I. e. as Li Ch‘üan says (伐其始謀也), in their very inception. Perhaps the word “baulk” falls short of expressing the full force of 伐, which implies not an attitude of defence, whereby one might be content to foil the enemy’s stratagems one after another, but an active policy of counter-attack. Ho Shih puts this very clearly in his note: “When the enemy has made a plan of attack against us, we must anticipate him by delivering our own attack first.”
the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces;
Isolating him from his allies. We must not forget that Sun Tzŭ, in speaking of hostilities, always has in mind the numerous states or principalities into which China of his day was split up.
the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field;
When he is already in full strength.
and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
The use of the word 政 is somewhat unusual, which may account for the reading of the modern text: 其下攻城.
4. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.
Another sound piece of military theory. Had the Boers acted upon it in 1899, and refrained from dissipating their strength before Kimberley, Mafeking, or even Ladysmith, it is more than probable that they would have been masters of the situation before the British were ready seriously to oppose them.
The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months;
It is not quite clear what 櫓 were. Ts‘ao Kung simply defines them as 大楯 “large shields,” but we get a better idea of them from Li Ch‘üan, who says they were to protect the heads of those who were assaulting the city walls at close quarters. This seems to suggest a sort of Roman testudo, ready made. Tu Mu says they were “what are now termed 彭排” (wheeled vehicles used in repelling attacks, according to K‘ang Hsi), but this is denied by Ch‘ên Hao. See supra, II. 14. The name is also applied to turrets on city walls. Of 轒轀 (fén yün) we get