Stories from History: Xu Rong's Benevolence and Modesty

Zhou Xiaohui

PureInsight | March 16, 2008

[] Xu Rong was
from Zhejiang Province during the reign of Emperor Hongzhi in the Qing
dynasty. He was famous for his elegant writing. He was humble
and never tried to compare his ability to that of other capable people,
not to mention ancient sages.

A friend of his stole an article from him and used it during the
imperial examination and got the top score. This friend was overwhelmed
by his success and always bragged about it. He even boasted in front of
Xu Rong.  Many of Xu's friends were indignant about it and wanted
to rebuke this shameless person to his face. But Xu Rong dissuaded
them: “It concerns the fate of a person. His fate is to be number one
and it has nothing to do with the article. Moreover, I did not write
that article really. You shouldn't be mistaken any longer." The friend
who stole the article heard about it and came to apologize. He then
asked Xu for a manuscript and Xu Rong gave him his best manuscript.

Later, this friend used the manuscript in the civil examination and
succeeded in the highest imperial examination. However, Xu Rong failed
the examination. This friend not only wasn't grateful, but also
pretended not to recognize him when he became the county magistrate.
But Xu Rong never haggled over it.

Later, Xu Rong was a successful candidate in the highest imperial
examination and was appointed by the emperor to be the provincial
governor of Shandong Province. Then he happened to be the direct
superior of that friend. The friend was ashamed to see him and thus
submitted his resignation on account of being ill. But kind-hearted Xu
comforted his friend and treated him just like before.  

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