He Jin eyed down and saw General of Military Standards Cao Cao.
He Jin was very angry at this speech and cried,
“What do inferiors like you know of the ways of government?”
And in the midst of the confusion Pan Yin came to say:
“The Emperor is no more. The eunuchs have decided to keep
the death a secret and forge a command to the Regent Marshal to
come into the Palace to settle the succession. Meanwhile
to prevent trouble they have inscribed the name of Prince Xian on the roll.”
And as Pan Yin finished speaking, the edict arrived summoning He Jin.
“The matter for the moment is to set up the rightful heir,
” said Cao Cao. “We can deal with the traitors later.”
“Who dare to join me in supporting the rightful heir—Prince Bian?”
asked He Jin, the Regent Marshal.
At once one stood forward, crying, “Give me five thousand veterans,
and we will break into the Palace, set up the true heir, slay the eunuchs,
and sweep clean the government! Then peace will come to the empire.”
The energetic speaker was Yuan Shao, son of the former Minister of
the Interior Yuan Feng and nephew of Imperial Guardian Yuan Wei.
Yuan Shao then held the rank of Imperial Commander.
He Jin mustered five thousand royal guards. Yuan Shao put on
complete armor and took command. He Jin, supported by He Yong,
Xun You, Zheng Tai, and more than thirty other ministers and
high-rank officials, went into the Palace. In the hall where lay the coffin
of the late Emperor, they placed Liu Bian on the throne. After
the ceremony was over and all had bowed before the new Emperor,
Yuan Shao went in to arrest Eunuch Jian Shuo. Jian Shuo in terror
fled into the Palace garden and hid among the shrubs, where he was
discovered and murdered by Guo Sheng, one of the Ten Eunuchs.
The guards under Jian Shuo’s command all surrendered.
Yuan Shao said, “Their gangs have broken.
The most opportune moment is now to slay all the eunuchs!”
But Zhang Rang and the eunuchs of the Ten scented the
danger and rushed to see Empress He.
They said, “The originator of the plan to injure your brother
was Jian Shuo: Only he was concerned and no other.
Now the Regent Marshal, on Yuan Shao’s advice,
wishes to slay everyone of us. We implore your pity, O Your Majesty!”
“Fear not!” said Empress He,
whose son had just become Emperor, “I will protect you.”
She sent for her brother, and said, “You and I are of lowly origin,
and we owe our good fortune to the eunuchs.
The misguided Jian Shuo is now dead, and need you really
Yuyang being now tranquil,
Liu Bei’s services were reported to
the Throne, and he received full pardon for the insult to the imperial
inspector. He was made Deputy Magistrate of Xiami, then Commanding
Officer of Gaotang. Then Gongsun Zan praised Liu Bei’s former services,
and he was promoted to Magistrate of Pingyuan. This place was very prosperous,
and Liu Bei recovered something of his old manner before the days of adversity.
Liu Yu also received preferment and was promoted to Grand Commander.
In the summer of the six year of Central Stability (AD 189),
Emperor Ling became seriously ill and summoned He Jin into the Palace
to arrange for the future. He Jin had sprung from a humble family of
butchers, but his sister had become a concubine of rank and borne a son to
the Emperor, named Liu Bian. After this she became Empress He,
and He Jin became the powerful Regent Marshal*.
The Emperor had also greatly loved a beautiful girl, Lady Wang,
who had borne him a son named Liu Xian. Empress He had poisoned
Lady Wang from jealousy, and the baby had been given into the care
of Empress Dong, who was the mother of Emperor Ling. Lady Dong
was the wife of Liu Chang, Lord of Jiedu. As time went on and the
Emperor Huan had no son of his own, he adopted the son of Liu Chang,
who succeeded as the Emperor Ling. After his accession, Emperor Ling had
taken his own mother into the Palace to live and had
conferred upon her the title of Empress Dowager.
Empress Dong had always tried to persuade her son to name Liu Xian as the
Heir Apparent, and in fact the Emperor greatly loved the boy and was
disposed to do as his mother desired. When his end was near, one of the eunuchs,
Jian Shuo, said, “If Liu Xian is to succeed, He Jin must be killed to prevent countermoves.”
The Emperor saw this too. He placed Jian Shuo in command of
the eight armies of the West Garden in order to check Liu Bian’s
supporters. And he summoned He Jin to come to him.
But at the very gate of the Forbidden City, He Jin was warned of his
Zhu Jun saw that the advice was good
and followed it. As predicted the rebels ran out,
led by Han Zhong. The besiegers fell upon them as they fled, and Han Zhong was slain.
The rebels scattered in all directions. But the other two rebel chieftains, Zhao Hong and
Sun Zhong, came with large reinforcements, and as they appeared very strong, the imperial
soldiers retired, and the new body of rebels reentered Wancheng.
Zhu Jun encamped three miles from the city and prepared to attack. Just then there arrived a
body of horse and foot from the east. At the lead was one general with a broad open face, a body
as an alert tiger’s, and a torso as a lofty bear’s. His name was Sun Jian. He was a native
of Fuchun in the old state of Wu, a descendant of the famous Sun Zi the Strategist*.
When he was seventeen, Sun Jian was with his father on the River Qiantang and saw a party of
pirates, who had been plundering a merchant, dividing their booty on the river bank.
“We can capture these!” said he to his father.
So, gripping his sword, he ran boldly up the bank and cried out to this side and that
as if he was calling his men to come on. This made the pirates believe the soldiers
were on them and they fled, leaving their booty behind them. He actually killed
one of the pirates. In this way be became known and was recommended for office.
Then, in collaboration with the local officials, he raised a band of one thousand and
helped to quell the rebellion of one Xu Chang, who called himself the Sun Emperor
and had ten thousand supporters. The rebel’s son Xu Hao was also slain with his father.
For this Sun Jian was commended by Imperial Protector Zang Min in a memorial to the
Throne, and he received further promotion to the post of
magistrate of Yandu, then of Xuyi, and then of Xiapi.
When the Yellow Scarves rebellion began, Sun Jian gathered together the youths of his
village, some of the merchant class, got a troop of one thousand five hundred of
veteran soldiers and took the field. Now he had reached the fighting area.
Zhu Jun welcomed Sun Jian gladly and ordered him to attack the south gate of Wancheng.
The north and the west gates were simultaneously attacked by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun, but the
east gate was left free to give the rebels a chance of exit. Sun Jian was the first to mount the
wall and cut down more than twenty rebels with his own sword. The rebels ran,
but the leader Zhao Hong rode directly at Sun Jian with his spear ready to thrust. Sun Jian
leaped down from the wall, snatched away the spear and with it knocked Zhao Hong from
The rebels fled north. Meeting Liu Bei, they declined to fight and scattered.
But Liu Bei drew his bow, fitted an arrow, and shot their leader Sun Zhong, who fell to
the ground. The main army of Zhu Jun came up, and after tremendous slaughter,
the rebels surrendered. Thus was peace brought to the ten counties about the Nanyang area.