Book I, Part II: King Hûi of Liang
How the love of music may be made subservient to good government, and to
a prince's own advancement.
1. Chwang Pâ'o, seeing Mencius, said to him, 'I had an interview with
the king. His Majesty told me that he loved music, and I was not prepared
with anything to reply to him. What do you pronounce about that love of
music?' Mencius replied, 'If the king's love of music were very great, the
kingdom of Ch'î would be near to a state of good government!'
2. Another day, Mencius, having an interview with the king, said, 'Your
Majesty, I have heard, told the officer Chwang, that you love music;-- was
it so?' The king changed colour, and said, 'I am unable to love the music
of the ancient sovereigns; I only love the music that suits the manners of
the present age.'
3. Mencius said, 'If your Majesty's love of music were very great,
Ch'î would be near to a state of good government! The music of the
present day is just like the music of antiquity, as regards effecting
4. The king said, 'May I hear from you the proof of that?' Mencius asked,
'Which is the more pleasant,-- to enjoy music by yourself alone, or to enjoy
it with others?' 'To enjoy it with others,' was the reply. 'And which is
the more pleasant,-- to enjoy music with a few, or to enjoy it with many?'
'To enjoy it with many.'
5. Mencius proceeded, 'Your servant begs to explain what I have said about
music to your Majesty.
6. 'Now, your Majesty is having music here.-- The people hear the noise of
your bells and drums, and the notes of your fifes and pipes, and they all,
with aching heads, knit their brows, and say to one another, "That's how
our king likes his music! But why does he reduce us to this extremity of
distress?-- Fathers and sons cannot see one another. Elder brothers and
younger brothers, wives and children, are separated and scattered abroad."
Now, your Majesty is hunting here.-- The people hear the noise of your
carriages and horses, and see the beauty of your plumes and streamers, and
they all, with aching heads, knit their brows, and say to one another,
"That's how our king likes his hunting! But why does he reduce us to this
extremity of distress?-- Fathers and sons cannot see one another. Elder
brothers and younger brothers, wives and children, are separated and
scattered abroad." Their feeling thus is from no other reason but that you
do not allow the people to have pleasure as well as yourself.
7. 'Now, your Majesty is having music here. The people hear the noise of
your bells and drums, and the notes of your fifes and pipes, and they all,
delighted, and with joyful looks, say to one another, "That sounds as if
our king were free from all sickness! If he were not, how could he enjoy
this music?" Now, your Majesty is hunting here.-- The people hear the noise
of your carriages and horses, and see the beauty of your plumes and
streamers, and they all, delighted, and with joyful looks, say to one
another, "That looks as if our king were free from all sickness! If he
were not, how could he enjoy this hunting?" Their feeling thus is from no
other reason but that you cause them to have their pleasure as you have
8. 'If your Majesty now will make pleasure a thing common to the people
and yourself, the royal sway awaits you.'
How a ruler must not indulge his love for parks and hunting to the
discomfort of his people.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, 'Was it so, that the park of
king Wan contained seventy square lî?' Mencius replied, 'It is so
in the records.'
2. 'Was it so large as that?' exclaimed the king. 'The people,' said
Mencius, 'still looked on it as small.' The king added, 'My park contains
only forty square lî, and the people still look on it as large. How
is this?' 'The park of king Wan,' was the reply, 'contained seventy square
lî, but the grass-cutters and fuel-gatherers had the privilege of
entrance into it; so also had the catchers of pheasants and hares. He
shared it with the people, and was it not with reason that they looked on
it as small?
3. 'When I first arrived at the borders of your kingdom, I inquired about
the great prohibitory regulations, before I would venture to enter it; and
I heard, that inside the barrier-gates there was a park of forty square
lî, and that he who killed a deer in it, was held guilty of the same
crime as if he had killed a man.-- Thus those forty square lî are a
pitfall in the middle of the kingdom. Is it not with reason that the people
look upon them as large?'
How friendly intercourse with neighboring kingdoms may be maintained,
and the love of valour made subservient to the good of the people, and the
glory of the prince.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, saying, 'Is there any way to
regulate one's maintenance of intercourse with neighbouring kingdoms?'
Mencius replied, 'There is. But it requires a perfectly virtuous prince to
be able, with a great country, to serve a small one,-- as, for instance,
T'ang served Ko, and king Wan served the Kwan barbarians. And it requires
a wise prince to be able, with a small country, to serve a large one,-- as
the king T'âi served the Hsün-yü, and Kâu-ch'ien
2. 'He who with a areat State serves a small one, delights in Heaven. He
who with a small State serves a large one, stands in awe of Heaven. He who
delights in Heaven, will affect with his love and protection the whole
kingdom. He who stands in awe of Heaven, will affect with his love and
protection his own kingdom.
3. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "I fear the Majesty of Heaven, and
will thus preserve its favouring decree."'
4. The king said,'A great saying! But I have an infirmity;-- I love
5. I beg your Majesty,' was the reply, 'not to love small valour.
If a man brandishes his sword, looks fiercely, and says, "How dare
he withstand me?"-- this is the valour of a common man, who can be the
opponent only of a single individual. I beg your Majesty to greaten it.
6. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"The king blazed with anger,
And he marshalled his hosts,
To stop the march to Chü,
To consolidate the prosperity of Châu,
To meet the expectations of the nation."
This was the valour of king Wan. King Wan, in one
burst of his anger, gave repose to all the people of the kingdom.
7. 'In the Book of History it is said, "Heaven having produced the
inferior people, made for them rulers and teachers, with the purpose that
they should be assisting to God, and therefore distinguished them
throughout the four quarters of the land. Whoever are offenders, and
whoever are innocent, here am I to deal with them. How dare any under
heaven give indulgence to their refractory wills?" There was one man
pursuing a violent and disorderly course in the kingdom, and king Wû
was ashamed of it. This was the valour of king Wû. He also, by one
display of his anger, gave repose to all the people of the kingdom.
8. 'Let now your Majesty also, in one burst of anger, give repose to all
the people of the kingdom. The people are only afraid that your Majesty
does not love valour.'
A ruler's prosperity depends on his exercising a restraint upon himself,
and sympathizing with the people in their joys and sorrows.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î had an interview with Mencius in the
Snow palace, and said to him, 'Do men of talents and worth likewise find
pleasure in these things?' Mencius replied, 'They do; and if people
generally are not able to enjoy themselves, they condemn their
2. 'For them, when they cannot enjoy themselves, to condemn their
superiors is wrong, but when the superiors of the people do not make
enjoyment a thing common to the people and themselves, they also do
3. 'When a ruler rejoices in the joy of his people, they also rejoice in
his joy; when he grieves at the sorrow of his people, they also grieve at
his sorrow. A sympathy of joy will pervade the kingdom ; a sympathy of
sorrow will do the same:-- in such a state of things, it cannot be but that
the ruler attain to the royal dignity.
4. 'Formerly, the duke Ching of Ch'î asked the minister Yen,
saying, "I wish to pay a visit of inspection to Chwan-fû, and
Cbâo-wû, and then to bend my course southward along the shore,
till I come to Lang-yê. What shall I do that my tour may be fit to be
compared with the visits of inspection made by the ancient sovereigns?"
5. 'The minister Yen replied, "An excellent inquiry! When the Son of
Heaven visited the princes, it was called a tour of inspection, that is, be
surveyed the States under their care. When the princes attended at the
court of the Son of Heaven, it was called a report of office, that is, they
reported their administration of their offices. Thus, neither of the
proceedings was without a purpose. And moreover, in the spring they
examined the ploughing, and supplied any deficiency of seed; in the autumn
they examined the reaping, and supplied any deficiency of yield. There is
the saying of the Hsiâ dynasty,-- If our king do not take his ramble,
what will become of our happiness? If our king do not make his excursion,
what will become of our help? That ramble, and that excursion, were a
pattern to the princes.
6. '"Now, the state of things is different.-- A host marches in
attendance on the ruler, and stores of provisions are consumed. The hungry
are deprived of their food, and there is no rest for those who are called
to toil. Maledictions are uttered by one to another with eyes askance, and
the people proceed to the commission of wickedness. Thus the royal
ordinances are violated, and the people are oppressed, and the supplies of
food and drink flow away like water. The rulers yield themselves to the
current, or they urge their way against it; they are wild; they are utterly
lost:-- these things proceed to the grief of the inferior princes.
7. '"Descending along with the current, and forgetting to return,
is what I call yielding to it. Pressing up against it, and forgetting to
return, is what I call urging their way against it. Pursuing the chase
without satiety is what I call being wild. Delighting in wine without
satiety is what I call being lost.
8. '"The ancient sovereigns had no pleasures to which they gave
themselves as on the flowing stream; no doings which might be so
characterized as wild and lost.
9. '"It is for you, my prince, to pursue your course."'
10. 'The duke Ching was pleased. He issued a proclamation throughout his
State, and went out and occupied a shed in the borders. From that time he
began to open his granaries to supply the wants of the people, and calling
the Grand music-master, he said to him-- "Make for me music to suit a
prince and his minister pleased with each other." And it was then that the
Chî-shâo and Chio-shâo were made, in the words to which
it was said, "Is it a fault to restrain one's prince?" He who restrains his
prince loves his prince.'
True royal government will assuredly raise to the supreme dignity, and
neither greed of wealth, nor love of woman, need interfere with its
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î said, 'People all tell me to pull
down and remove the Hall of Distinction. Shall I pull it down, or stop the
movement for that object?'
2. Mencius replied, 'The Hall of Distinction is a Hall appropriate to
the sovereigns. If your Majesty wishes to practise the true royal
government, then do not pull it down.'
3. The king said, 'May I hear from you what the true royal government
is?' 'Formerly,' was the reply, 'king Wan's government of Ch'î was as
follows:-- The husbandmen cultivated for the government one-ninth of the
land; the descendants of officers were salaried; at the passes and in the
markets, strangers were inspected, but goods were not taxed: there were no
prohibitions respecting the ponds and weirs; the wives and children of
criminals were not involved in their guilt. There were the old and
wifeless, or widowers; the old and husbandless, or widows; the old and
childless, or solitaries ; the young and fatherless, or orphans:-- these
four classes are the most destitute of the people, and have none to whom
they can tell their wants, and king Wan, in the institution of his
government with its benevolent action, made them the first objects of his
regard, as it is said in the Book of Poetry,
"The rich may get through life well;
But alas! for the miserable and solitary!"'
4. The king said, 'O excellent words!' Mencius said, 'Since your Majesty
deems them excellent, why do you not practise them?' 'I have an infirmity,'
said the king; 'I am fond of wealth.' The reply was, 'Formerly,
Kung-lîu was fond of wealth. It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"He reared his ricks, and filled his granaries,
He tied up dried provisions and grain,
In bottomless bags, and sacks,
That he might gather his people together, and glorify his State.
With bows and arrows all-displayed,
With shields, and spears, and battle-axes, large and small,
He commenced his march."
In this way those who remained in their old seat had
their ricks and granaries, and those who marched had their bags of
provisions. It was not till after this that he thought he could begin his
march. If your Majesty loves wealth, give the people power to gratify the
same feeling, and what difficulty will there be in your attaining the royal
5. The king said, 'I have an infirmity; I am fond of beauty.' The reply
was, 'Formerly, king T'âi was fond of beauty, and loved his wife. It is
said in the Book of Poetry,
Came in the morning, galloping his horse,
By the banks of the western waters,
As far as the foot of Ch'î hill,
Along with the lady of Chiang;
They came and together chose the site for their settlement."
At that time, in the seclusion of the house, there were
no dissatisfied women, and abroad, there were no unmarried men. If your
Majesty loves beauty, let the people be able to gratify the same feeling,
and what difficulty will there be in your attaining the royal sway?'
Bringing home his bad government to the king of Ch'î.
1. Mencius said to the king Hsüan of Ch'î, 'Suppose that one
of your Majesty's ministers were to entrust his wife and children to the
care of his friend, while he himself went into Ch'û to travel, and
that, on his return, he should find that the friend had let his wife and
children suffer from cold and hunger;-- how ought he to deal with him?' The
king said, 'He should cast him off.'
2. Mencius proceeded, 'Suppose that the chief criminal judge could not
regulate the officers under him, how would you deal with him?' The king
said, 'Dismiss him.'
3. Mencius again said, 'If within the four borders of your kingdom there
is not good government, what is to be done?' The king looked to the right
and left, and spoke of other matters.
The care to be employed by a prince in the employment of ministers; and
their relation to himself and the stability of the kingdom.
1. Mencius, having an interview with the king Hsüan of Ch'î,
said to him, 'When men speak of "an ancient kingdom," it is not meant thereby
that it has lofty trees in it, but that it has ministers sprung from
families which have been noted in it for generations. Your Majesty has no
intimate ministers even. Those whom you advanced yesterday are gone to-day,
and you do not know it.'
2. The king said, 'How shall I know that they have not ability, and so
avoid employing them at all?'
