Story from History: A Forgiving and Tolerant Official

Hong Yi

PureInsight | September 17, 2006

[] When Zhang Qi
Xian was promoted to government official in Southern China, he held a
family banquet. A servant stole several silver utensils and hid them in
his clothing. Zhang Qi Xian clearly saw everything but did not speak to
the servant about it. In his later years, Zhang Qi Xian became Prime
Minister and many of the servants in his family also became officials
except the one who stole the utensils. He had no official position and

One day the servant knelt in front of Zhang Qi Xian
and said, "I have been serving you for the longest time, but all those
who came after me become officials except me. Why so?" He then cried
without stopping.

Zhang Qi Xian said with sympathy: "I did not
want to say anything originally, yet you are the one who is
complaining. Do you still remember that you stole several of my silver
utensils? I have kept this thing in my heart for thirty years and have
not told  anyone. I am the Prime Minister. My job is to encourage
virtuous and capable officials and get rid of the corrupt officials.
How can I recommend a thief to become an official? Considering the fact
that you have served me for a long time, I now give you thirty thousand
coins. I ask you to leave my house and go find a place to live. Since I
have revealed your past, you must feel ashamed and guilty in my
presence, so you cannot stay anymore." The servant was greatly shocked
and bade farewell in tears.

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