Gems of Chinese Literature/Kao Ti-Imperial Proclamation

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gems of Chinese Literature translated by Herbert Allen Giles
Imperial Proclamation by Gaozu of Han (Kao Ti)


Reigned 202-195 b.c.

[This wonderful man, who founded the splendid House of Han, raised himself from the plough-tail to the throne. He was a simple peasant, named Liu Pang; but his genius soon placed him at the head of those malcontents who sought to shake the tyrannical yoke of the Ch‘ins; and from that time until he was proclaimed Emperor, his career was one of uninterrupted success.]


You have long groaned under the despotic sway of the Ch‘ins. To complain openly was to incur the penalty of extermination. Even casual words of objection were punished by decapitation of the individual.

Now, it was agreed between myself and the other nobles that whosoever first entered the territory of Ch'in should rule over it. Therefore I am come to rule over you. With you, I further agree upon three laws, viz:―

1. For murder, death.

2. For injury to the person, proportionate punishment.

3. For theft, proportionate punishment.

The remainder of the Ch'in laws to be abrogated.

The officials and people will continue to attend to their respective duties as heretofore. My sole object in coming here is to eradicate wrong. I desire to do violence to no one. Fear not.

My camp is for the moment at Pa-shang. I await the arrival of my colleagues in order to ratify the terms of our agreement.