The Great General Yue Fei Was Frugal and Virtuous, Seeking No Honor or Glory
(Clearwisdom.net) Yue Fei (March 24, 1103 - January 27, 1142) was faithful and virtuous, and served his motherland with unreserved loyalty. He was widely known and admired throughout China for hundreds of years after his death.
Historical research indicates that General Yue Fei was honest and frugal. He stayed away from frivolous music and women and did not seek fame and profit. His conduct deeply touched people's hearts and gained their admiration. Yue Fei once said, "If the government officials do not love money, and the military officers are not afraid of dying, then the country will be peaceful." Yue Fei practiced what he preached.
Yue Fei was the main general of the Southern Song Dynasty. Although he earned a decent salary, he insisted on living a frugal lifestyle. On one occasion, his second wife, Li Wa, wore a dress made of silk. When Yue Fei found out, he insisted that she change into a simple hemp outfit. Yue Fei took a large portion of his salary to subsidize the military. Once he sold everything in the family storage and used the money to make 2,000 bows. After Yue Fei was falsely accused and killed, his property was confiscated but no valuables or jewelry were found. There were only 3,000 bolts of hemp and silk fabric, and 5,000 pecks of dry rice and barley. Apparently, those items were stored to subsidize the military.
At the time, many senior officials and aristocrats coveted a life of comfort and pleasure. Wu Jie, a famous general who fought against the Jin, indulged in drinking and womanizing. Han Shizhong had many wives and concubines. Yue Fei's first wife remarried during the war. Thus Yue Fei married Li Wa, a virtuous and intelligent woman. She dedicated herself to taking care of the family and raising the children. Yue Fei and Li Wa were together until separated by death, maintaining a monogamous relationship.
When Yue Fei attacked Xiangyang, General Wu Jie sent a messenger to Yue Fei's military compound to discuss military affairs. Yue Fei gave a banquet to entertain him. The messenger then found out that Yue Fei did not have any concubines, singers, dancers, and women who entertain and accompany the men. He was very surprised and told Wu Jie about it. Upon hearing that, Wu Jie was also very surprised, thus, he spent a lot of money and bought a beautiful woman, the daughter of an official, in Sichuan Province. He sent a messenger to escort the woman and offered her to Yue Fei. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, Yue Fei sent the woman to an empty room, and spoke to the woman through a screen and kindly rejected her offer. Then he sent her back to Sichuan.
Throughout his military career, Yue Fei fought tirelessly on the battlefield, faced many enemies, and accomplished great feats. However, he only wished to serve his country loyally, and had no desire for glory, fame, or profit. He was humble, prudent, and respectful of others, and truly wanted to lead a quiet life without worldly desires. On several occasions, Yue Fei reported to the emperor, expressing his intention to retire after achieving his goals. In his lyrical poem, "Man Jiang Hong," Yue Fei wrote, "At age thirty my deeds are nothing but dust, my journey has taken me over eight thousand li." One can tell from his writings that he considered fame and glory as insignificant as a speck of dust. And the common people praised him and said, "With one hand holding the spear from heaven, he can determine the victory of a battle. However, his lack of a worldly desire and noble characteristics propel him to seek solitude."
Under the strict guidance of his father, Yue Fei's son Yue Yun became a brave and capable soldier at a young age. He too had many military achievements and won many battles. In the famous battle of Yingchang, Yue Yun took leadership, went in and out of the enemy's camp more than ten times, and suffered more than one hundred wounds. Finally, he led eight hundred extremely courageous strong soldiers and defeated the Jin army. However, Yue Fei only reported the soldiers' military achievement and did not mentioned Yue Yun's. Furthermore, Yue Fei declined several times the promotions the imperial court offered to Yue Yun.
Throughout history, General Yue Fei was highly regarded and respected by the people because of his noble character and conduct. He became the role model for loyalty and patriotism.
November 3, 2007