Zhong Liyi, a Man of Compassion, Honesty and Righteousness
Zhong Liyi was a kind, sympathetic man in the Dong Han (East Han) Dynasty. He was an honest official.
Zhong Liyi was very gentle, helpful, and accommodating. As a Prefecture Postal Superintendent in his younger years, many of his subordinates received his help and assistance. One year there was a great epidemic in the area. More than ten thousand people died and everyone was trying to escape by leaving the area. Only Zhong Liyi remained behind, personally taking care of the patients and getting them medicine. The heavens really take care of those who perform good deeds and are virtuous. During the epidemic, even though Zhong Liyi was constantly facing the deadly disease, he never got sick.
Because of Zhong Liyi's outstanding conduct and unsurpassed integrity, he was soon recommended for the position of Xiaolian, another promotion for him. During the dead of winter one year, Zhong Liyi was ordered to escort some prisoners, who had been sentenced to hard labor, to the Henei District. Most of these prisoners wore very little clothing, and some were very sick and could hardly walk. When they passed the Hongnong area, Zhong Liyi ordered the local county government to make warm coats for these prisoners. When Emperor Guangwu learned this, he praised Zhong Liyi as a good and decent official. The Emperor commended his benevolent heart.
Later, Zhong Liyi ordered the shackles and other instruments of torture removed from these prisoners so that they could walk by themselves. In the end all of the prisoners reached the destination on time and there was no delay. Zhong Liyi held the position of Xiaolian in many districts, and he always treated people with compassion and sympathy. Many criminals were touched by his benevolence. One felon named Fang Guang was sentenced to prison. He got the news that his mother passed away due to illness while he was serving in prison. He was so grieved that he could not eat. Zhong Liyi heard the news and was very sympathetic. He permitted the prisoner to go home to take care of the funeral arrangements. Fang Guang came back to the prison by himself after he attended the funeral service.
After Emperor Xianzong ascended the throne, Zhong Liyi was appointed to the high position of Shangshu. Once, there was an official who was punished because of corruption. Much of his confiscated personal possessions, including money and jewelry, were awarded by the Emperor to his deputies based on their positions and seniority. Zhong Liyi threw all the awarded jewelry and valuables on the ground and did not bow to express his gratification to the Emperor. The Emperor was bewildered and asked for the reason. Righteous and upright, Zhong Liyi replied, "I heard that Confucius would rather be thirsty than drink water from a spring named 'Thief's Well.' Zeng Shen would rather take a detour because of street names such as 'Conquering Mother,' because he disliked such disrespectful names. The valuables and jewelry were loot from corruption. How could I dare to accept them?" The Emperor gave his praise, saying, "Shangshu is very honest and upright." He ordered the palace treasurer to withdraw money from the treasury for Zhong Liyi as the award.
July 31 2006