3. The reply was, 'The ruler of a State advances to office men of talents
and virtue only as a matter of necessity. Since he will thereby cause the
low to overstep the honourable, and distant to overstep his near relatives,
ought he to do so but with caution?
4. 'When all those about you say,-- "This is a man of talents and
worth," you may not therefore believe it. When your great officers all
say,-- "This is a man of talents and virtue," neither may you for that
believe it. When all the people say,-- "This is a man of talents and
virtue," then examine into the case, and when you find that the man is
such, employ him. When all those about you say,-- "This man won't do,"
don't listen to them. When all your great officers say,-- "This man won't
do," don't listen to them. When the people all sav,-- "This man won't do,"
then examine into the case, and when you find that the man won't do, send
5. 'When all those about you say,-- "This man deserves death," don't
listen to them. When all your great officers say,-- "This man deserves
death," don't listen to them. When the people all say,"This man deserves
death," then inquire into the case, and when you see that the man deserves
death, put him to death. In accordance with this we have the saying, "The
people killed him."
6. 'You must act in this way in order to be the parent of the
Killing a sovereign is not necessarily rebellion or murder.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, saying, 'Was it so,
that T'ang banished Chieh, and that king Wû smote Châu?'
Mencius replied, 'It is so in the records.'
2. The king said, 'May a minister then put his sovereign to death?'
3. Mencius said, 'He who outrages the benevolence proper to his nature,
is called a robber; he who outrages righteousness, is called a ruffian. The
robber and ruffian we call a mere fellow. I have heard of the cutting off
of the fellow Châu, but I have not heard of the putting a sovereign
to death, in his case.'
The absurdity of a ruler's not acting according to the counsel of the
men of talents and virtue, whom he calls to aid in his government, but
requiring them to follow his ways.
1. Mencius, having an interview with the king Hsüan of Ch'î,
said to him, 'If you are going to build a large mansion, you will surely
cause the Master of the workmen to look out for large trees, and when he
has found such large trees, you will be glad, thinking that they will
answer for the intended object. Should the workmen hew them so as to make
them too small, then your Majesty will be angry, thinking that they will
not answer for the purpose. Now, a man spends his youth in learning the
principles of right government, and, being grown up to vigour, he wishes to
put them in practice;-- if your Majesty says to him, "For the present put
aside what you have learned, and follow me," what shall we say?
2. 'Here now you have a gem unwrought, in the stone. Although it may be
worth 240,000 taels, you will surely employ a lapidary to cut and polish
it. But when you come to the government of the State, then you say,-- "For
the present put aside what you have learned, and follow me." How is it that
you herein act so differently from your conduct in calling in the lapidary
to cut the gem?'
The disposal of kingdoms rests with the minds of the people.
1. The people of Ch'î attacked Yen, and conquered it.
2. The king Hsüan asked, saying, 'Some tell me not to take
possession of it for myself, and some tell me to take possession of it. For
a kingdom of ten thousand chariots, attacking another of ten thousand
chariots, to complete the conquest of it in fifty days, is an achievement
beyond mere human strength. If I do not take possession of it, calamities
from Heaven will surely come upon me. What do you say to my taking
possession of it?'
3. Mencius replied, 'If the people of Yen will be pleased with your taking
possession of it, then do so.-- Among the ancients there was one who acted on
this principle, namely king Wû. If the people of Yen will not be pleased
with your taking possession of it, then do not do so.-- Among the ancients
there was one who acted on this principle, namely king Wan.
4. 'When, with all the strength of your country of ten thousand
chariots, you attacked another country of ten thousand chariots, and the
people brought baskets of rice and vessels of congee, to meet your
Majesty's host, was there any other reason for this but that they hoped to
escape out of fire and water ? If you make the water more deep and the fire
more fierce, they will in like manner make another revolution.'
Ambition and avarice only make enemies and bring disasters. Safety and
prosperity lie in a benevolent government.
1. The people of Ch'î, having smitten Yen, took possession of it,
and upon this, the princes of the various States deliberated together, and
resolved to deliver Yen from their power. The king Hsüan said to
Mencius, 'The princes have formed many plans to attack me:-- how shall I
prepare myself for them?' Mencius replied, 'I have heard of one who with
seventy lî exercised all the functions of government throughout the
kingdom. That was T'ang. I have never heard of a prince with a thousand
lî standing in fear of others.'
2. 'It is said in the Book of History, As soon as T'ang began his work
of executing justice, he commenced with Ko. The whole kingdom had
confidence in him. When he pursued his work in the east, the rude tribes on
the west murmured. So did those on the north, when he was engaged in the
south. Their cry was-- "Why does he put us last?" Thus, the people looked
to him, as we look in a time of great drought to the clouds and rainbows.
The frequenters of the markets stopped not. The husbandmen made no change
in their operations. While he punished their rulers, he consoled the
people. His progress was like the falling of opportune rain, and the people
were delighted. It is said again in the Book of History, "We have waited
for our prince long; the prince's coming will be our reviving!"
3. 'Now the ruler of Yen was tyrannizing over his people, and your
Majesty went and punished him. The people supposed that you were going to
deliver them out of the water and the fire, and brought baskets of rice and
vessels of congee, to meet your Majesty's host. But you have slain their
fathers and elder brothers, and put their sons and younger brothers in
confinement. You have pulled down the ancestral temple of the State, and
are removing to Ch'î its precious vessels. How can such a course be
deemed proper? The rest of the kingdom is indeed jealously afraid of the
strength of Ch'î; and now, when with a doubled territory you do not
put in practice a benevolent government;-- it is this which sets the arms
of the kingdom in in motion.
4. 'If your Majesty will make haste to issue an ordinance, restoring
your captives, old and young, stopping the removal of the precious vessels,
and saying that, after consulting with the people of Yen, you will appoint
them a ruler, and withdraw from the country;-- in this way you may still be
able to stop the threatened attack.'
The affections of the people can only be secured through a benevolent
government. As they are dealt with by their superiors, so will they deal
1. There had been a brush between Tsâu and Lû, when the duke
Mû asked Mencius, saying,'Of my officers there were killed
thirty-three men, and none of the people would die in their defence. Though
I sentenced them to death for their conduct, it is impossible to put such a
multitude to death. If I do not put them to death, then there is the crime
unpunished of their looking angrily on at the death of their officers, and
not saving them. How is the exigency of the case to be met?'
2. Mencius replied, 'In calamitous years and years of famine, the old
and weak of your people, who have been found lying in the ditches and
water-channels, and the able-bodied who have been scattered about to the
four quarters, have amounted to several thousands. All the while, your
granaries, 0 prince, have been stored with grain, and your treasuries and
arsenals have been full, and not one of your officers has told you of the
distress. Thus negligent have the superiors in your State been, and cruel
to their inferiors. The philosopher Tsang said, "Beware, beware. What
proceeds from you, will return to you again." Now at length the people have
paid back the conduct of their officers to them. Do not you, 0 prince,
3. 'If you will put in practice a benevolent government, this people
will love you and all above them, and will die for their officers.'
A prince should depend on himself, and not rely on, or try to propitiate,
1. The duke Wan of T'ang asked Mencius, saying, 'T'ang is a small
kingdom, and lies between Ch'î and Ch'û. Shall I serve
Ch'î? Or shall I serve Chû?'
2. Mencius replied, 'This plan which you propose is beyond me. If you will
have me counsel you, there is one thing I can suggest. Dig deeper your
moats; build higher your walls; guard them as well as your people. In case
of attack, be prepared to die in your defence, and have the people so that
they will not leave you;-- this is a proper course.
A prince, threatened by his neighbors, will find his best defence and
consolation in doing what is good and right.
1. The duke Wan of T'ang asked Mencius, saying, 'The people of
Ch'î are going to fortify Hsieh. The movement occasions me great
alarm. What is the proper course for me to take in the case?'
2. Mencius replied, 'Formerly, when king T'âi dwelt in Pin, the
barbarians of the north were continually making incursions upon it. He
therefore left it, went to the foot of mount Ch'î, and there took up
his residence. He did not take that situation, as having selected it. It
was a matter of necessity with him.
3. 'If you do good, among your descendants, in after generations, there
shall be one who will attain to the royal dignity. A prince lays the
foundation of the inheritance, and hands down the beginning which he has
made, doing what may be continued by his successors. As to the
accomplishment of the great result, that is with Heaven. What is that
Ch'î to you, 0 prince? Be strong to do good. That is all your
Two courses open to a prince pressed by his enemies;-- flight or death.
1. The duke Wan of T'ang asked Mencius, saying, 'T'ang is a small State.
Though I do my utmost to serve those large kingdoms on either side of it,
we cannot escape suffering from them. What course shall I take that we may
do so?' Mencius replied, 'Formerly, when king T'âi dwelt in Pin, the
barbarians of the north were constantly making incursions upon it. He
served them with skins and silks, and still he suffered from them. He
served them with dogs and horses, and still he suffered from them. He
served them with pearls and gems, and still he suffered from them. Seeing
this, he assembled the old men, and announced to them, saying, "What the
barbarians want is my territory. I have heard this,-- that a ruler does not
injure his people with that wherewith he nourishes them. My children, why
should you be troubled about having no prince? I will leave this."
Accordingly, he left Pin, crossed the mountain Liang, built a town at the
foot of mount Ch'î, and dwelt there. The people of Pin said, "He is a
benevolent man. We must not lose him." Those who followed him looked like
crowds hastening to market.
2. 'On the other hand, some say, "The kingdom is a thing to be kept
from generation to generation. One individual cannot undertake to dispose
of it in his own person. Let him be prepared to die for it. Let him not
3. 'I ask you, prince, to make your election between these two
A man's way in life is ordered by heaven. The instrumentality of other
men is only subordinate.
1. The duke P'ing of Lû was about to leave his palace, when his
favourite, one Tsang Ts'ang, made a request to him, saying, 'On other days,
when you have gone out, you have given instructions to the officers as to
where you were going. But now, the horses have been put to the carriage,
and the officers do not yet know where you are going. I venture to ask.'
The duke said, 'I am going to see the scholar Mang.' 'How is this?' said
the other. 'That you demean yourself, prince, in paying the honour of the
first visit to a common man, is, I suppose, because you think that he is a
man of talents and virtue. By such men the rules of ceremonial proprieties
and right are observed. But on the occasion of this Mang's second mourning,
his observances exceeded those of the former. Do not go to see him, my
prince.' The duke said, 'I will not.'
2. The officer Yo-chang entered the court, and had an audience. He said,
'Prince, why have you not gone to see Mang K'o?' the duke said, 'One told
me that, on the occasion of the scholar Mang's second mourning, his
observances exceeded those of the former. It is on that account that I have
not gone to see him.' 'How is this!' answered Yo-chang. 'By what you call
"exceeding," you mean, I suppose, that, on the first occasion, he used the
rites appropriate to a scholar, and, on the second, those appropriate to a
great officer; that he first used three tripods, and afterwards five
tripods.' The duke said, 'No; I refer to the greater excellence of the
coffin, the shell, the grave-clothes, and the shroud.' Yo-chAng said, 'That
cannot be called "exceeding." That was the difference between being poor
and being rich.'
3. After this, Yo-chang saw Mencius, and said to him, 'I told the prince
about you, and he was consequently coming to see you, when one of his
favourites, named Tsang Ts'ang, stopped him, and therefore he did not come
according to his purpose.' Mencius said, 'A man's advancement is effected,
it may be, by others, and the stopping him is, it may be, from the efforts
of others. But to advance a man or to stop his advance is really beyond the
power of other men. My not finding in the prince of Lû a ruler who
would confide in me, and put my counsels into practice, is from Heaven. How
could that scion of the Tsang family cause me not to find the ruler that
would suit me?'
Book II, Part I: Kung-sun Ch'au
While Mencius wished to see a true royal government and sway in the
kingdom, and could easily have realized it, from the peculiar circumstances
of the time, he would not, to do so, have had recourse to any ways
inconsistent with its ideas.
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked Mencius, saying, 'Master, if you were to
obtain the ordering of the government in Ch'î, could you promise
yourself to accomplish anew such results as those realized by Kwan Chung
2. Mencius said, 'You are indeed a true man of Ch'î. You know
about Kwan Chung and Yen, and nothing more,
3. 'Some one asked Tsang Hsî, saying, "Sir, to which do you give
the superiority,-- to yourself or to Tsze-lû?" Tsang Hsî looked
uneasy, and said, "He was an object of veneration to my grandfather."
"Then," pursued the other, "Do you give the superiority to yourself or to
Kwan Chung?" Tsang Hsî, flushed with anger and displeased, said, "How
dare you compare me with Kwan Chung? Considering how entirely Kwan Chung
possessed the confidence of his prince, how long he enjoyed the direction
of the government of the State, and how low, after all, was what he
accomplished,-- how is it that you liken me to him?"
4. 'Thus,' concluded Mencius, 'Tsang Hsî would not play Kwan Chung,
and is it what you desire for me that I should do so?'
5. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Kwan Chung raised his prince to be the
leader of all the other princes, and Yen made his prince illustrious, and
do you still think it would not be enough for you to do what they did?'
