This is Part 8 in an annotation of 揚州十日記(‘Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou’). Like 吳城日記, it’s a daily log from the year 1645, a year after the Manchus took Beijing, marking the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qing (明末清初).
This diary covers the Yangzhou massacre (also known as “The Ten Days of Yangzhou”) , and was written by 王秀楚(Wang Xiuchu). You can read about these events, as well as see more translations of the text, in Lynn A. Struve’s book on the topic.
As always, if you notice a mistake or have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.
廳後宅西房尚存諸老婦，不能躲避，由中堂穿至後室，中盡牧駝馬，復不能逾走； In the rear hall, in the west of the house, there were still several old women, so I could not hide there; I went through the main hall to the back, where there were several herded camels and horses, which I couldn't jump over;
心愈急，遂俯就駝馬腹下，歷數駝馬腹匍匐而出； My heart became even more anxious, but then I stooped down under the bellies of the camels and horses; I crept under the bellies of the camels and horses one by one and got out;
若驚駝馬，稍一舉足，即成泥矣。 if the camels or horses had been startled, and had raised their hooves even slightly, I would have been pulped.
又歷宅數層，皆無走路，惟旁有弄可通後門，而弄門已為卒加長錐釘固； I then went through several layers of buildings, all without a way path to go on; only to one side there was an alleyway which took me through to a back door; the door in the alleyway had been nailed fast in order to strengthen it against soldiers;
予復由後弄至前，聞前堂殺人聲，愈惶怖無策，回顧左側有廚，中四人蓋亦被執治庖者也，予求收入，使得參司火掌汲之役，或可倖免。 I then went out through a back alley and got to the front, and heard the sound of people being killed in the front hall; I was even more panicked and terrified, and without a plan; I looked behind to the left and there was a kitchen, with four people concealed inside who were kitchen workers *[???]*; I begged them to let me in, and they all anxiously repelled me with their hands; perhaps they were lucky and escaped. *[???]*
四人峻拒曰：“我四人點而役者也，使再點而增人，必疑有詐，禍且及我！” The four people said harshly, repelling me: "We four people have claimed to be servants *[???]*; if we had another person, they will be suspicious of trickery, and disaster will befall us!"
予哀籲不已，乃更大怒，欲執予赴外，予乃出，心益急，視階前有架，架上有甕，去屋不甚遠，乃援架而上，手方及甕，身已傾僕，蓋甕中虛而用力猛故也。 Grief-stricken I implored them endless, and then they became even angrier, wanting to take me outside; I thereupon left, my mind all the more anxious, and saw that in front of the steps was a shelf, and on top of the shelf was a large pot; it wasn't very far from the house, so I used the shelf to climb up; just when my hand touched the pot, my body fell in; the lid of the pot was empty but I used my strength and fierceness. *[???]*
無可奈何，仍急趨旁弄門，兩手棒錐搖撼百度，終莫能動，擊以石，則響達外庭，恐覺； There was no alternative - I rushed to the entrance of an alleyway to the side, and with both hands grabbed the bolt and shook it to the hundredth degree; I attacked it with a stone, and the resulting noise echoed into the outer courtyard, and I feared them noticing;
不得已復竭力搖撼之，指裂血流，淋漏兩肘，錐忽動，盡力拔之，錐已在握，急掣門閂，門閂木槿也，濡雨而漲，其堅澀倍於錐，予迫甚，但力取門閂，門閂不能出而門樞忽折，扉傾垣頹，聲如雷震，予急聳身飛越，亦不知力之何來也。 I had no choice but to do my utmost to shake it, my fingers cracking and blood flowing out, running down to my elbows; the bolt suddenly moved, and I used all my strength to pull it out; the bolt in my hand, I anxiously pulled on the door latch; the latch was made of hibiscus wood, and absorbing the rain had expanded, becoming twice as strong as the bolt; I pressed on it hard using all my strength to pull out the latch, but the latch couldn't come out and the door hinges suddenly broke; the door collapsed and the wall crumbled, the noise like thunder or an earthquake; I hurriedly sprung up and flew threw - I don't know where the strength came from.
疾趨後門出，即為城腳。 I madly dashed out of the back door, and there was the foot of the city wall.
時兵騎充斥，觸處皆是，前進不能，即於喬宅之左鄰後門挨身而入； At that moment it was flooded mounted soldiers all over the place, so I could not go forward; at that I went to the back door of the neighbours' house to the left of the Qiao residence and hauled myself in;
凡可避處皆有人，必不肯容，由後至前，凡五進皆如是。 all of the hiding places had people in the them, and they definitely would not be willing to accept me, so I went from the back to the front, and all five rooms I went in were like this.
直至大門，已臨通衢，兵丁往來絡繹不絕，人以為危地而棄之。 I got to the main door, which overlooked the thoroughfare; soldiers were coming and going in an endless stream - people took it be a dangerous place and had abandoned it.
