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With money you can make the devil turn the mill

Updated on December 1, 2010
Devil's Mill
Devil's Mill

A Chinese sayings, With money you can make the devil turn the mill.


This story is recorded in a book entitled The Arousing and Affecting of the Invisible World (幽閒鼓吹).


When Zhang Yan Shang (張延賞) undertook the office of judge and chancellor, he found that there was one large prison, in which considerable injustice had been practiced, and regarding which he frequently held his wrist in much perplexity; when he came into the judgment-hall, therefore, he summoned the gaoler, and sternly admonished him, saying, This prison has been in its present state for a long time, in ten days I must have it cleared.


The next morning he espied on the table of his office a note, containing the following words. '30,000 strings of cash, but pray do not enquire into the affairs of this prison.' At this the judge was very angry.


Next day, however, he saw another note, on which was written, '50,000 strings of cash.' The judge was still more enraged, and ordered that the business should be settled in two days.


The next day there was another note, with '100,000 strings of cash' written on it. The judge then desisted from his inquiries.


His disciples, watching their opportunity, enquired the cause; to whom he replied, 'When a sum mounts up so as to penetrate even to the spirits, there is no affair that may not be turned; I was afraid lest some calamity should come upon me, and could not but desist from my inquiries.'


(On the true meaning of the word shin, as exhibited in the quotations adduced under that word, in the Chinese imperial thesaurus, called 佩文韻府 the Pei-wan-yun-foo, translated by W. H. Medhurst. )

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