6. Mencius answered, 'To raise Ch'î to the royal dignity would be
as easy as it is to turn round the hand.'
7. 'So!' returned the other. 'The perplexity of your disciple is hereby
very much increased. There was king Wan, moreover, with all the virtue
which belonged to him; and who did not die till he had reached a hundred
years:-- and still his influence had not penetrated throughout the kingdom.
It required king Wû and the duke of Châu to continue his
course, before that influence greatly prevailed. Now you say that the royal
dignity might be so easily obtained:-- is king Wan then not a sufficient
object for imitation?'
8. Mencius said, 'How can king Wan be matched? From T'ang to
Wû-ting there had appeared six or seven worthy and sage sovereigns.
The kingdom had been attached to Yin for a long time, and this length of
time made a change difficult. Wû-ting had all the princes coming to
his court, and possessed the kingdom as if it had been a thing which he
moved round in his palm. Then, Châu was removed from Wû-ting by
no great interval of time. There were still remaining some of the ancient
families and of the old manners, of the influence also which had emanated
from the earlier sovereigns, and of their good government. Moreover, there
were the viscount of Wei and his second son, their Royal Highnesses
Pî-kan and the viscount of Ch'î, and Kâo-ko, all men of
ability and virtue, who gave their joint assistance to Châu in his
government. In consequence of these things, it took a long time for him to
lose the throne. There was not a foot of ground which he did not possess.
There was not one of all the people who was not his subject. So it was on
his side, and king Wan at his beginning had only a territory of one hundred
square lî. On all these accounts, it was difficult for him
immediately to attain to the royal dignity.
9. 'The people of Ch'î have a saying-- "A man may have wisdom and
discernment, but that is not like embracing the favourable opportunity. A
man may have instruments of husbandry, but that is not like waiting for the
farming seasons." The present time is one in which the royal dignity may be
10. 'In the flourishing periods of the Hsiâ, Yin, and Châu
dynasties, the royal domain did not exceed a thousand lî, and
Ch'î embraces so much territory. Cocks crow and dogs bark to one
another, all the way to the four borders of the State:-- so Ch'î
possesses the people. No change is needed for the enlarging of its
territory: no change is needed for the collecting of a population. If its
ruler will put in practice a benevolent government, no power will be able
to prevent his becoming sovereign.
11. 'Moreover, never was there a time farther removed than the present
from the rise of a true sovereign: never was there a time when the
sufferings of the people from tyrannical government were more intense than
the present. The hungry readily partake of any food, and the thirsty of any
12. 'Confucius said, "The flowing progress of virtue is more rapid than
the transmission of royal orders by stages and couriers."
13. 'At the present time, in a country of ten thousand chariots, let
benevolent government be put in practice, and the people will be delighted
with it, as if they were relieved from hanging by the heels. With half the
merit of the ancients, double their achievements is sure to be realized. It
is only at this time that such could be the case.'
That Mencius had attained to an unperturbed mind; that the means by
which he had done so was his knowledge of words and the nourishment of his
passion-nature; and that in this he was a follower of Confucius.
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked Mencius, saying, 'Master, if you were to be
appointed a high noble and the prime minister of Ch'î, so as to be able
to carry your principles into practice, though you should thereupon raise
the ruler to the headship of all the other princes, or even to the royal
dignity, it would not be to be wondered at.-- In such a position would your
mind be perturbed or not?' Mencius replied, 'No. At forty, I attained to an
2. Ch'âu said, 'Since it is so with you, my Master, you are far
beyond Mang Pan.' 'The mere attainment,' said Mencius, 'is not difficult.
The scholar Kâo had attained to an unperturbed mind at an earlier
period of life than I did.'
3. Ch'âu asked, 'Is there any way to an unperturbed mind?' The
answer was, 'Yes.
4. 'Pî-kung Yû had this way of nourishing his valour:-- He
did not flinch from any strokes at his body. He did not turn his eyes aside
from any thrusts at them. He considered that the slightest push from any
one was the same as if he were beaten before the crowds in the
market-place, and that what he would not receive from a common man in his
loose large garments of hair, neither should he receive from a prince of
ten thousand chariots. He viewed stabbing a prince of ten thousand chariots
just as stabbing a fellow dressed in cloth of hair. He feared not any of
all the princes. A bad word addressed to him be always returned.
5. 'Mang Shih-shê had this way of nourishing his valour:-- He
said, "I look upon not conquering and conquering in the same way. To
measure the enemy and then advance; to calculate the chances of victory and
then engage:-- this is to stand in awe of the opposing force. How can I
make certain of conquering? I can only rise superior to all fear."
6. 'Mang Shih-shê resembled the philosopher Tsang. Pî-kung
Yû resembled Tsze-hsiâ. I do not know to the valour of which of
the two the superiority should be ascribed, but yet Mang Shih-shê
attended to what was of the greater importance.
7. 'Formerly, the philosopher Tsang said to Tsze-hsiang, "Do you love
valour? I heard an account of great valour from the Master. It speaks
thus:-- 'If, on self-examination, I find that I am not upright, shall I not
be in fear even of a poor man in his loose garments of hair-cloth? If, on
self-examination, I find that I am upright, I will go forward against
thousands and tens of thousands.'"
8. Yet, what Mang Shih-shê maintained, being merely his physical
energy, was after all inferior to what the philosopher Tsang maintained,
which was indeed of the most importance.'
9. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'May I venture to ask an explanation from
you, Master, of how you maintain an unperturbed mind, and how the
philosopher Kâo does the same?' Mencius answered,'Kâo says,--
"What is not attained in words is not to be sought for in the mind; what
produces dissatisfaction in the mind, is not to be helped by
passion-effort." This last,-- when there is unrest in the mind, not to seek
for relief from passion-effort, may be conceded. But not to seek in the
mind for what is not attained in words cannot be conceded. The will is the
leader of the passion-nature. The passion-nature pervades and animates the
body. The will is first and chief, and the passion-nature is subordinate to
it. Therefore I say,-- Maintain firm the will, and do no violence to the
10. Ch'âu observed, 'Since you say-- "The will is chief, and the
passion-nature is subordinate," how do you also say, "Maintain firm the
will, and do no violence to the passion-nature?"' Mencius replied, 'When
it is the will alone which is active, it moves the passion-nature. When it
is the passion-nature alone which is active, it moves the will. For
instance now, in the case of a man falling or running, that is from the
passion-nature, and yet it moves the mind.'
11. 'I venture to ask,' said Ch'âu again, 'wherein you, Master,
surpass Kâo.' Mencius told him, 'I understand words. I am skilful in
nourishing my vast, flowing passion-nature.'
12. Ch'âu pursued, 'I venture to ask what you mean by your vast,
flowing passion-nature!' The reply was, 'It is difficult to describe
13. 'This is the passion-nature:-- It is exceedingly great, and
exceedingly strong. Being nourished by rectitude, and sustaining no injury,
it fills up all between heaven and earth.
14. 'This is the passion-nature:-- It is the mate and assistant of
righteousness and reason. Without it, man is in a state of starvation.
15. 'It is produced by the accumulation of righteous deeds; it is not to
be obtained by incidental acts of righteousness. If the mind does not feel
complacency in the conduct, the nature becomes starved. I therefore said,
"Kâo has never understood righteousness, because he makes it
16. 'There must be the constant practice of this righteousness, but
without the object of thereby nourishing the passion-nature. Let not the
mind forget its work, but let there be no assisting the growth of that
nature. Let us not be like the man of Sung. There was a man of Sung, who
was grieved that his growing corn was not longer, and so he pulled it up.
Having done this, he returned home, looking very stupid, and said to his
people, "I am tired to-day. I have been helping the corn to grow long." His
son ran to look at it, and found the corn all withered. There are few in
the world, who do not deal with their passion-nature, as if they were
assisting the corn to grow long. Some indeed consider it of no benefit to
them, and let it alone:-- they do not weed their corn. They who assist it
to grow long, pull out their corn. What they do is not only of no benefit
to the nature, but it also injures it.'
17. Kung-sun Ch'âu further asked, 'What do you mean by saying that
you understand whatever words you hear?' Mencius replied, 'When words are
one-sided, I know how the mind of the speaker is clouded over. When words
are extravagant, I know how the mind is fallen and sunk. When words are
all-depraved, I know how the mind has departed from principle. When words
are evasive, I know how the mind is at its wit's end. These evils growing
in the mind, do injury to government, and, displayed in th government, are
hurtful to the conduct of affairs. When a Sage shall again arise, he will
certainly follow my words.'
18. On this Ch'âu observed, 'Tsâi Wo and Tsze-kung were
skilful in speaking. Zan Niû, the disciple Min, and Yen Yüan,
while their words were good, were distinguished for their virtuous conduct.
Confucius united the qualities of the disciples in himself, but still he
said, "In the matter of speeches, I am not competent."-- Then, Master, have
you attained to be a Sage?'
19. Mencius said, 'Oh! what words are these? Formerly Tsze-kung asked
Confucius, saying, "Master, are you a Sage?" Confucius answered him, "A
Sage is what I cannot rise to. I learn without satiety, and teach without
being tired." Tsze-kung said, "You learn without satiety:-- that shows your
wisdom. You teach without being tired:-- that shows your benevolence.
Benevolent and wise:-- Master, you ARE a Sage." Now, since Confucius would
not allow himself to be regarded as a Sage, what words were those?'
20. Ch'âu said, 'Formerly, I once heard this:-- Tsze-hsiâ,
Tsze-yû, and Tsze-chang had each one member of the Sage. Zan
Niû, the disciple Min, and Yen Yüan had all the members, but in
small proportions. I venture to ask,-- With which of these are you pleased
to rank yourself?'
21. Mencius replied, 'Let us drop speaking about these, if you
22. Ch'âu then asked, 'What do you say of Po-î and Î
Yin?' 'Their ways were different from mine,' said Mencius. 'Not to serve a
prince whom he did not esteem, nor command a people whom he did not
approve; in a time of good government to take office, and on the occurrence
of confusion to retire:-- this was the way of Po-î. To say-- "Whom
may I not serve? My serving him makes him my ruler. What people may I not
command? My commanding them makes them my people." In a time of good
government to take office, and when disorder prevailed, also to take
office:-- that was the way of Î Yin. When it was proper to go into
office, then to go into it; when it was proper to keep retired from office,
then to keep retired from it; when it was proper to continue in it long,
then to continue in it long - when it was proper to withdraw from it
quickly, then to withdraw quickly:-- that was the way of Confucius. These
were all sages of antiquity, and I have not attained to do what they did.
But what I wish to do is to learn to be like Confucius.'
23. Ch'âu said, 'Comparing Po-î and Î Yin with
Confucius, are they to be placed in the same rank?' Mencius replied, 'No.
Since there were living men until now, there never was another
24. Ch'âu said, 'Then, did they have any points of agreement with
him?' The reply was,-- 'Yes. If they had been sovereigns over a hundred
lî of territory, they would, all of them, have brought all the
princes to attend in their court, and have obtained the throne. And none of
them, in order to obtain the throne, would have committed one act of
unrighteousness, or put to death one innocent person. In those things they
agreed with him.'
25. Ch'âu said, 'I venture to ask wherein he differed from them.'
Mencius replied, 'Tsâi Wo, Tsze-kung, and Yû Zo had wisdom
sufficient to know the sage. Even had they been ranking themselves low,
they would not have demeaned themselves to flatter their favourite.
26. 'Now, Tsâi Wo said, "According to my view of our Master, he
was far superior to Yâo and Shun."
27. 'Tsze-kung said, "By viewing the ceremonial ordinances of a prince,
we know the character of his government. By hearing his music, we know the
character of his virtue. After the lapse of a hundred ages I can arrange,
according to their merits, the kings of a hundred ages;-- not one of them
can escape me. From the birth of mankind till now, there has never been
another like our Master."
28. 'Yû Zo said, "Is it only among men that it is so? There is the
Ch'î-lin among quadrupeds, the Fang-hwang among birds, the T'âi
mountain among mounds and ant-hills, and rivers and seas among rain-pools.
Though different in degree, they are the same in kind. So the sages among
mankind are also the same in kind. But they stand out from their fellows,
and rise above the level, and from the birth of mankind till now, there
never has been one so complete as Confucius."'
The difference between a chieftain of the princes and a sovereign of the
kingdom; and between submission secured by force and that produced by
1. Mencius said, 'He who, using force, makes a pretence to benevolence
is the leader of the princes. A leader of the princes requires a large
kingdom. He who, using virtue, practises benevolence is the sovereign of
the kingdom. To become the sovereign of the kingdom, a prince need not wait
for a large kingdom. T'ang did it with only seventy lî, and king Wan
with only a hundred.
2. 'When one by force subdues men, they do not submit to him in heart.
They submit, because their strength is not adequate to resist. When one
subdues men by virtue, in their hearts' core they are pleased, and
sincerely submit, as was the case with the seventy disciples in their
submission to Confucius. What is said in the Book of Poetry,
"From the west, from the east,
From the south, from the north,
There was not one who thought of refusing submission,"
is an illustration of this.'
