成語故事

Pulling On One's Shoe In a Melon Patch, Or Adjusting One's Cap Under A Plum Tree

瓜田李下

Emperor Wen of the Tang dynasty was a very democratic ruler. Before doing anything, he would always ask the opinion of his ministers. Once he asked Liou Gung-chiuan how the people felt about the government. Liou Gung-chiuan respectfully answered, "Concerning your sending Guo Min to be in charge of Bin-ning, some people are in favor and others are not." Emperor Wen appeared very unhappy, and said, "Guo Min is an upright and law-abiding official; of course he is qualified for the job." Liou Gung-chuian agreed, but added, "The people who are criticizing you think that he bribed you with his two head and said, "They've misunderstood. Guo Min's daughters came to the palace to pay their respects to the empress dowager, not to act as my concubines." Liou Gung-chuian replied, "Yes, but this is like the suspicion aroused by pulling on one's shoe in a melon patch or adjusting one's cap under a plum tree. How can you make all the people understand?"

This original two-phrase saying was later shortened to "In a Melon Patch, or Under a Plum Tree." It means that if a person pulls on his shoe in a melon patch, other people are likely to think he is stealing melons; and if he adjusts his cap under a plum tree, other people are likely to think he is picking plums. Thus, it refers to being in suspicious circumstances or surroundings.

瓜田李下

唐朝唐文宗時,大書法家柳公權忠良耿直,能言善諫,官職擔任工部侍郎。當時有個叫郭寧的官員把兩個女兒送進宮中,於是皇帝就派郭寧到郵寧(現在的陝西郵縣)做官,人們對這件事議論紛紛。皇帝就以這件事來問柳公權:「郭寧是太皇太后的繼父,官封大將軍,當官以來沒有什麼過失,現在只讓他當郵寧這個小小地方的主官,又有甚麼不妥呢?」柳公權說:「議論的人都以為郭寧是因為進獻兩個女兒入宮,才得到這個官職的。」唐文宗說:「郭寧的兩個女兒是進宮陪太后的,並不是獻給朕的。」柳公權回答:「瓜田李下的嫌疑,人們哪能都分辨得清呢?」

「瓜田李下」是從古樂府【君子行】中的詩句「瓜田不納履,李下不整冠」引申來的。這裡柳公權是比喻皇帝的做法很容易讓人產生懷疑。


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