Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/210

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  1. 火發而其兵靜者待而勿攻
  2. 極其火力可從而從之不可從而止
  3. 火可發於外無待於內以時發之


7. (2) If there is an outbreak of fire, but the enemy's soldiers remain quiet, bide your time and do not attack.

The original text omits 而其. The prime object of attacking with fire is to throw the enemy into confusion. If this effect is not produced, it means that the enemy is ready to receive us. Hence the necessity for caution.

8. (3) When the force of the flames has reached its height, follow it up with an attack, if that is practicable; if not, stay where you are.

Ts‘ao Kung says: 可見而進知難而退 “If you see a possible way, advance; but if you find the difficulties too great, retire.”

9. (4) If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without, do not wait for it to break out within, but deliver your attack at a favourable moment.

Tu Mu says that the previous paragraphs had reference to the fire breaking out (either accidentally, we may suppose, or by the agency of incendiaries) inside the enemy’s camp. “But,” he continues, 若敵居𮎰澤草穢或營柵可焚之地卽須及時發火不必更待內發作然後應之恐敵人自燒野草我起火無益 “if the enemy is settled in a waste place littered with quantities of grass, or if he has pitched his camp in a position which can be burnt out, we must carry our fire against him at any seasonable opportunity, and not wait on in hopes of an outbreak occurring within, for fear our opponents should themselves burn up the surrounding vegetation, and thus render our own attempts fruitless.” The famous 李陵 Li Ling once baffled the 單于 leader of the Hsiung-nu in this way. The latter, taking advantage of a favourable wind, tried to set fire to the Chinese general’s camp, but found that every scrap of combustible vegetation in the neighbourhood had already been burnt down. On the other hand, 波才 Po-ts‘ai, a general of the 黃巾賊 Yellow Turban rebels, was badly defeated in 184 A.D. through his neglect of this simple precaution. “At the head of a large army he was besieging 長社 Ch‘ang-shê, which was held by 皇甫嵩 Huang-fu Sung. The garrison was very