Historical Story: Ji Xiaolan’s big radish


Ji Xiaolan and Liu Yong were both important officials of the Qing Dynasty. On that day, they were accompanying Emperor Qianlong to relax in the imperial garden. Ji Xiaolan suddenly asked Liu Yong, “how big is the largest radish in Shandong?” Liu Yong immediately described it with interest, but Ji Xiaolan didn’t think so: “what’s this? It’s far worse than our radishes in Zhili!” Liu Yong was not satisfied, so they argued. Emperor Qianlong listened to the joke and said, “what are you fighting for? Tomorrow morning, you will bring the biggest radish in your hometown and let everyone comment!”

Historical Story

The next day, Liu Yong really brought a huge turnip to the court. The ministers were amazed when they saw it. Qianlong smiled and asked Ji Xiaolan, “bring in your big radish and show me!” who knows, Ji Xiaolan took out a thin and small radish from his cuff. The ministers looked at each other, and Qianlong asked calmly, “Ji Xiaolan, what medicine are you selling in the gourd?” Ji Xiaolan said calmly: “Back to the emperor, I sent people to find Zhili Province. It’s easy to pick out such a big radish. Zhili’s soil is poor. In addition, in recent years, natural disasters continue and crops fail to harvest. The people can’t even pay much food. Please give me a lesson.”

Qianlong immediately understood that Ji Xiaolan was false in size compared with a turnip, which reflected the economic difficulties of his hometown. He said, “since Zhili is poor, take less grain; Shandong is rich, take more grain!” Liu Yong, who was broad-minded, praised Ji Xiaolan for using his “circuitous” humor to solve the problem in conversation and laughter.

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