1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence brings glory to a prince, and the opposite
of it brings disgrace. For the princes of the present day to hate disgrace
and yet to live complacently doing what is not benevolent, is like hating
moisture and yet living in a low situation.
2. 'If a prince hates disgrace, the best course for him to pursue, is to
esteem virtue and honour virtuous scholars, giving the worthiest among them
places of dignity, and the able offices of trust. When throughout his
kingdom there is leisure and rest from external troubles, let him, taking
advantage of such a season, clearly digest the principles of his government
with its legal sanctions, and then even great kingdoms will be constrained
to stand in awe of him.
3. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"Before the heavens were dark w1th rain,
I gathered the bark from the roots of the mulberry trees,
And wove it closely to form the window and door of my nest;
Now, I thought, ye people below,
Perhaps ye will not dare to insult me."
Confucius said, "Did not he who made this ode
understand the way of governing?" If a prince is able rightly to govern his
kingdom, who will dare to insult him?
4. 'But now the princes take advantage of the time when throughout their
kingdoms there is leisure and rest from external troubles, to abandon
themselves to pleasure and indolent indifference;-- they in fact seek for
calamities for themselves.
5. 'Calamity and happiness in all cases are men's own seeking.
6. 'This is illustrated by what is said in the Book of Poetry,--
Be always studious to be in harmony with the ordinances of God,
So you will certainly get for yourself much happiness;"
and by the passage ofthe Tâi Chiah,-- "When
Heaven sends down calamities, it is still possible to escape from them;
when we occasion the calamities ourselves, it is not possible any longer to
Various points of true royal government neglected by the princes of
Mencius's time, attention to which would surely carry any one of them to the
1. Mencius said, 'If a ruler give honour to men of talents and virtue
and employ the able, so that offices shall all be filled by individuals of
distinction and mark;-- then all the scholars of the kingdom will be
pleased, and wish to stand in his court.
2. 'If, in the market-place of his capital, he levy a ground-rent on the
shops but do not tax the goods, or enforce the proper regulations without
levying a ground-rent;-- then all the traders of the kingdom will be
pleased, and wish to store their goods in his market-place.
3. 'If, at his frontier-passes, there be an inspection of persons, but no
taxes charged on goods or other articles, then all the travellers of the
kingdom will be pleased, and wish to make their tours on his roads.
4. 'If he require that the husbandmen give their mutual aid to cultivate
the public feld, and exact no other taxes from them;-- then all the
husbandmen of the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to plough in his
5. 'If from the occupiers of the shops in his market-place he do not exact
the fine of the individual idler, or of the hamlet's quota of cloth, then
all the people of the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to come and be his
6. 'If a ruler can truly practise these five things, then the people in
the neighbouring kingdoms will look up to him as a parent. From the first
birth of mankind till now, never has any one led children to attack their
parent, and succeeded in his design. Thus, such a ruler will not have an
enemy in all the kingdom, and he who has no enemy in the kingdom is the
minister of Heaven. Never has there been a ruler in such a case who did not
attain to the royal dignity.'
That benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and knowledge belong to man
as naturally as his four limbs, and may easily be exercised.
1. Mencius said, 'All men have a mind which cannot bear to see
the sufferings of others.
2. 'The ancient kings had this commiserating mind, and they, as a matter of
course, had likewise a commiserating government. When with a commiserating
mind was practised a commiserating government, to rule the kingdom was as
easy a matter as to make anything go round in the palm.
3. 'When I say that all men have a mind which cannot bear
to see the sufferings of others, my meaning may be illustrated thus:--
even now-a-days, if men suddenly see a child about to fall into a well,
they will without exception experience a feeling of alarm and distress.
They will feel so, not as a ground on which they may gain the
favour of the child's parents, nor as a ground on which they may
seek the praise of their neighbours and friends, nor from a dislike
to the reputation of having been unmoved by such a thing.
4. 'From this case we may perceive that the feeling of commiseration is
essential to man, that the feeling of shame and dislike is essential to
man, that the feeling of modesty and complaisance is essential to man, and
that the feeling of approving and disapproving is essential to man.
5. 'The feeling of commiseration is the principle of benevolence.
The feeling of shame and dislike is the principle of righteousness. The
feeling of modesty and complaisance is the principle of propriety. The
feeling of approving and disapproving is the principle of knowledge.
6. 'Men have these four principles just as they have their four limbs.
When men, having these four principles, yet say of themselves that they
cannot develop them, they play the thief with themselves, and he who says
of his prince that he cannot develop them plays the thief with his
7. 'Since all men have these four principles in themselves, let them
know to give them all their development and completion, and the issue will
be like that of fire which has begun to burn, or that of a spring which has
begun to find vent. Let them have their complete development, and they will
suffice to love and protect all within the four seas. Let them be denied
that development, and they will not suffice for a man to serve his parents
An exhortation to benevolence from the disgrace which must attend the
want of it, like the disgrace of a man who does not know his profession.
1. Mencius said, 'Is the arrow-maker less benevolent than the
maker of armour of defence? And yet, the arrow-maker's only fear is lest
men should not be hurt, and the armour-maker's only fear is lest men should
be hurt. So it is with the priest and the coffin-maker. The choice of a
profession, therefore, is a thing in which great caution is required.
2. 'Confucius said, "It is virtuous manners which constitute the
excellence of a neighbourhood. If a man, in selecting a residence, do not
fix on one where such prevail, how can he be wise?" Now, benevolence is the
most honourable dignity conferred by Heaven, and the quiet home in which
man should awell. Since no one can hinder us from being so, if yet we are
not benevolent;-- this is being not wise.
3. 'From the want of benevolence and the want of wisdom will ensue the
entire absence of propriety and righteousness;-- he who is in such a case
must be the servant of other men. To be the servant of men and yet ashamed
of such servitude, is like a bowmaker's being ashamed to make bows, or an
arrow-maker's being ashamed to make arrows.
4. 'If he be ashamed of his case, his best course is to practise
5. 'The man who would be benevolent is like the archer. The archer adjusts
himself and then shoots. If he misses, he does not murmur against those who
surpass himself. He simply turns round and seeks the cause of his failure in
How sages and worthies delighted in what is good.
1. Mencius said, 'When any one told Tsze-lû that he had a fault,
2. 'When Yü heard good words, he bowed to the speaker.
3. 'The great Shun had a still greater delight in what was good.
He regarded virtue as the common property of himself and others, giving up
his own way to follow that of others, and delighting to learn from others
to practise what was good.
4. 'From the time when he ploughed and sowed, exercised the potter's art,
and was a fisherman, to the time when he became emperor, he was continually
learning from others.
5. 'To take example from others to practise virtue, is to help them in the
same practice. Therefore, there is no attribute of the superior man greater
than his helping men to practise virtue.'
Pictures of Po-î and Hûi of Liû-hsiâ, and
Mencius's judgment concerning them.
1. Mencius said, 'Po-î would not serve a prince whom he did not
approve, nor associate with a friend whom he did not esteem. He would not
stand in a bad prince's court, nor speak with a bad man. To stand in a bad
prince's court, or to speak with a bad man, would have been to him the same
as to sit with his court robes and court cap amid mire and ashes. Pursuing
the examination of his dislike to what was evil, we find that he thought it
necessary, if he happened to be standing with a villager whose cap was not
rightly adjusted, to leave him with a high air, as if he were going to be
defiled. Therefore, although some of the princes made application to him
with very proper messages, he would not receive their gifts.-- He would not
receive their gifts, counting it inconsistent with his purity to go to
2. 'Hûi of Liû-hsiâ was not ashamed to serve an impure
prince, nor did he think it low to be an inferior officer. When advanced to
employment, he did not conceal his virtue, but made it a point to carry out
his principles. When neglected and left without office, he did not murmur.
When straitened by poverty, he did not grieve. Accordingly, he had a
saying,"You are you, and I am I. Although you stand by my side with breast
and aims bare, or with your body naked, how can you defile me?" Therefore,
self-possessed, he companied with men indifferently, at the same time not
losing himself. When he wished to leave, if pressed to remain in office, he
would remain.-- He would remain in office, when pressed to do so, not
counting it required by his purity to go away.'
3. Mencius said, 'Po-î was narrow-minded, and Hûi of
Liû-hsiâ was wanting in self-respect. The superior man will not
manifest either narrow-mindedness, or the want of self-respect.'
Book II, Part II:
No advantages which a ruler can obtain to exalt him over others are to
be compared with his getting the hearts of men.
1. Mencius said, 'Opportunities of time vouchsafed by Heaven are
not equal to advantages of situation afforded by the Earth, and advantages
of situation afforded by the Earth are not equal to the union arising from
the accord of Men.
2. 'There is a city, with an inner wall of three lî in
circumference, and an outer wall of seven.-- The enemy surround and attack
it, but they are not able to take it. Now, to surround and attack it, there
must have been vouchsafed to them by Heaven the opportunity of time, and in
such case their not taking it is because opportunities of time vouchsafed
by Heaven are not equal to advantages of situation afforded by the
3. 'There is a city, whose walls are distinguished for their height, and
whose moats are distinguished for their depth, where the arms of its
defenders, offensive and defensive, are distinguished for their strength
and sharpness, and the stores of rice and other grain are very large. Yet
it is obliged to be given up and abandoned. This is because advantages of
situation afforded by the Earth are not equal to the union arising from the
accord of Men.
4. 'In accordance with these principles it is said, "A people is bounded
in, not by the limits of dykes and borders; a State is secured, not by the
strengths of mountains and rivers; the kingdom is overawed, not by the
sharpness and strength of arms." He who finds the proper course has many to
assist him. He who loses the proper course has few to assist him. When
this,-- the being assisted by few,-- reaches its extreme point, his own
relations revolt from the prince. When the being assisted by many reaches
its highest point, the whole kingdom becomes obedient to the prince.
5. 'When one to whom the whole kingdom is prepared to be obedient,
attacks those from whom their own relations revolt, what must be the
result? Therefore, the true ruler will prefer not to fight; but if he do
fight, he must overcome.'
How Mencius considered that it was slighting him for a prince to call
him by messengers to go to see him, and the shifts he was put to to get
1. As Mencius was about to go to court to see the king, the king sent a
person to him with this message,-- 'I was wishing to come and see you. But
I have got a cold, and may not expose myself to the wind. In the morning I
will hold my court. I do not know whether you will give me the opportunity
of seeing you then.' Mencius replied, 'Unfortunately, I am unwell, and not
able to go to the court.'
2. Next day, he went out to pay a visit of condolence to some one of the
Tung-kwoh family, when Kung-sun Ch'âu said to him, 'Yesterday, you
declined going to the court on the ground of being unwell, and to-day you
are going to pay a visit of condolence. May this not be regarded as
improper?' 'Yesterday,' said Mencius, 'I was unwell; to-day, I am better:--
why should I not pay this visit?'
3. In the mean time, the king sent a messenger to inquire about his
sickness, and also a physician. Mang Chung replied to them, 'Yesterday,
when the king's order came, he was feeling a little unwell, and could not
go to the court. To-day he was a little better, and hastened to go to
court. I do not know whether he can have reached it by this time or not.'
Having said this, he sent several men to look for Mencius on the way, and
say to him, 'I beg that, before you return home, you will go to the
4. On this, Mencius felt himself compelled to go to Ching Ch'âu's,
and there stop the night. Mr. Ching said to him, 'In the family, there is
the relation of father and son; abroad, there is the relation of prince
and minister. These are the two great relations among men. Between father
and son the ruling principle is kindness. Between prince and minister the
ruling principle is respect. I have seen the respect of the king to you,
Sir, but I have not seen in what way you show respect to him.' Mencius
replied, 'Oh! what words are these? Among the people of Ch'î there is
no one who speaks to the king about benevolence and righteousness. Are they
thus silent because they do not think that benevolence and righteousness
are admirable? No, but in their hearts they say, "This man is not fit to be
spoken with about benevolence and righteousness." Thus they manifest a
disrespect than which there can be none greater. I do not dare to set forth
before the king any but the ways of Yâo and Shun. There is therefore
no man of Ch'î who respects the king so much as I do.'
5. Mr. Ching said, 'Not so. That was not what I meant. In the Book of
Rites it is said, "When a father calls, the answer must be without a
moment's hesitation. When the prince's order calls, the carriage must not
be waited for." You were certainly going to the court, but when you heard
the king's order, then you did not carry your purpose out. This does seem
as if it were not in accordance with that rule of propriety.'
6. Mencius answered him, 'How can you give that meaning to my conduct?
The philosopher Tsang said, "The wealth of Tsin and Ch'û cannot be
equalled. Let their rulers have their wealth:-- I have my benevolence. Let
them have their nobility:-- I have my righteousness. Wherein should I be
dissatisfied as inferior to them?" Now shall we say that these sentiments
are not right? Seeing that the philosopher Tsang spoke them, there is in
them, I apprehend, a real principle.-- In the kingdom there are three
things universally acknowledged to be honourable. Nobility is one of them;
age is one of them; virtue is one of them. In courts, nobility holds the
first place of the three; in villages, age holds the first place; and for
helping one's generation and presiding over the people, the other two are
not equal to virtue. How can the possession of only one of these be
presumed on to despise one who possesses the other two?
