or speaking in subdued tones
入入 is said to be the same as 如如.
points to disaffection amongst the rank and file.
失衆 is equivalent to 失其衆心, the subject of course being “the general,” understood. In the original text, which seems to be followed by several commentators, the whole passage stands thus; 諄諄翕翕徐與人言者失衆也. Here it would be the general who is talking to his men, not the men amongst themselves. For 翕, which is the chief stumbling-block in the way of this reading, the T‘u Shu gives the very plausible emendation 𧬈 (also read hsi, and defined by K‘ang Hsi as 疾言 “to speak fast”). But this is unnecessary if we keep to the standard text.
36. Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources;
Because, when an army is hard pressed, as Tu Mu says, there is always a fear of mutiny, and lavish rewards are given to keep the men in good temper.
too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.
Because in such case discipline becomes relaxed, and unwonted severity is necessary to keep the men to their duty.
37. To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.
I follow the interpretation of Ts‘ao Kung: 先輕敵後聞其衆則心惡之也, also adopted by Li Ch‘üan, Tu Mu and Chang Yü. Another possible meaning, set forth by Tu Yu, Chia Lin, Mei Yao-ch‘ên and Wang Hsi, is: “The general who is first tyrannical towards his men, and then in terror lest they should mutiny, etc.” This would connect the sentence with what went before about rewards and punishments. The T‘ung Tien and Yü Lan read 情 “affection” instead of 精.
38. When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.