This is the art of handling large masses of men.
26. In night-fighting, then, make much use of signal-fires and drums, and in fighting by day, of flags and banners, as a means of influencing the ears and eyes of your army.
The T‘ung Tien has the bad variant 便 for 變. With regard to the latter word, I believe I have hit off the right meaning, the whole phrase being slightly elliptical for “influencing the movements of the army through their senses of sight and hearing.” Li Ch‘üan, Tu Mu and Chia Lin certainly seem to understand it thus. The other commentators, however, take 民 (or 人) as the enemy, and 變 as equivalent to 變惑 or 變亂 “to perplex” or “confound.” This does not agree so well with what has gone before, though on the other hand it renders the transition to § 27 less abrupt. The whole question, I think, hinges on the alternative readings 民 and 人. The latter would almost certainly denote the enemy. Ch‘ên Hao alludes to 李光弼 Li Kuang-pi’s night ride to 河陽 Ho-yang at the head of 500 mounted men; they made such an imposing display with torches, that though the rebel leader 史思明 Shih Ssŭ-ming had a large army, he did not dare to dispute their passage. [Ch‘ên Hao gives the date as 天寳末 A.D. 756; but according to the 新唐書 New T‘ang History, 列傳 61, it must have been later than this, probably 760.]
27. A whole army may be robbed of its spirit;
“In war,” says Chang Yü, “if a spirit of anger can be made to pervade all ranks of an army at one and the same time, its onset will be irresistible. Now the spirit of the enemy’s soldiers will be keenest when they have newly arrived on the scene, and it is therefore our cue not to fight at once, but to wait until their ardour and enthusiasm have worn off, and then strike. It is in this way that they may be robbed of their keen spirit.” Li Ch‘üan and others tell an anecdote (to be found in the Tso Chuan,