7. 'Therefore a prince who is to accomplish great deeds will certainly
have ministers whom he does not call to go to him. When he wishes to
consult with them, he goes to them. The prince who does not honour the
virtuous, and delight in their ways of doing, to this extent, is not worth
having to do with.
8. 'Accordingly, there was the behaviour of T'ang to Î Yin:-- he
first learned of him, and then employed him as his minister; and so without
difficulty he became sovereign. There was the behaviour of the duke Hwan to
Kwan Chung:-- he first learned of him, and then employed him as his
minister; and so without difficulty he became chief of all the
9. 'Now throughout the kingdom, the territories of the princes are of
equal extent, and in their achievements they are on a level. Not one of
them is able to exceed the others. This is from no other reason, but that
they love to make ministers of those whom they teach, and do not love to
make ministers of those by whom they might be taught.
10. 'So did T'ang behave to Î Yin, and the duke Hwan to Kwan
Chung, that they would not venture to call them to go to them. If Kwan
Chung might not be called to him by his prince, how much less may he be
called, who would not play the part of Kwan Chung!'
By what principles Mencius was guided in declining or accepting the
gifts of princes.
1. Ch'an Tsin asked Mencius, saying, 'Formerly, when you were in
Ch'î, the king sent you a present Of 2,400 taels of fine silver, and
you refused to accept it. When you were in Sung, 1,680 taels were sent to
you, which you accepted; and when you were in Hsieh, 1,200 taels were sent,
which you likewise accepted. If your declining to accept the gift in the
first case was right, your accepting it in the latter cases was wrong. If
your accepting it in the latter cases was right, your declining to do so in
the first case was wrong. You must accept, Master, one of these
2. Mencius said, 'I did right in all the cases.
3. 'When I was in Sung, I was about to take a long journey. Travellers
must be provided with what is necessary for their expenses. The prince's
message was, 'A present against travelling-expenses." Why should I have
declined the gift?
4. 'When I was in Hsieh, I was apprehensive for my safety, and taking
measures for my protection. The message was, "I have heard that you are
taking measures to protect yourself, and send this to help you in procuring
arms." Why should I have declined the gift?
5. 'But when I was in Ch'i, I had no occasion for money. To send a man a
gift when he has no occasion for it, is to bribe him. How is it possible
that a superior man should be taken with a bribe?'
How Mencius brought conviction of their faults home to the king and an
officer of Ch'î.
1. Mencius having gone to P'ing-lû, addressed the governor of it,
saying, 'If one of your spearmen should lose his place in the ranks three
times in one day, would you, Sir, put him to death or not?' 'I would not
wait for three times to do so,' was the reply.
2. Mencius said, 'Well then, you, Sir, have likewise lost your place in
the ranks many times. In bad calamitous years, and years of famine, the old
and feeble of your people, who have been found lying in the ditches and
water-channels, and the able-bodied, who have been scattered about to the
four quarters, have amounted to several thousand.' The governor replied,
'That is a state of things in which it does not belong to me Chü-hsin
3. 'Here,' said Mencius, 'is a man who receives charge of the cattle and
sheep of another, and undertakes to feed them for him;-- of course he must
search for pasture-ground and grass for them. If, after searching for
those, he cannot find them, will he return his charge to the owner? or will
he stand by and see them die?' 'Herein,' said the officer, 'I am
4. Another day, Mencius had an audience of the king, and said to him,
'Of the governors of your Majesty's cities I am acquainted with five, but
the only one of them who knows his faults is K'ung Chü-hsin.' He then
repeated the conversation to the king, who said, 'In this matter, I am the
The freedom belonging to Mencius in relation to the measures of the king
of Ch'î from his particular position, as unsalaried.
1. Mencius said to Ch'î Wâ, 'There seemed to be reason in
your declining the governorship of Ling-ch'iû, and requesting to be
appointed chief criminal judge, because the latter office would afford you
the opportunity of speaking your views. Now several months have elapsed,
and have you yet found nothing of which you might speak?'
2. On this, Ch'î Wâ remonstrated on some matter with the
king, and, his counsel not being taken, resigned his office and went
3. The people of Ch'î said, 'In the course which he marked out for
Ch'î Wâ he did well, but we do not know as to the course which
he pursues for himself.'
4. His disciple Kung-tû told him these remarks.
5. Mencius said, 'I have heard that he who is in charge of an office,
when he is prevented from fulfilling its duties, ought to take his
departure, and that he on whom is the responsibility of giving his opinion,
when he finds his words unattended to, ought to do the same. But I am in
charge of no office; on me devolves no duty of speaking out my opinion:--
may not I therefore act freely and without any constraint, either in going
forward or in retiring?'
Mencius's behavior with an unworthy associate.
1. Mencius, occupying the position of a high dignitary in Ch'î,
went on a mission of condolence to T'ang. The king also sent Wang Hwan, the
governor of Kâ, as assistant-commissioner. Wang Hwan, morning and
evening, waited upon Mencius, who, during all the way to T'ang and back,
never spoke to him about the business of their mission.
2. Kung-sun Ch'âu. said to Mencius, 'The position of a high
dignitary of Ch'î is not a small one; the road from Ch'î to
T'ang is not short. How was it that during all the way there and back, you
never spoke to Hwan about the matters of your mission?' Mencius replied,
'There were the proper officers who attended to them. What occasion had I
to speak to him about them?'
That one ought to do his utmost in the burial of his parents;--
illustrated by Mencius's burial of his mother.
1. Mencius went from Ch'î to Lû to bury his mother. On his
return to Ch'î, he stopped at Ying, where Ch'ung Yü begged to
put a question to him, and said, 'Formerly, in ignorance of my
incompetency, you employed me to superintend the making of the coffin. As
you were then pressed by the urgency of the business, I did not venture to
put any question to you. Now, however, I wish to take the liberty to submit
the matter. The wood of the coffin, it appeared to me, was too good.'
2. Mencius replied, 'Anciently, there was no rule for the size of either
the inner or the outer coffin. In middle antiquity, the inner coffin was
made seven inches thick, and the outer one the same. This was done by all,
from the sovereign to the common people, and not simply for the beauty of
the appearance, but because they thus satisfied the natural feelings of
3. 'If prevented by statutory regulations from making their coffins in
this way, men cannot have the feeling of pleasure. If they have not the
money to make them in this way, they cannot have the feeling of pleasure.
When they were not prevented, and had the money, the ancients all used this
style. Why should I alone not do so?
4. 'And moreover, is there no satisfaction to the natural feelings of
a man, in preventing the earth from getting near to the bodies of his
5. 'I have heard that the superior man will not for all the world be
niggardly to his parents.'
Deserved punishment may not be inflicted but by proper authority. A
state or nation may only be smitten by the minister of Heaven.
1. Shan T'ung, on his own impulse, asked Mencius, saying, 'May Yen be
smitten?' Mencius replied, 'It may. Tsze-k'wâi had no right to give
Yen to another man, and Tsze-chih had no right to receive Yen from
Tsze-k'wâi. Suppose there were an officer here, with whom you, Sir,
were pleased, and that, without informing the king, you were privately to
give to him your salary and rank; and suppose that this officer, also
without the king's orders, were privately to receive them from you-- would
such a transaction be allowable? And where is the difference between the
case of Yen and this?'
2. The people of Ch'î smote Yen. Some one asked Mencius, saying,
'Is it really the case that you advised Ch'î to smite Yen?' He
replied, 'No. Shan T'ung asked me whether Yen might be smitten, and I
answered him, "It may." They accordingly went and smote it. If he had asked
me-- "Who may smite it?" I would have answered him, "He who is the minister
of Heaven may smite it." Suppose the case of a murderer, and that one asks
me-- "May this man be put to death?" I will answer him-- "He may." If he
ask me-- "Who may put him to death?" I will answer him, "The chief criminal
judge may put him to death." But now with one Yen to smite another Yen:--
how should I have advised this?'
How Mencius beat down the attempt to argue in excuse of errors and
1. The people of Yen having rebelled, the king of Ch'î said, 'I
feel very much ashamed when I think of Mencius.'
2. Ch'an Chiâ said to him, 'Let not your Majesty be grieved.
Whether does your Majesty consider yourself or Châu-kung the more
benevolent and wise?' The king replied, 'Oh! what words are those?' 'The
duke of Châu,' said Chiâ, 'appointed Kwan-shû to oversee
the heir of Yin, but Kwan-shû with the power of the Yin State
rebelled. If knowing that this would happen he appointed Kwan-shû, he
was deficient in benevolence. If he appointed him, not knowing that it
would happen, he was deficient in knowledge. If the duke of Châu was
not completely benevolent and wise, how much less can your Majesty be
expected to be so! I beg to go and see Mencius, and relieve your Majesty
from that feeling.'
3. Ch'an Chiâ accordingly saw Mencius, and asked him, saying,
'What kind of man was the duke of Châu?' 'An ancient sage,' was the
reply. 'Is it the fact, that he appointed Kwan-shû to oversee the
heir of Yin, and that Kwan-shû with the State of Yin rebelled?' 'It
is.' 'Did the duke of Châu. know that he would rebel, and purposely
appoint him to that office?' Mencius said, 'He did not know.' 'Then, though
a sage, he still fell into error?' 'The duke of Châu,' answered
Mencius, 'was the younger brother. Kwan-shû was his elder brother.
Was not the error of Châu-kung in accordance with what is right?
4. 'Moreover, when the superior men of old had errors, they reformed
them. The superior men of the present time, when they have errors, persist
in them. The errors of the superior men of old were like eclipses of the sun
and moon. All the people witnessed them, and when they had reformed them,
all the people looked up to them with their former admiration. But do the
superior men of the present day only persist in their errors? They go on to
apologize for them likewise.'
Mencius in leaving a country or remaining in it was not influenced by
pecuniary considerations, but by the opportunity denied or accorded to him
of carrying his principles into practice.
1. Mencius gave up his office, and made arrangements for returning
to his native State.
2. The king came to visit him, and said, 'Formerly, I wished to see you,
but in vain. Then, I got the opportunity of being by your side, and all my
court joyed exceedingly along with me. Now again you abandon me, and are
returning home. I do not know if hereafter I may expect to have another
opportunity of seeing you.' Mencius replied, 'I dare not request permission
to visit you at any particular time, but, indeed, it is what I
3. Another day, the king said to the officer Shih, 'I wish to give
Mencius a house, somewhere in the middle of the kingdom, and to support his
disciples with an allowance of 10,000 chung, that all the officers and the
people may have such an example to reverence and imitate. Had you not
better tell him this for me?'
4. Shih took advantage to convey this message by means of the disciple
Ch'an, who reported his words to Mencius.
5. Mencius said, 'Yes; but how should the officer Shih know that the
thing could not be? Suppose that I wanted to be rich, having formerly
declined 100,000 chung, would my now accepting 10,000 be the conduct of one
6. 'Chî-sun said, "A strange man was Tsze-shû Î. He
pushed himself into the service of government. His prince declining to
employ him, he had to retire indeed, but he again schemed that his son or
younger brother should be made a high officer. Who indeed is there of men
but wishes for riches and honour? But he only, among the seekers of these,
tried to monopolize the conspicuous mound.
7. '"Of old time, the market-dealers exchanged the articles which they
had for others which they had not, and simply had certain officers to keep
order among them. It happened that there was a mean fellow, who made it a
point to look out for a conspicuous mound, and get up upon it. Thence he
looked right and left, to catch in his net the whole gain of the market.
The people all thought his conduct mean, and therefore they proceeded to
lay a tax upon his wares. The taxing of traders took its rise from this
How Mencius repelled a man, who, officiously and on his own impulse,
tried to detain him in Ch'î.
1. Mencius, having taken his leave of Ch'î, was passing the night
2. A person who wished to detain him on behalf of the king, came and sat
down, and began to speak to him. Mencius gave him no answer, but leant upon
his stool and slept.
3. The visitor was displeased, and said, 'I passed the night in careful
vigil, before I would venture to speak to you, and you, Master, sleep and
do not listen to me. Allow me to request that I may not again presume to
see you.' Mencius replied, 'Sit down, and I will explain the case clearly
to you. Formerly, if the duke Mû had not kept a person by the side of
Tsze-sze, he could not have induced Tsze-sze to remain with him. If Hsieh
Liû and Shan Hsiang had not had a remembrancer by the side of the
duke Mû, he would not have been able to make them feel at home and
remain with him.
4. 'You anxiously form plans with reference to me, but you do not treat
me as Tsze-sze was treated. Is it you, Sir, who cut me? Or is it I who cut
How Mencius explained his seeming to linger in Ch'î, after he had
resigned his office, and left the court.
