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Wan-li: Year 30, Month 7, Day 27

12 Sep 1602

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The Censor-in-chief of the Left Wen Chun memorialized:

"For years now, the ministry officials, the censors as well as the grand coordinators and regional inspectors have spoken strongly about the harm brought by the taxation and procurement activities, and have sought to have the very evil eunuchs such as Li Feng, Chen Zeng, Yang Rong and Gao Huai recalled so as to cut off the sprouts of rebellion. However, the Court has still not listened to the pleas. Now, Li Feng's lasciviousness has extended to the defiling of 66 women, while the transportation of his private valuables has required 300 chests and 60 ships. He is bound to be slain by the people who have long harboured hatred and resentment against him. Should not majesty proceed solely from the Emperor, so that Imperial authority and control are not lost? On account of the precious stone mines, the Ava-Burma chieftain has raised 100,000 troops and has been spying on Yun-nan's borders ....

Yan Ying-long and Zhang Yi have submitted a memorial on being able to bring in 100,000 [liang] of gold and 300,000 [liang] of silver, through maritime trading. Their words are truly like a comedy. However even the Emperor, with his Heavenly wisdom and perspicacity, has considered the claims possible. We are alarmed and shaken and are unable to eat or sleep. We are afraid that at some time troops will have to be raised and calamities will occur and that this will require incalculable millions of the Imperial funds. Also, it is not known if it will be possible to defeat them. If it is not possible to defeat them, the calamity will not only be a financial one. In years gone by, the Ava-Burma yi took in our fugitives and disturbed our border areas. There was not one day on which we could be unmindful of their plans to enlarge their territory. Now, they have devastated Man-mo and are pressing on the three pacification commissions as well as Teng-yue and Yong-chang. Calamity is imminent and the whole of Yun-nan has been shaken by its neighbour. The wild chieftain used the precious stone mines as a pretext for hostilities and he dared to initiate border troubles. This does not require our further explanation... As to the memorial by Yan Ying-long and Zhang Yi, it is particularly perverse and improper. We have heard that through the levies at the Hai-cheng Maritime Trade Supervisorate Gao Cai already obtains 30,000 [liang?] of silver annually. He spares no efforts and does not give up his benefits.

We humbly consider that although Mt. Ji-yi is overseas, it is not an area where bountiful gold and silver litter the ground, or a place where anyone can wish for and obtain these things. It is also considered that the tax-collecting eunuchs, the evil military officials and their followers constitute the power on which the various evil-doers depend. This may be effective in China, but will certainly not be so among the foreign yi. From where then will come this 100,000 [liang] of gold and 300,000 [liang] of silver which has been reported to the Emperor? Their aim is nothing more than to provide a pretext for the issue of an Imperial order by which the strict prohibitions on communication with the fan would be greatly relaxed. The greater the amounts of saltpetre, unworked iron ore, military weapons and ships which can be got past the prohibitions, the greater the profits. Then, with full cargoes and sails hoisted, they will be able to go anywhere. Thereby military secrets will leak out and the various countries will be enticed to come. How can it be thought that the only calamities will be confusion of public and private trade through intimidation and deceit, and trouble just for the city of Hai-cheng! In previous years, the Japanese rebelled precisely because evil people traded privately across the seas and the major families engaged in extortionate practices to keep prices low. The Japanese were thereby angered and, raising troops, they engaged in looting and plunder. Now, if this is permitted by Imperial order, the troubles will be invited and armed strife will be continuous. Zhang Yi and the other various evil-doers are no more than the successors to Zeng Yi-ben, Lin Dao-qian, Xu Ming-shan and Wang Zhi. They settle on an island and put up forts, call themselves princes and engage in disorder. In the near term, they will seek great profits, while later they will become like Wei Tuo. If the plans of these fugitives are realized, what will happen to the country? It is humbly hoped that the Emperor will give great attention and thought to this matter, have Li Feng taken into custody and prosecuted, and order that Chen Zeng, Yang Rong and Gao Huai return to the capital. The Embroidered-Uniform Guard should be ordered to arrest Lu Deng-ke, Yu Yuan-jun, Yan Ying-long and Zhang Yi and send them to the judicial offices for sentencing in accordance with their crimes. Thereby, the ancestors and spirits will be greatly pleased."

There was no response to this memorial. At this time, all of the evil people in the military and the market places, chattered about profits... Yan Ying-long had memorialized:

"Mt. Ji-yi in Hai-cheng County, Fu-jian, produces gold and silver and by proceeding there by ship to wash for it, it will be possible to obtain 100,000 liang of gold and 300,000 liang of silver every year".... The office of scrutiny official Yao Wen-wei and others advised: "The officials Jin Zhong-shi, Shi Xue-qian, Tang Zhao-jing, Wen Ru-zhang and Zhu Wu-bi have all submitted memorials on these matters, stressing that they will engender disaster and will harm the people. Although the memorials have been put aside, the Emperor has not forbidden the offering of straight-forward advice."

Shen-zong: juan 374.9b-11a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 112, page 7036/39

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/wan-li/year-30-month-7-day-27, accessed October 17, 2019