Our problems remain epistemological.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Virtue: An Exemplar

Letter from Empress Wende to Emperor Taizong (Tang Dynasty) (circa 636 CE):

[Chancellor] Fang Xuanling has served Your Imperial Majesty for a long time. He is careful, and all of his wonderful strategies and secret plans were not revealed to anyone. Unless there is a particularly good reason, I hope that you will not abandon him. As to my Zhangsun clan, many of them enjoy high salaries and high positions on account of our marriage, not because of their great virtues, and therefore they can crumble easily. In order to preserve the Zhangsuns, I hope that you will not put them in powerful positions, and that they would be satisfied with seeing you at imperial gatherings the first and 15th day of each month. 

During my lifetime, I made no contributions to the people, and I should not harm them in my death. I hope that you will not build a tomb to cause the people to labour and the empire to waste resources. Make a hill my tomb, and only use brick or wooden implements in the tomb. I hope that Your Imperial Majesty will continue to be close to honest men and stay away from those lacking virtues; that you will accept faithful words and reject wicked flattery; that you will decrease [your personal] labours and stop [your personal] hunting. Even as I go into the underworld, if these things happen, I will have no regrets. It is not necessary to summon the sons and daughters back here; if I see them mourn and cry, I will only be saddened.


Wende was also the author of a 30-volume treatise: Examples for Women.

Seth Barrett Tillman, Virtue: An Exemplar, New Reform Club (Nov. 5, 2021, 4:38 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2021/11/virtue-exemplar.html>;

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