1. When Mencius had left Ch'î, Yin Shih spoke about him to others,
saying, 'If he did not know that the king could not be made a T'ang or a
Wû, that showed his want of intelligence. If he knew that he could
not be made such, and came notwithstanding, that shows he was seeking his
own benefit. He came a thousand lî to wait on the king; because he
did not find in him a ruler to suit him, he took his leave, but how
dilatory and lingering was his departure, stopping three nights before he
quitted Châu! I am dissatisfied on account of this.'
2. The disciple Kâo informed Mencius of these remarks.
3. Mencius said, 'How should Yin Shih know me! When I came a thousand
lî to wait on the king, it was what I desired to do. When I went away
because I did not find in him a ruler to suit me, was that what I desired
to do? I felt myself constrained to do it.
4. 'When I stopped three nights before I quitted Châu, in my own
mind I still considered my departure speedy. I was hoping that the king
might change. If the king had changed, he would certainly have recalled
5. 'When I quitted Châu, and the king had not sent after me, then,
and not till then, was my mind resolutely bent on returning to Tsâu.
But, notwithstanding that, how can it be said that I give up the king? The
king, after all, is one who may be made to do what is good. If he were to
use me, would it be for the happiness of the people of Ch'î only ? It
would be for the happiness of the people of the whole kingdom. I am hoping
that the king will change. I am daily hoping for this.
6. 'Am I like one of your little-minded people? They will remonstrate
with their prince, and on their remonstrance not being accepted, they get
angry; and, with their passion displayed in their countenance, they take
their leave, and travel with all their strength for a whole day, before
they will stop for the night.'
7. When Yin Shih heard this explanation, he said, 'I am indeed a small
Mencius's grief at not finding an opportunity to do the good which he
1. When Mencius left Ch'î, Ch'ung Yü questioned him upon the
way, saying, 'Master, you look like one who carries an air of
dissatisfaction in his countenance. But formerly I heard you say-- "The
superior man does not murmur against Heaven, nor grudge against men."'
2. Mencius said, 'That was one time, and this is another.
3. 'It is a rule that a true royal sovereign should arise in the course
of five hundred years, and that during that time there should be men
illustrious in their generation.
4. 'From the commencement of the Châu dynasty till now, more than
seven hundred years have elapsed. Judging numerically, the date is past.
Examining the character of the present time, we might expect the rise of
such individuals in it.
5. 'But Heaven does not yet wish that the kingdom should enjoy
tranquillity and good order. If it wished this, who is there besides me to
bring it about? How should I be otherwise than dissatisfied?'
The reason Mencius's holding an honorary office in Ch'î without
salary, that he wished to be free in his movements.
1. When Mencius left Ch'î, he dwelt in Hsiû. There Kung-sun
Ch'âu asked him, saying, 'Was it the way of the ancients to hold
office without receiving salary?'
2. Mencius replied, 'No; when I first saw the king in Ch'ung, it was my
intention, on retiring from the interview, to go away. Because I did not
wish to change this intention, I declined to receive any salary.
3. 'Immediately after, there came orders for the collection of troops,
when it would have been improper for me to beg permission to leave. But to
remain so long in Ch'î was not my purpose.'
Book III, Part I:
T'ang Wan Kung
How all men by developing their natural goodness may become equal to the
1. When the prince, afterwards duke Wan of T'ang, had to go to
Ch'û, he went by way of Sung, and visited Mencius.
2. Mencius discoursed to him how the nature of man is good, and when
speaking, always made laudatory reference to Yâo and Shun.
3. When the prince was returning from Ch'û, he again visited
Mencius. Mencius said to him, 'Prince, do you doubt my words? The path is
one, and only one.
4. 'Ch'ang Chi'en said to duke King of Ch'î, "They were men. I am
a man. Why should I stand in awe of them?" Yen Yüan said, "What kind
of man was Shun? What kind of man am I? He who exerts himself will also
become such as he was." Kung-Ming Î said, "King Wan is my teacher.
How should the duke of Châu deceive me by those words?"
5. 'Now, T'ang, taking its length with its breadth, will amount, I
suppose, to fifty lî. It is small, but still sufficient to make a
good State. It is said in the Book of History, "If medicine do not raise a
commotion in the patient, his disease will not be cured by it."'
How Mencius advised the duke of T'ang to conduct the mourning for his
1. When the duke Ting of T'ang died, the prince said to Yen Yû,
'Formerly, Mencius spoke with me in Sung, and in my mind I have never
forgotten his words. Now, alas! this great duty to my father devolves upon
me; I wish to send you to ask the advice of Mencius, and then to proceed to
its various services'
2. Zan Yû accordingly proceeded to Tsâu, and consulted
Mencius. Mencius said, 'Is this not good? In discharging the funeral duties
to parents, men indeed feel constrained to do their utmost. The philosopher
Tsang said, "When parents are alive, they should be served according to
propriety; when they are dead, they should be buried according to
propriety; and they should be sacrificed to according to propriety:-- this
may be called filial piety." The ceremonies to be observed by the princes I
have not learned, but I have heard these points:-- that the three years'
mourning, the garment of coarse cloth with its lower edge even, and the
eating of congee, were equally prescribed by the three dynasties, and
binding on all, from the sovereign to the mass of the people.'
3. Zan Yû reported the execution of his commission, and the prince
determined that the three years' mourning should be observed. His aged
relatives, and the body of the officers, did not wish that it should be so,
and said, 'The former princes of Lû, that kingdom which we honour,
have, none of them, observed this practice, neither have any of our own
former princes observed it. For you to act contrary to their example is not
proper. Moreover, the History says,-- "In the observances of mourning and
sacrifice, ancestors are to be followed," meaning that they received those
things from a proper source to hand them down.'
4. The prince said again to Zan Yû, 'Hitherto, I have not given
myself to the pursuit of learning, but have found my pleasure in
horsemanship and sword-exercise, and now I don't come up to the wishes of
my aged relatives and the officers. I am afraid I may not be able to
discharge my duty in the great business that I have entered on; do you
again consult Mencius for me.' On this, Zan Yû went again to
Tsâu, and consulted Mencius. Mencius said, 'It is so, but he may not
seek a remedy in others, but only in himself. Confucius said, "When a
prince dies, his successor entrusts the administration to the prime
minister. He sips the congee. His face is of a deep black. He approaches
the place of mourning, and weeps. Of all the officers and inferior
ministers there is not one who will presume not to join in the lamentation,
he setting them this example. What the superior loves, his inferiors will
be found to love exceedingly. The relation between superiors and inferiors
is like that between the wind and grass. The grass must bend when the wind
blows upon it." The business depends on the prince.'
5. Zan Yû returned with this answer to his commission, and the
prince said, 'It is so. The matter does indeed depend on me.' So for five
months he dwelt in the shed, without issuing an order or a caution. All the
officers and his relatives said, 'He may be said to understand the
ceremonies.' When the time of interment arrived, they came from all
quarters of the State to witness it. Those who had come from other States
to condole with him, were greatly pleased with the deep dejection of his
countenance and the mournfulness of his wailing and weeping.
Mencius's counsels to the duke of T'ang for the government of the
kingdom. Agriculture and education are the chief things that must be
attended to, and the first as an essential preparation for the second.
1. The duke Wan of T'ang asked Mencius about the proper way of
governing a kingdom.
2. Mencius said, 'The business of the people may not be remissly attended
to. It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"In the day-light go and gather the grass,
And at night twist your ropes;
Then get up quickly on the roofs;--
Soon must we begin sowing again the grain."
3. 'The way of the people is this:-- If they have a
certain livelihood, they will have a fixed heart; if they have not a
certain livelihood, they have not a fixed heart. If they have not a fixed
heart, there is nothing which they will not do in the way of
self-abandonment, of moral deflection, of depravity, and of wild license.
When they have thus been involved in crime, to follow them up and punish
them:-- this is to entrap the people. How can such a thing as entrapping
the people be done under the rule of a benevolent man?
4. 'Therefore, a ruler who is endowed with talents and virtue will be
gravely complaisant and economical, showing a respectful politeness to his
ministers, and taking from the people only in accordance with regulated
5. 'Yang Hû said, "He who seeks to be rich will not be benevolent.
He who wishes to be benevolent will not be rich."
6. 'The sovereign of the Hsiâ dynasty enacted the fifty mâu
allotment, and the payment of a tax. The founder of the Yin enacted the
seventy mâu allotment, and the system of mutual aid. The founder of
the Châu enacted the hundred mâu allotment, and the share
system. In reality, what was paid in all these was a tithe. The share
system means mutual division. The aid system means mutual dependence.
7. 'Lung said, "For regulating the lands, there is no better system than
that of mutual aid, and none which is not better than that of taxing. By
the tax system, the regular amount was fixed by taking the average of
several years. In good years, when the grain lies about in abundance, much
might be taken without its being oppressive, and the actual exaction would
be small. But in bad years, the produce being not sufficient to repay the
manuring of the fields, this system still requires the taking of the full
amount. When the parent of the people causes the people to wear looks of
distress, and, after the whole year's toil, yet not to be able to nourish
their parents, so that they proceed to borrowing to increase their means,
till the old people and children are found lying in the ditches and
water-channels:-- where, in such a case, is his parental relation to the
8. 'As to the system of hereditary salaries, that is already observed in
9. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"May the rain come down on our public field,
And then upon our private fields!"
It is only in the system of mutual aid that there is a
public field, and from this passage we perceive that even in the Châu
dynasty this system has been recognised.
10. 'Establish hsiang, hsü, hsio, and hsiâo,-- all those
educational institutions,-- for the instruction of the people. The name
hsiang indicates nourishing as its object; hsiâo, indicates teaching;
and hsü indicates archery. By the Hsiâ dynasty the name
hsiâo was used; by the Yin, that of hsü; and by the Châu,
that of hsiang. As to the hsio, they belonged to the three dynasties, and
by that name. The object of them all is to illustrate the human relations.
When those are thus illustrated by superiors, kindly feeling will prevail
among the inferior people below.
11. 'Should a real sovereign arise, he will certainly come and take an
example from you; and thus you will be the teacher of the true
12. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
Although Châu was an old country,
It received a new destiny."
That is said with reference to king Wan. Do you
practise those things with vigour, and you also will by them make new your
13. The duke afterwards sent Pî Chan to consult Mencius about the
nine-squares system of dividing the land. Mencius said to him, 'Since your
prince, wishing to put in practice a benevolent government, has made choice
of you and put you into this employment, you must exert yourself to the
utmost. Now, the first thing towards a benevolent government must be to lay
down the boundaries. If the boundaries be not defined correctly, the
division of the land into squares will not be equal, and the produce
available for salaries will not be evenly distributed. On this account,
oppressive rulers and impure ministers are sure to neglect this defining of
the boundaries. When the boundaries have been defined correctly, the
division of the fields and the regulation of allowances may be determined
by you, sitting at your ease.
14. 'Although the territory of T'Ang is narrow and small, yet there must
be in it men of a superior grade, and there must be in it country-men. If
there were not men of a superior grade, there would be none to rule the
country-men. If there were not country-men, there would be none to support
the men of superior grade.
15. 'I would ask you, in the remoter districts, observing the
nine-squares division, to reserve one division to be cultivated on the
system of mutual aid, and in the more central parts of the kingdom, to make
the people pay for themselves a tenth part of their produce.
16. 'From the highest officers down to the lowest, each one must have
his holy field, consisting of fifty mâu.
17. 'Let the supernumerary males have their twenty-five mâu.
18. 'On occasions of death, or removal from one dwelling to another,
there will be no quitting the district. In the fields of a district, those
who belong to the same nine squares render all friendly offices to one
another in their going out and coming in, aid one another in keeping watch
and ward, and sustain one another in sickness. Thus the people are brought
to live in affection and harmony.
19. 'A square lî covers nine squares of land, which nine squares
contain nine hundred mâu. The central square is the public field, and
eight families, each having its private hundred mâu, cultivate in
common the public field. And not till the public work is finished, may they
presume to attend to their private affairs. This is the way by which the
country-men are distinguished from those of a superior grade.
20. 'Those are the great outlines of the system. Happily to modify and
adapt it depends on the prince and you.'
Mencius's refutation of the doctrine that the ruler ought to labour at
husbandry with his own hands. He vindicates the propriety of the division
of labour, and of a lettered class conducting government.
1. There came from Ch'û to T'ang one Hsü Hsing, who gave out
that he acted according to the words of Shan-nang. Coming right to his
gate, he addressed the duke Wan, saying, 'A man of a distant region, I have
heard that you, Prince, are practising a benevolent government, and I wish
to receive a site for a house, and to become one of your people.' The duke
Wan gave him a dwelling-place. His disciples, amounting to several tens,
all wore clothes of haircloth, and made sandals of hemp and wove mats for a
2. At the same time, Ch'an Hsiang, a disciple of Ch'an Liang, and his
younger brother, Hsin, with their plough-handles and shares on their backs,
came from Sung to T'ang, saying, 'We have heard that you, Prince, are
putting into practice the government of the ancient sages, showing that you
are likewise a sage. We wish to become the subjects of a sage.'