予乃急入，得一榻，榻顛有仰頂，因緣柱登之，屈身向裡，喘息方定，忽聞隔牆吾弟哀號聲，又聞舉刀砍擊聲，凡三擊遂寂然。 I thereupon hurried back in, and found a bed with a canopy above it; I took the opportunity and climbed up one of the bedposts, bending my body inside; I gasped for breath and my breathing settled, and suddenly I heard through the wall the sound of my younger brother's anguished cries; then I heard the sound of a blade hacking, three strikes in all, and then it was silent.
少間復聞仲兄哀懇曰：“吾有金在家地窖中，放我，當取獻。” After a little while I also heard my second elder brother pleadingly say: "I have silver in the basement of my house - let me go and I will get it and give it to you."
一擊复寂然； One strike and it was silent.
予此時神已離舍，心若焚膏，眼枯無淚，腸結欲斷，不復自主也。 At that moment my spirit had already left its lodging, my heart was like burning oil, my eyes dried up and without tears, my intestines knotted and about to break, and I could no longer control myself.
旋有卒挾一婦人直入，欲宿此榻， 婦不肯，強而後可，婦曰： Shortly after a soldier coercing a woman walked right in, wanting to sleep with her on the bed; the woman refused, but he forced her, and afterwards the woman said:
“此地近市，不可居。” "This place is near the marketplace, we can't stay here."
卒复攜之去，予幾不免焉。 The soldier then took her and left, and I only just escaped.
室有仰屏，以席為之，不勝人，然緣之可以及梁，予以手兩扳樑上桁條而上，足托駝梁，下有席蔽，中黑如漆，仍有兵至，以矛上搠，知是空虛，料無人在上，予始得竟日未遇兵； The room had a false ceiling made of woven matting; it couldn't support a person, but along the edge one could get up onto the beams; I used both my hands to pull myself up onto the beams, putting my feet on the centre beam; from below I was concealed by the woven matting, and within it was black like lacquer; then soldiers came in and used spears to thrust upwards, knowing that there was a space; they guessed that no-one was up there, and I for the first time I was able to go a day without encountering soldiers.
然在下被刃者幾何人？ But how many people were killed with blades below me?
街前每數騎過，必有數十男婦哀號隨其後。 In every thoroughfare there were several cavalrymen passing, and there must have been several dozen men and women wailing mournfully after them.
是日雖不雨，亦無日色，不知旦暮。 Although it didn't rain that day, I could not see the sun, and did not know dawn or dusk.
至夕，軍騎稍疏，左右惟聞人聲悲泣，思吾弟兄已傷其半，伯兄亦未卜存亡？ By evening, the cavalrymen had lessened, and on either side I only heard the sound of people weeping with grief; I considered that half of us brothers had already been killed; I also had no way of diving whether my eldest brother was still alive or not.
予婦予子不知何處？ My wife and my son - where are they?
欲踪蹟之，或得一見； I wanted to track them down and perhaps see them once more;
且使知兄弟死所。 moreover I should let them know about the deaths of my brothers.
乃附梁徐下，躡足至前街，街中枕屍相藉，天暝莫辨為誰？ So I gently let myself down by the beams, and walked on tiptoes to the thoroughfare in the front; in the street the piled up bodies lay upon each other; the sky was darkening and I could not distinguish one from another.
俯屍遍呼，漠無應者。 I looked down at the corpses and called out, by no-one replied.
遙見南首數火炬蜂擁而來，予急避之，循郭而走。 Distantly in the south I could see several torches flocking together and approaching, so I hurriedly fled from them, sticking to the wall and leaving.
城下積尸如鱗，數蹶，聲與相觸，不能措足，則俯伏以手代步，每有所驚，即僕地如殭屍，久之始通於衢。 Below the wall the accumulated bodies were like fish-scales, and I stumbled on several; when I heard a sound and could not run on my feet, I lay prostrate and moved with my hands; every time something frightened me, I lay down like a stiff corpse, continuing like that until I got to a thoroughfare.
衢前後舉火者數處，照耀如白晝，逡巡累時，而後越，得達小路，路人昏夜互觸相驚駭，路不滿百步，自酉至亥方及兄家。 In front of and behind the street fires and been lit in several places, and it was illuminated like broad daylight; I hesitated for a while and then climbed over into a small street; the people in the street were muddled in the night and bumped into each other, startling themselves; the street was less than a hundred paces long; I walked from early evening to late evening and then reached my elder brother's house.
Series: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 1
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 2
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 3
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 4
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 5
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 6
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 7
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 8 (this article)
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 9
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 10
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 11
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 12
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 13
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 14
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 15
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 16
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 17
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 18
- 揚州十日記 translation: Diary of the Ten Days of Yangzhou, Part 19