Yuan Shu bade his soldiers scatter and seek out all

Yuan Shu bade his soldiers scatter and seek out all

the families of the eunuchs, sparing none.

In that slaughter many beardless men were killed in error.

Cao Cao set himself to extinguish the fires.

He then begged Empress He to undertake the

direction of affairs, and soldiers were sent to

pursue Zhang Rang and rescue the young

Emperor and the young Prince of Chenliu.

Meanwhile, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui had

hustled away the Emperor and the Prince.

They burst through the smoke and fire and traveled

without stopping till they reached the Beimang Hills.

It was then the third watch. They heard a

GREat shouting behind them and saw soldiers in

pursuit. Their leader, Min Gong, a commander in

Henan, was shouting, “Traitors, stop, stop!”

Zhang Rang, seeing that he was lost,

jumped into the river, where he was drowned.

the two boys ignorant of the meaning of all

this confusion and terrified out of their senses,

dared not utter a cry. They crept in among the rank

grass on the river bank and hid.

The soldiers scattered in all directions but f

ailed to find them. So they remained till the

fourth watch, shivering with cold from the

drenching dew and very hungry.

They lay down in the thick grass and

wept in each other’s arms, silently,

lest anyone should discover them.

“This is no a place to stay in,”

said Prince Xian. “We must find some way out.”

So the two children knotted their clothes

together and managed to crawl up the bank.

They were in a thicket of thorn bushes, and it was

quite dark. They could not see any path. They were

in despair when, all at once, millions

of fireflies sprang up all about them and circled

in the air in front of the Emperor.

“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

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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.

He Jin was panic stricken and looked about for a way to escape

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.

“You shall die with the others!”

“Let us kill the plotter against

his elder brother!” cried many.

He Miao looked around: His enemies

hemmed him in on every side. He was hacked to pieces.

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“Go to the General and confess your faults,

“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,

huckstering family to all the dignity and wealth

you have, and this is your gratitude!

You would slay us. You call us sordid and dirty:

Who is the cleaner?”

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So Dong Zhuo composed something like this:

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.

they said, “The General, feigning to act

under command, has called up armies to the

capital to destroy us. We pray you, Your Majesty, pity and save us!”

“Go to the General and confess your faults,” said the Empress.

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the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and

What Cao Cao said was this:

“the eunuch evil is of very old standing,

but the real cause of the present trouble is in

the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and

the misplaced favoritism they have enjoyed. But a gaoler would

be ample force to employ against this kind of evil, and getting rid of

the main culprits is quite enough. Why increase confusion

by summoning troops from the regions?

Any desire to slay all of them will speedily become known, and the plan will fail.”

“then, Cao Cao, you have some scheme of your own to further,” said He Jin with a sneer.

Cao Cao left the meeting, proclaiming, “The one who throws the world into chaos is He Jin!”

then He Jin sent swift, secret letters far and wide to several bases.

It must be recalled that Dong Zhuo had failed in his attempt to

destroy the Yellow Scarves rebellion. He would have been punished

if he had not bribed the Ten Eunuchs heavily for their protection.

Later, through connections in the capital, he obtained rapid promotions

from General to General of the Front Army, to Lord of Aoxiang, to Imperial

Protector in the western region of Xizhou and Commander of

an army of two hundred thousand troops. But Dong Zhuo

was treacherous and disloyal at heart. So when he received the

summons to the capital, he rejoiced GREatly and lost no

time in obeying it. He left a son-in-law, Commander Niu Fu,

to look after the affairs of Xizhou and set out for Luoyang.

Dong Zhuo took with him a huge army and four

generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, and Fan Chou.

Dong Zhuo’s adviser and son-in-law, Li Ru, said,

“Though a formal summons has come,

there are many obscurities in it.

It would be well to send up a memorial stating plainly

our aims and intentions. Then we can proceed.

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Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with

Corrupted by these, He Miao

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,

to place ourselves in the power of another.

Nothing but failure can come of it, and havoc will ensue.”

“The view of a mere book-worm,” said He Jin with a smile.

Then one of those about He Jin suddenly clapped his hands,

Continue reading “Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with”

The eunuchs persuaded the ladies to retire.

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!”

But He Jin replied, “Let me think it over.”

He Jin’s servants overheard the discussion and secretly

informed the intended victims,

who sent further gifts to the younger brother 

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“Slay them, root and branch,

“Slay them, root and branch,

” cried Yuan Shao, “or they will ruin you!”

“I have decided,” said He Jin, coldly. “Say no more.”

Within a few days He Jin became Chair of the Secretariat,

and his associates received high offices.

Now Empress Dong summoned the eunuch

Zhang Rang and his party to a council.

Said she, “It was I who first brought forward the sister of He Jin.

Today her son is on the throne, and all the officials are her friends,

and her influence is enormous. What can we do?”

Zhang Rang replied, “Your Highness should administer the state from

‘behind the veil’; create the late Emperor’s son Liu Xian a prince; give your brother,

the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong, a high rank,

and place him over the army; and use us. That will do it.”

Empress Dong approved. Next day she held a court and issued an edict in the sense

proposed. She made Liu Xian Prince of Chenliu and Dong Chong

General of the Flying Cavalry*, and she allowed the eunuchs again to participate state affairs.

When Empress He saw this, she prepared a banquet to

which she invited her rival Empress Dong.

In the middle of the feast, when all were well warmed with wine,

Empress He rose and offered a cup to her guest, saying,

“It is not fitting that we two should meddle in state affairs. In the beginning of the Han Dynasty,

when Empress Lu laid hands upon the government, all her clans were put to death*.

We ought to remain content, immured in our palaces,

and leave state affairs to the state officials.

That would be well for the country, and I trust you will act thus.”

But Empress Dong only got angry, saying,

“You poisoned Lady Wang out of jealousy. Now,

relying upon the fact that your son sits on the throne and that

your brother is powerful, you speak these wild words.

I will command that your brother be beheaded,

and that can be done as easily as I turn my hand!”

Empress He in her turn became wroth and said,

“I tried to persuade you with fair words. Why get so angry?”

“You low born daughter of a butcher,

what do you know of offices?” cried Empress Dong.

And the quarrel waxed hot.

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At this assembly a man spoke

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

put all the others to death as Yuan Shao advises?”

And He Jin obeyed her wish. He explained to his party, saying,

“The real offender, Jian Shuo, has met his fate, and his clan will be

punished. But we need not exterminate the whole party nor injure his colleagues.”

Yuyang being now tranquil,

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

danger by Commander Pan Yin who said,

“This must be a trap of Jian Shuo to destroy you!”

He Jin rushed back to his quarters and called many of the

ministers to his side, and they met to

consider how to put the eunuchs to death.