A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/Chang I (張儀)

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70Chang I 張儀. Died B.C. 310. A native of the Wei State, notorious as a clever political adventurer. In his youth, he and Su Ch'in were servants in a school, and picked up an education by copying the pupils' exercises on their palms and legs, and transcribing them at night when they got home. Subsequently, they both went to study under Kuei-ku Tzǔ, and then became itinerant politicians who laid themselves out for official employment with one or other of the Feudal States. Su Ch'in embraced the federal cause, and induced the Six States Ch'i, Ch'u, Yen, Chao, Wei, and Han, to band together to resist the growing power of the Ch'ins; while Chang I, after a short term of employment in the Ch'u State, entered the service of the ruler of the Ch'in State, and devoted all his energies to bringing the allies under the power of his master. In B.C. 328 he was invested with the title of Foreign Minister, and led a successful campaign against his own native State, by which Ch'in acquired a large slice of Wei. A few years later he was sent to Wei to be Minister, but the plan failed, and in 323 he returned to Ch'in, which State he continued to aid in its acquisition of territory. At length, he persuaded all the Six States to acknowledge the supremacy of Ch'in, for which he was ennobled as Prince. He lived to witness the downfall and assassination of his former comrade, Su Ch'in. He died however as Prime Minister of his native State of Wei, whither he returned in 310, after the accession to the throne of the Ch'in State of Wu Wang, who had never entertained friendly feelings for him. It is recorded that in his early life, after a banquet at the house of a Minister of Ch'u, at which he had been present, he was wrongly accused of stealing some valuable gem, and was very severely beaten. On his return home, he said to his wife, "Look and see if they have left me my tongue." And when his wife declared that it was safe and sound, he cried out, "If I still have my tongue, that is all I want."