3. When Ch'an Hsiang saw Hsü Hsing, he was greatly pleased with
him, and, abandoning entirely whatever he had learned, became his disciple.
Having an interview with Mencius, he related to him with approbation the
words of Hsü Hsing to the following effect:-- 'The prince of T'ang is
indeed a worthy prince. He has not yet heard, however, the real doctrines
of antiquity. Now, wise and able princes should cultivate the ground
equally and along with their people, and eat the fruit of their labour.
They should prepare their own meals, morning and evening, while at the same
time they carry on their government. But now, the prince of T'ang has his
granaries, treasuries, and arsenals, which is an oppressing of the people
to nourish himself. How can he be deemed a real worthy prince?'
4. Mencius said,'I suppose that Hsü Hsing sows grain and eats the
produce. Is it not so?' 'It is so,' was the answer. 'I suppose also he
weaves cloth, and wears his own manufacture. Is it not so?' 'No. Hsü
wears clothes of haircloth.' 'Does he wear a cap?' 'He wears a cap.' 'What
kind of cap?' 'A plain cap.' 'Is it woven by himself?' 'No. He gets it in
exchange for grain.' 'Why does Hsü not weave it himself?' 'That would
injure his husbandry.' 'Does Hsü cook his food in boilers and
earthenware pans, and does he plough with an iron share?' 'Yes.' 'Does he
make those articles himself?' 'No. He gets them in exchange for
5. Mencius then said, 'The getting those various articles in exchange for
grain, is not oppressive to the potter and the founder, and the potter and
the founder in their turn, in exchanging their various articles for grain,
are not oppressive to the husbandman. How should such a thing be supposed?
And moreover, why does not Hsü act the potter and founder, supplying
himself with the articles which he uses solely from his own establishment?
Why does he go confusedly dealing and exchanging with the handicraftsmen?
Why does he not spare himself so much trouble?' Ch'an Hsiang replied, 'The
business of the handicraftsman can by no means be carried on along with the
business of husbandry.'
6. Mencius resumed, 'Then, is it the government of the kingdom which
alone can be carried on along with the practice of husbandry? Great men
have their proper business, and little men have their proper business.
Moreover, in the case of any single individual, whatever articles he can
require are ready to his hand, being produced by the various
handicraftsmen:-- if he must first make them for his own use, this way of
doing would keep all the people running about upon the roads. Hence, there
is the saying, "Some labour with their minds, and some labour with their
strength. Those who labour with their minds govern others; those who labour
with their strength are governed by others. Those who are governed by
others support them; those who govern others are supported by them." This
is a principle universally recognised.
7. 'In the time of Yâo, when the world had not yet been perfectly
reduced to order, the vast waters, flowing out of their channels, made a
universal inundation. Vegetation was luxuriant, and birds and beasts
swarmed. The various kinds of grain could not be grown. The birds and
beasts pressed upon men. The paths marked by the feet of beasts and prints
of birds crossed one another throughout the Middle Kingdom. To Yâo
alone this caused anxious sorrow. He raised Shun to office, and measures to
regulate the disorder were set forth. Shun committed to Yî the
direction of the fire to be employed, and Yî set fire to, and
consumed, the forests and vegetation on the mountains and in the marshes,
so that the birds and beasts fled away to hide themselves. Yü
separated the nine streams, cleared the courses of the Tsî and
T'â, and led them all to the sea. He opened a vent also for the
Zû and Han, and regulated the course of the Hwâ'i and Sze, so
that they all flowed into the Chiang. When this was done, it became
possible for the people of the Middle Kingdom to cultivate the ground and
get food for themselves. During that time, Yü was eight years away
from his home, and though he thrice passed the door of it, he did not
enter. Although he had wished to cultivate the ground, could he have done
8. 'The Minister of Agriculture taught the people to sow and reap,
cultivating the five kinds of grain. When the five kinds of grain were
brought to maturity, the people all obtained a subsistence. But men possess
a moral nature; and if they are well fed, warmly clad, and comfortably
lodged, without being taught at the same time, they become almost like the
beasts. This was a subject of anxious solicitude to the sage Shun, and he
appointed Hsieh to be the Minister of Instruction, to teach the relations
of humanity:-- how, between father and son, there should be affection;
between sovereign and minister, righteousness; between husband and wife,
attention to their separate functions; between old and young, a proper
order; and between friends, fidelity. The high meritorious sovereign said
to him, "Encourage them; lead them on; rectify them; straighten them; help
them; give them wings:-- thus causing them to become possessors of
themselves. Then follow this up by stimulating them, and conferring
benefits on them." When the sages were exercising their solicitude for the
people in this way, had they leisure to cultivate the ground?
9. 'What Yâo felt giving him anxiety was the not getting Shun.
What Shun felt giving him anxiety was the not getting Yü and Kâo
Yâo. But he whose anxiety is about his hundred mâu not being
properly cultivated, is a mere husbandman.
10. 'The imparting by a man to others of his wealth, is called
"kindness." The teaching others what is good, is called "the exercise of
fidelity." The finding a man who shall benefit the kingdom, is called
"benevolence." Hence to give the throne to another man would be easy; to
find a man who shall benefit the kingdom is difficult.
11. 'Confucius said, "Great indeed was Yâo as a sovereign. It is
only Heaven that is great, and only Yâo corresponded to it. How vast
was his virtue! The people could find no name for it. Princely indeed was
Shun! How majestic was he, having possession of the kingdom, and yet
seeming as if it were nothing to him!" In their governing the kingdom, were
there no subjects on which Yâo and Shun employed their minds? There
were subjects, only they did not employ their minds on the cultivation of
12. 'I have heard of men using the doctrines of our great land to change
barbarians, but I have never yet heard of any being changed by barbarians.
Ch'an Liang was a native of Ch'û. Pleased with the doctrines of
Châu-kung and Chung-nE, he came northwards to the Middle Kingdom and
studied them. Among the scholars of the northern regions, there was perhaps
no one who excelled him. He was what you call a scholar of high and
distinguished qualities. You and your brother followed him some tens of
years, and when your master died, you forthwith turned away from him.
13. 'Formerly, when Confucius died, after three vears had elapsed, his
disciples collected their baggage, and prepared to return to their several
homes. But on entering to take their leave of Tsze-kung, as they looked
towards one another, they wailed, till they all lost their voices. After
this they returned to their homes, but Tsze-kung went back, and built a
house for himself on the altar-ground, where he lived alone other three
years, before he returned home. On another occasion, Tsze-hsiâ,
Tsze-chang, and Tsze-yû, thinking that Yû Zo resembled the
sage, wished to render to him the same observances which they had rendered
to Confucius. They tried to force the disciple Tsang to join with them, but
he said, "This may not be done. What has been washed in the waters of the
Chiang and Han, and bleached in the autumn sun:-- how glistening is it!
Nothing can be added to it."
14. 'Now here is this shrike-tongued barbarian of the south, whose
doctrines are not those of the ancient kings. You turn away from your
master and become his disciple. Your conduct is different indeed from that
of the philosopher Tsang.
15. 'I have heard of birds leaving dark valleys to remove to lofty
trees, but I have not heard of their descending from lofty trees to enter
into dark valleys.
16. 'In the Praise-songs of Lû it is said,
"He smote the barbarians of the west and the north,
He punished Ching and Shû."
Thus Châu-kung would be sure to smite them, and
you become their disciple again; it appears that your change is not
17. Ch'an Hsiang said, 'If Hsü's doctrines were followed, then
there would not be two prices in the market, nor any deceit in the
kingdom. If a boy of five cubits were sent to the market, no one would
impose on him; linen and silk of the same length would be of the same
price. So it would be with bundles of hemp and silk, being of the same
weight; with the different kinds of grain, being the same in quantity; and
with shoes which were of the same size.'
18. Mencius replied, 'It is the nature of things to be of unequal
quality. Some are twice, some five times, some ten times, some a hundred
times, some a thousand times, some ten thousand times as valuable as
others. If you reduce them all to the same standard, that must throw the
kingdom into confusion. If large shoes and small shoes were of the same
price, who would make them? For people to follow the doctrines of Hsü,
would be for them to lead one another on to practise deceit. How can they
avail for the government of a State?'
How Mencius convinced a Mohist of his error, that all men were to be
loved equally, without difference of degree.
1. The Mohist, Î Chih, sought, through Hsü Pî, to see
Mencius. Mencius said, 'I indeed wish to see him, but at present I am still
unwell. When I am better, I will myself go and see him. He need not come
2. Next day, Î Chih again sought to see Mencius. Mencius said,
'To-day I am able to see him. But if I do not correct his errors, the true
principles will not be fully evident. Let me first correct him. I have
heard that this Î is a Mohist. Now Mo considers that in the
regulation of funeral matters a spare simplicity should be the rule.
Î thinks with Mo's doctrines to change the customs of the kingdom;--
how does he regard them as if they were wrong, and not honour them?
Notwithstanding his views, Î buried his parents in a sumptuous
manner, and so he served them in the way which his doctrines
3. The disciple Hsü informed Î of these remarks. Î
said, 'Even according to the principles of the learned, we find that the
ancients acted towards the people "as if they were watching over an
infant." What does this expression mean? To me it sounds that we are to
love all without difference of degree; but the manifestation of love must
begin with our parents.' Hsü reported this reply to Mencius, who said,
'Now, does Î really think that a man's affection for the child of his
brother is merely like his affection for the infant of a neighbour? What is
to be approved in that expression is simply this:-- that if an infant
crawling about is likely to fall into a well, it is no crime in the infant.
Moreover, Heaven gives birth to creatures in such a way that they have one
root, and Î makes them to have two roots. This is the cause of his
4. 'And, in the most ancient times, there were some who did not inter
their parents. When their parents died, they took them up and threw them
into some water-channel. Afterwards, when passing by them, they saw foxes
and wild-cats devouring them, and flies and gnats biting at them. The
perspiration started out upon their foreheads, and they looked away, unable
to bear the sight. It was not on account of other people that this
perspiration flowed. The emotions of their hearts affected their faces and
eyes, and instantly they went home, and came back with baskets and spades
and covered the bodies. If the covering them thus was indeed right, you may
see that the filial son and virtuous man, in interring in a handsome manner
their parents, act according to a proper rule.'
5. The disciple Hsü informed Î of what Mencius had said.
Î was thoughtful for a short time, and then said, 'He has instructed
Book III, Part II:
T'ang Wan Kung
How Mencius defended the dignity of reserve by which he regulated his
intercourse with the princes of his time.
1. Ch'an Tâi said to Mencius, 'In not going to wait upon any of
the princes, you seem to me to be standing on a small point. If now you
were once to wait upon them, the result might be so great that you would
make one of them sovereign, or, if smaller, that you would make one of them
chief of all the other princes. Moreover, the History says, "By bending
only one cubit, you make eight cubits straight." It appears to me like a
thing which might be done.'
2. Mencius said, 'Formerly, the duke Ching of Ch'î, once when he
was hunting, called his forester to him by a flag. The forester would not
come, and the duke was going to kill him. With reference to this incident,
Confucius said, "The determined officer never forgets that his end may be
in a ditch or a stream; the brave officer never forgets that he may lose
his head." What was it in the forester that Confucius thus approved? He
approved his not going to the duke, when summoned by the article which was
not appropriate to him. If one go to see the princes without waiting to be
invited, what can be thought of him?
3. 'Moreover, that sentence, "By bending only one cubit, you make
eight cubits straight," is spoken with reference to the gain that may be
got. If gain be the object, then, if it can be got by bending eight cubits
to make one cubit straight, may we likewise do that?
4. 'Formerly, the officer Châo Chien made Wang Liang act as
charioteer for his favourite Hsî, when, in the course of a whole day,
they did not get a single bird. The favourite Hsî reported this
result, saying, "He is the poorest charioteer in the world." Some one told
this to Wang Liang, who said, "I beg leave to try again." By dint of
pressing, this was accorded to him, when in one morning they got ten birds.
The favourite, reporting this result, said, "He is the best charioteer in
the world." Chien said, "I will make him always drive your chariot for
you." When he told Wang Liang so, however, Liang refused, saying, "I drove
for him, strictly observing the proper rules for driving, and in the whole
day he did not get one bird. I drove for him so as deceitfully to intercept
the birds, and in one morning he got ten. It is said in the Book of
'There is no failure in the management of their horses;
The arrows are discharged surely, like the blows of an axe.'
I am not accustomed to drive for a mean man. I beg
leave to decline the office."
5. 'Thus this charioteer even was ashamed to bend improperly to the will
of such an archer. Though, by bending to it, they would have caught birds
and animals sufficient to form a hill, he would not do so. If I were to
bend my principles and follow those princes, of what kind would my conduct
be? And you are wrong. Never has a man who has bent himself been able to
make others straight.'
Mencius's conception of the great man.
1. Ching Ch'un said to Mencius, 'Are not Kung-sun Yen and Chang Î
really great men? Let them once be angry, and all the princes are afraid.
Let them live quietly, and the flames of trouble are extinguished
throughout the kingdom.'
