Song Hong–Known for Integrity and Speaking His Mind
(Minghui.org) Song Hong was brought up near the capital city of Chang'an, which is located in today's Shaanxi Province. He was a cabinet member during the early Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD – 220 AD). He was known for his integrity and honest governing, and because he said what was on his mind.
He visited Emperor Guangwu of Han. A new screen, with charming beauties painted on it, was just set up behind the emperor's seat. Emperor Guangwu turned his head around a few times to appreciate the beauties on the screen.
“It is difficult to find anyone who is as drawn to virtue as to feminine beauty,” Song said to the Emperor.
The emperor immediately ordered the screen be removed. He smiled at Song Hong, asked him for the reason of his remark and said that he could be persuaded by any righteous suggestion.
“Your Majesty has advanced on the virtuous path, which pleases me, as your subordinate, more than anything else,” replied Song.
At the time, Princess Huyang, an older sister of Emperor Guangwu, was newly widowed. The emperor asked that she share her impression of all the ranking imperial officials.
“Sir, Song Hong's mighty handsomeness matches his virtuous talents, far exceeding others,” the princess answered.
The emperor called in Song, while the princess hid behind the screen.
“As the saying goes, 'One changes his friends when one moves up socially, and changes his wife when one becomes wealthy.' It's human nature, is it not?” he asked Song.
“As a subordinate to Your Majesty, what I have heard is that one never forgets the friendship of the poor and humble days, and one cannot trade up by divorcing his wife who has stuck with him through thick and thin,” he responded.
The emperor turned around and told the princess that Song would never leave his wife.
Adapted from "Biography of Song Hong" in Book of the Later Han