When Nabeshima Tadanao was fifteen years old, a manservant in the kitchen committed some rude act and a foot soldier was about to beat him, but in the end the servant cut the soldier down. The clan elders deemed the death sentence appropriate, saying that the man had in the first place erred in matters concerning the ranks of men, and that he had also shed the blood of his opponent. Tadanao heard this and said, “Which is worse, to err in matters concerning the ranks of men or to stray from the Way of the Samurai?” The elders were unable to answer. Then Tadanao said, “I have read that when the crime itself is unclear, the punishment should be light. Put him in confinement for a while.”
Once, when Lord Katsushige was hunting at Shiroishi, he shot a large boar. Everyone came running up to see it and said, “Well, well. You have brought down an uncommonly large one!” Suddenly the boar got up and dashed into their midst. All of them fled in confusion, but Nabeshima Matabet drew his sword and finished it off. At that point Lord Katsushige covered his face with his sleeve and said, “It sure is dusty.” This was presumably because he did not want to see the spectacle of his flustered men.
When Lord Katsushige was young, he was instructed by his father, Lord Naoshige, “For practice in cutting, execute some men who have been condemned to death.” Thus, in the place that is now within the western gate, ten men were lined up, and Katsushige continued to decapitate one after another until he had executed nine of them. When he came to the tenth, he saw that the man was young and healthy and said, “I’m tired of cutting now. I’ll spare this man’s life.” And the man’s life was saved.
Lord Katsushige always used to say that there are four kinds of retainers. They are the “quick, then lapping,” the “lagging, then quick,” the “continually quick,” and the ”continually lagging.”The “continually quick” are men who when given orders will undertake their execution quickly and settle the matter well. Fukuchi Kichizaemon and the like resemble this type.
The “lagging, then quick” are men who, though lacking in understanding when given orders, prepare quickly and bring the matter to a conclusion. I suppose that Nakano Kazuma and men similar are like this. The “quick, then lagging” are men who when given orders seem to be going to settle things but in their preparation take time and procrastinate. There are many people like this. Other than these, one could say that the rest are ”continually lagging.”