The Follow-up Letter to the Prime Minister Twenty-nine Days After the Second Letter

Harn, Yuh   (768A.D.-824A.D.)

Honorable Prime Minister,

    I have heard that while Duke Chow was Emperor Ch'eng's Prince Regent, he was so anxious to see talented people that he would repeatedly interrupt his meal and spit out food to meet them. During one bath, he had to come out three times holding his long wet hair in order to welcome talented people. At that time, all talented people were offered jobs. All the bullies, the slanderers, and the other evil people were fired. China had no worry and no trouble. All neighboring countries sent presents to our emperor and were willing to be our allies. Natural disasters, plagues, and problems with insects and plants had all disappeared. An education system, the law of justice, and an entertainment industry were fully developed. Local people all over China practiced kindness and honesty. Any living being that was nourished by wind, rain, frost or dew grew fully. All auspicious signs like unicorns, phoenixes, turtles, and dragons appeared. Duke Chow, the uncle of Emperor Ch'eng, had outstanding talent. His contributions in governing and educating people were magnificent. Could the people seeking a job from Duke Chow be more talented than Chow? No. These applicants were not only less talented than Chow, but also less talented than any official that had already been hired. It seemed impossible that these applicants had any new ideas that could benefit Chow's government. Then why was Duke Chow so anxious to seek talented people? This was because he was worried there was something about state affairs that he might not see, hear or consider. He feared that this neglect might make him fail to live up to Emperor Ch'eng's expectations and fail to win the heart of people in China. Consider what Duke Chow must have been thinking. It is likely that he thought that if his contributions in governing and educating people had not been so magnificent, and if he had not had any outstanding talent and such a close relationship to the emperor, then he would not have had any time to eat or bathe. In that case, his diligence would have gone beyond spitting out food or holding his wet hair. Because Duke Chow was so anxious to improve his government, the praise for Emperor Ch'eng's virtue and Duke Chow's contributions has never declined.

    Now you are the Prime Minister, in a ruling position similar to Chow’s position as Prince Regent. Have all talented people in China been offered jobs? Have bullies, slanderers and other evil people been terminated from government positions? Has our country had no worries? Do all the neighboring countries wish to honor us and become our allies? Have natural disasters, plagues, and problems with insects and plants disappeared? Have facilities for education, justice, and entertainment been perfectly established? Are people everywhere practicing kindness and honesty? Have all the living beings that are nourished by wind, rain, frost, and dew grown properly? Have all the auspicious signs like unicorns, phoenixes, turtles, and dragons appeared? Are all the applicants, though not as virtuous as you, less talented than the officials that have already been hired? There must be someone whose proposal could benefit the government. If you cannot act like Duke Chow, spitting out food and holding his hair to anxiously seek talented people, at least you should interview them to see if they are qualified and then decide if you want to hire them. You should not simply remain silent.

    I have waited for your reply for more than forty days. I have already written you two letters, but it seems that my application has not been approved. I went to your office three times, but the security guard would not allow me to enter. I have a dilemma. I dare not leave the capital before hearing from you. Thus, I am including the story of Duke Chow in this letter. Hopefully, you will give me a chance for a fair evaluation.

    In ancient times, if scholars had not acquired a job in three months, they would console each other. During that era, China was divided into many countries. If a scholar failed to acquire a position in one country, he could bring gifts to a king of another country to apply for a job there. At that time a scholar could apply for a job with pride and confidence, because he knew that if the Country Chow did not hire him, he could leave for Country Lu. If Country Lu did not hire him, he could leave for Country Chyi. If Country Chyi did not hire him, he could go to Country Sung, Country Cheng, Country Ch’in or Country Ch’u. Now China is united. There is only one emperor in China. If I were to leave China, I would have to abandon my homeland and go to an uncivilized country. Consequently, those who have the ambition to realize their political dreams now have no choice but to go to the woods and become a hermit if their talents cannot be utilized by the government. Those who care only about themselves and are not concerned about state affairs may feel content to be a hermit. If one is truly concerned about his community, he cannot be a hermit. Therefore, I do not feel ashamed every time I recommend myself for a job. This is also the reason why I constantly write to you and visit your office and wonder if I can stop doing so. I am deeply concerned about state affairs, and constantly study to compensate for the fact that I am not a student of great philosophers. I hope you will understand my enthusiasm to work for the government. My repeated letters might offend your might and dignity. I feel extremely worried.

Your true servant,

Yuh Harn