Stories from History: The Honorable Tang Wenzheng was an Honest and Upright Official

Liang Hao

PureInsight | July 1, 2007

[] Tang Bin
(1627-1687 A.D.) was from Sui County of Henan Province in the Qing
Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.). He passed the Imperial Civil Service
Examination in the ninth year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi and
became a Jinshi (metropolitan graduate). He assumed many official posts
including Shanxi Tongguan Dao (district magistrate), Jiangxi Lingbei
Dao, the Governor of Jiangsu, Minister of Rites, and Minister of Works.
His posthumous title is Wenzheng. He is well known in history for his
honesty and uprightness.

In the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi, Tang Bin went to
take the office of Shanxi Tongguan Dao. In order not to disturb the
people, he bought three mules, one for carrying his worn-out bedding
and a bamboo bookcase, two for carrying him and his servant. Upon
arriving at Tongguan, Tang Bin revealed his identity to the supervisor
of the guards. The supervisor was not convinced by the poor appearance
of Tang Bin and his luggage and said bluntly, "You don't smell like an
official even if you were cooked up in a pot."

When Tang Bin was the Governor of Jiangsu Province, even his wife and
son were dressed in rough clothes. He had very little luggage and
looked like a poor scholar. Their everyday dishes had nothing but some
vegetables. When Tao Bin left Jiangsu, the only thing from Jiangsu
added into his luggage was a set of The History of the Twenty-One Dynasties
that he had bought. Tao Bin told the officials who came to see him off
about this set of book, "It's cheaper in Jiangsu, that's why I bought
it here. Too bad it'll add some burden for the horse." When his wife
was carried out in a covered sedan, some worn-out cotton fiber fell to
the ground. People saw this and were all moved to tears.

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