On the Ah Fang Palace
After the end of the Six Kings the empire bounded by the four seas was unified under a single ruler; and with Shu Shan stripped of its woods, the Ah Fang Palace appeared. It stretched to more than three hundred li, covering the sun in the sky; and from the north of Li-Shan it meandered to the west, and then made straightway for Hsien Yang. Two rivers flowing gently coursed their way into the palace-walls.
At each five steps there stood a storeyed building, and at each ten steps, there stood a hall, with corridors winding like waving silk, and the projecting eaves turning high up like birds' bills. Each of the structures possessed its vantage of ground; but they were all ingeniously interlocked together, or one set against another. Some were domed, and others were curved. The courts were like so many cells in the beehive; and of the lofty eave-drippings who can tell how many millions they were.
The long bridge is lying upon the waves; how can the dragon come without clouds? The roofed causeway is stretched in the air; how can the rainbow appear without having a clearing-up sky? Both the high and the low are shrouded in the mists, and it is hard to distinguish the east from the west.
When the singing platform was re-echoed with happy songs, it was full of genial warmth of the spring; but when the dancing sleeves became cold in the dancing hall, it was chilling like wind and rain. The climate did remain the same even on the same day and in the same palace!
Noble ladies, royal princes and their children, after bidding farewell to their own chambers and halls, were all carried away to the state of Ch'in; where they practiced singing and music in the morning and evening, and became palace-men and place-women of Ch'in.
Bright stars sparking — it was mirrors laid open. Green clouds floating about — it was hair-dressing in the morning. The Wei River swelling with grease — it was made by the waste of ointment. Smoke curling up and vapour spreading — it was burning of perfume. Thunder rolling suddenly — it was the passing of palace-carriages, which one heard rumbling far off, but none could tell where it went to. Each inch of the skin was beautified to the extreme, and each movement of the body was studied to the utmost. The pretty ladies, stood gazing and looked forward to a royal visit, and some of them had not had a single dance from the king for thirty-six years.
What Yen-Chao had laid up, what Han-Wei had accumulated, and What Ch'i-Ch'u had treasured up — for many generations and years pillaged from the people — were piled up like mountains; but once they could not hold their own all were transported here. Tripods and precious stones were treated like kitchen pots and rocks. Gold and pearls were regarded as clod and pebbles. They were all scattered about in confusion, being little valued by the man of Ch'in.
Alas! Men are all like-minded, one or ten thousand. Ch'in loved splendour and luxury, and other men also coveted his house. Why should he exhaust every dram in taking in, and spend away like mud and sand — making the beam-bearing posts more than the peasants in the south fields ,the rafters on the roofs more than the female-weavers on the loom, the shining nail-caps more than the grain in the grand granaries, the uneven rows of tiles more than the silk threads all over the body, the balustrades, lengthwise and crosswise, more than the city-walls of the Nine States, sound of piped and stringed music more than the noise on the market — that the world dared to hate but not to speak, and the mind of the autocrat became daily prouder, and harder!
Behold, at the shout of the garrison guards the Hanku pass fell; and by the touch of the one torch of the man of Ch'u all became a sad stretch of scorched earth.
Alas, it was the Six States and not Ch'in that destroyed the Six States; and it was Ch'in and not the world that exterminated the clan of Ch'in. If each of the Six States had loved their own people they would have been strong enough to resist the power of Ch'in; and if Ch'in had loved the people of the Six States, he might have ruled the empire through succession from three to ten thousand generations; and who could have exterminated his clan? The man of Ch'in, having no opportunity of lamenting himself, was left to be lamented by later generations; and the later generations who lament Ch'in, but refuse to learn a lesson from him make later generations lament the later generations.