2. Mencius said, 'How can such men be great men? Have you not read the
Ritual Usages?-- "At the capping of a young man, his father admonishes him.
At the marrying away of a young woman, her mother admonishes her,
accompanying her to the door on her leaving, and cautioning her with these
words, 'You are going to your home. You must be respectful; you must be
careful. Do not disobey your husband.'" Thus, to look upon compliance as
their correct course is the rule for women.
3. 'To dwell in the wide house of the world, to stand in the correct
seat of the world, and to walk in the great path of the world; when he
obtains his desire for office, to practise his principles for the good of
the people; and when that desire is disappointed, to practise them alone;
to be above the power of riches and honours to make dissipated, of poverty
and mean condition to make swerve from principle, and of power and force to
make bend:-- these characteristics constitute the great man.'
Office is to be eagerly desired, and yet it may not be sought but by its
1. Châu Hsiâo asked Mencius, saying, 'Did superior men of
old time take office?' Mencius replied, 'They did. The Record says, "If
Confucius was three months without being employed by some ruler, he looked
anxious and unhappy. When he passed from the boundary of a State, he was
sure to carry with him his proper gift of introduction." Kung-ming Î
said, "Among the ancients, if an officer was three months unemployed by a
ruler, he was condoled with."'
2. Hsiâo said, 'Did not this condoling, on being three months
unemployed by a ruler, show a too great urgency?'
3. Mencius answered, 'The loss of his place to an officer is like the
loss of his State to a prince. It is said in the Book of Rites, "A prince
ploughs himself, and is assisted by the people, to supply the millet for
sacrifice. His wife keeps silkworms, and unwinds their cocoons, to make the
garments for sacrifice." If the victims be not perfect, the millet not
pure, and the dress not complete, he does not presume to sacrifice. "And
the scholar who, out of office, has no holy field, in the same way, does
not sacrifice. The victims for slaughter, the vessels, and the garments,
not being all complete, he does not presume to sacrifice, and then neither
may he dare to feel happy." Is there not here sufficient ground also for
4. Hsiâo again asked, 'What was the meaning of Confucius's always
carrying his proper gift of introduction with him, when he passed over the
boundaries of the State where he had been?'
5. 'An officer's being in office,' was the reply, 'is like the ploughing
of a husbandman. Does a husbandman part with his plough, because he goes
from one State to another?'
6. Hsiâo pursued, 'The kingdom of Tsin is one, as well as others,
of official employments, but I have not heard of anyone being thus earnest
about being in office. If there should be this urge why does a superior man
make any difficulty about taking it?' Mencius answered, 'When a son is
born, what is desired for him is that he may have a wife; when a daughter
is born, what is desired for her is that she may have a husband. This
feeling of the parents is possessed by all men. If the young people,
without waiting for the orders of their parents, and the arrangements of
the go-betweens, shall bore holes to steal a sight of each other, or get
over the wall to be with each other, then their parents and all other
people will despise them. The ancients did indeed always desire to be in
office, but they also hated being so by any improper way. To seek office by
an improper way is of a class with young people's boring holes.'
The labourer is worthy of his hire, and there is no labourer so worthy
as the scholar who instructs men in virtue.
1. P'ang Kang asked Mencius, saying, 'Is it not an extravagant procedure
to go from one prince to another and live upon them, followed by several
tens of carriages, and attended by several hundred men?' Mencius replied,
'If there be not a proper ground for taking it, a single bamboo-cup of rice
may not be received from a man. If there be such a proper ground, then
Shun's receiving the kingdom from Yâo is not to be considered
excessive. Do you think it was excessive?'
2. Kang said, 'No. But for a scholar performing no service to receive
his support notwithstanding is improper.'
3. Mencius answered, 'If you do not have an intercommunication of the
productions of labour, and an interchange of men's services, so that one
from his overplus may supply the deficiency of another, then husbandmen
will have a superfluity of grain, and women will have a superfluity of
cloth. If you have such an interchange, carpenters and carriage-wrights may
all get their food from you. Here now is a man, who, at home, is filial,
and abroad, respectful to his elders; who watches over the principles of
the ancient kings, awaiting the rise of future learners:-- and yet you will
refuse to support him. How is it that you give honour to the carpenter and
carriage-wright, and slight him who practises benevolence and
4. P'ang Kang said, 'The aim of the carpenter and carriagewright is by
their trades to seek for a living. Is it also the aim of the superior man
in his practice of principles thereby to seek for a living?' 'What have you
to do,' returned Mencius, 'with his purpose? He is of service to you. He
deserves to be supported, and should be supported. And let me ask,-- Do you
remunerate a man's intention, or do you remunerate his service.' To this
Kang replied, 'I remunerate his intention.'
5. Mencius said, 'There is a man here, who breaks your tiles, and draws
unsightly figures on your walls;-- his purpose may be thereby to seek for
his living, but will you indeed remunerate him?' 'No,' said Kang; and
Mencius then concluded, 'That being the case, it is not the purpose which
you remunerate, but the work done.'
The prince who will set himself to practise a benevolent government on
the principles of the ancient kings has none to fear.
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'Sung is a small State. Its ruler is
now setting about to practise the true royal government, and Ch'î and
Ch'û hate and attack him. What in this case is to be done?'
2. Mencius replied, 'When T'ang dwelt in Po, he adjoined to the State of
Ko, the chief of which was living in a dissolute state and neglecting his
proper sacrifices. T'ang sent messengers to inquire why he did not
sacrifice. He replied, "I have no means of supplying the necessary
victims." On this, T'ang caused oxen and sheep to be sent to him, but he
ate them, and still continued not to sacrifice. T'ang again sent messengers
to ask him the same question as before, when he replied, "I have no means
of obtaining the necessary millet." On this, T'ang sent the mass of the
people of Po to go and till the ground for him, while the old and feeble
carried their food to them. The chief of Ko led his people to intercept
those who were thus charged with wine, cooked rice, millet, and paddy, and
took their stores from them, while they killed those who refused to give
them up. There was a boy who had some millet and flesh for the labourers,
who was thus slain and robbed. What is said in the Book of History, "The
chief of Ko behaved as an enemy to the provision-carriers," has reference
3. 'Because of his murder of this boy, T'ang proceeded to punish him.
All within the four seas said, "It is not because he desires the riches of
the kingdom, but to avenge a common man and woman."
4. 'When T'ang began his work of executing justice, he commenced with Ko,
and though he made eleven punitive expeditions, he had not an enemy in the
kingdom. When he pursued his work in the east, the rude tribes in the west
murmured. So did those on the north, when he was engaged in the south.
Their cry was-- "Why does he make us last." Thus, the people's longing for
him was like their longing for rain in a time of great drought. The
frequenters of the markets stopped not. Those engaged in weeding in
the fields made no change in their operations. While he punished their
rulers, he consoled the people. His progress was like the falling of
opportune rain, and the people were delighted. It is said in the Book of
History, "We have waited for our prince. When our prince comes, we may
escape from the punishments under which we suffer."
5. 'There being some who would not become the subjects of Châu,
king Wû proceeded to punish them on the east. He gave tranquillity to
their people, who welcomed him with baskets full of their black and yellow
silks, saying-- "From henceforth we shall serve the sovereign of our
dynasty of Châu, that we may be made happy by him." So they joined
themselves, as subjects, to the great city of Châu. Thus, the men of
station of Shang took baskets full of black and yellow silks to meet the
men of station of Châu, and the lower classes of the one met those of
the other with baskets of rice and vessels of congee. Wû saved the
people from the midst of fire and water, seizing only their oppressors, and
6. 'In the Great Declaration it is said, "My power shall be put forth,
and, invading the territories of Shang, I will seize the oppressor. I will
put him to death to punish him:-- so shall the greatness of my work appear,
more glorious than that of T'ang."
7. 'Sung is not, as you say, practising true royal government, and so
forth. If it were practising royal government, all within the four seas
would be lifting up their heads, and looking for its prince, wishing to
have him for their sovereign. Great as Ch'î and Ch'û are, what
would there be to fear from them?'
The influence of example and association. The importance of having
virtuous men about a sovereign's person.
1. Mencius said to Tâi Pû-shang, 'I see that you are
desiring your king to be virtuous, and will plainly tell you how he may be
made so. Suppose that there is a great officer of Ch'û here, who
wishes his son to learn the speech of Ch'î. Will he in that case
employ a man of Ch'î as his tutor, or a man of Ch'û?' 'He will
employ a man of Ch'î to teach him,' said Pû-shang. Mencius went
on, 'If but one man of Ch'î be teaching him, and there be a multitude
of men of Ch'û continually shouting out about him, although his
father beat him every day, wishing him to learn the speech of Ch'î,
it will be impossible for him to do so. But in the same way, if he were to
be taken and placed for several years in Chwang or Yo, though his father
should beat him, wishing him to speak the language of Ch'û, it would
be impossible for him to do so.
2. 'You supposed that Hsieh Chü-châu was a scholar of virtue,
and you have got him placed in attendance on the king. Suppose that all in
attendance on the king, old and young, high and low, were Hsieh
Chü-châus, whom would the king have to do evil with? And suppose
that all in attendance on the king, old and young, high and low, are not
Hsieh Chü-châus, whom will the king gave to do good with? What
can one Hsieh Chü-châu do alone for the king of Sung?'
1. Kung-sun Châu asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the point of
righteousness involved in your not going to see the princes?' Mencius
replied, 'Among the ancients, if one had not een a minister in a State, he
did not go to see the sovereign.
2. 'Twan Kan-mû leaped over his wall to avoid the prince. Hsieh
Liû shut his door, and would not admit the prince. These two,
however, carried their scrupulosity to excess. When a prince is urgent, it
is not improper to see him.
3. 'Yang Ho wished to get Confucius to go to see him, but disliked doing
so by any want of propriety. As it is the rule, therefore, that when a
great officer sends a gift to a scholar, if the latter be not at home to
receive it, he must go to the officer's to pay his respects, Yang Ho
watched when Confucius was out, and sent him a roasted pig. Confucius, in
his turn, watched when Ho was out, and went to pay his respects to him. At
that time, Yang Ho had taken the initiative;-- how could Confucius decline
going to see him?
4. 'Tsang-tsze said, "They who shrug up their shoulders, and laugh in a
flattering way, toil harder than the summer labourer in the fields."
Tsze-lû said, "There are those who talk with people with whom they
have no great community of feeling. If you look at their countenances, they
are full of blushes. I do not desire to know such persons." By considering
these remarks, the spirit which the superior man nourishes may be
What is wrong should be put an end to at once, without reserve and
1. Tâi Ying-chih said to Mencius, 'I am not able at present
and immediately to do with the levying of a tithe only, and abolishing the
duties charged at the passes and in the markets. With your leave I will
lighten, however, both the tax and the duties, until next year, and will
then make an end of them. What do you think of such a course?'
2. Mencius said, 'Here is a man, who every day appropriates some of his
neighbour's strayed fowls. Some one says to him, "Such is not the way of a
good man;" and he replies, "With your leave I will diminish my
appropriations, and will take only one fowl a month, until next year, when
I will make an end of the practice."
3. 'If you know that the thing is unrighteous, then use all despatch in
putting an end to it:-- why wait till next year?'
Mencius defends himself against the charge of being fond of disputing.
What led to his appearing to be so was the necessity of the time.
1. The disciple Kung-tû said to Mencius, 'Master, the people
beyond our school all speak of you as being fond of disputing. I venture to
ask whether it be so.' Mencius replied, 'Indeed, I am not fond of
disputing, but I am compelled to do it.
2. 'A long time has elapsed since this world of men received its being,
and there has been along its history now a period of good order, and now a
period of confusion.
3. 'In the time of Yâo, the waters, flowing out of their channels,
inundated the Middle Kingdom. Snakes and dragons occupied it, and the
people had no place where they could settle themselves. In the low grounds
they made nests for themselves on the trees or raised platforms, and in the
high grounds they made caves. It is said in the Book of History, "The
waters in their wild course warned me." Those "waters in their wild course"
were the waters of the great inundation.
4. 'Shun employed Yü to reduce the waters to order. Yü dug
open their obstructed channels, and conducted them to the sea. He drove
away the snakes and dragons, and forced them into the grassy marshes. On
this, the waters pursued their course through the country, even the waters
of the Chiang, the Hwâi, the Ho, and the Han, and the dangers and
obstructions which they had occasioned were removed. The birds and beasts
which had injured the people also disappeared, and after this men found the
plains available for them, and occupied them.
5. 'After the death of Yâo and Shun, the principles that mark
sages fell into decay. Oppressive sovereigns arose one after another, who
pulled down houses to make ponds and lakes, so that the people knew not
where they could rest in quiet; they threw fields out of cultivation to
form gardens and parks, so that the people could not get clothes and food.
Afterwards, corrupt speakings and oppressive deeds became more rife;
gardens and parks, ponds and lakes, thickets and marshes became more
numerous, and birds and beasts swarmed. By the time of the tyrant
Châu, the kingdom was again in a state of great confusion.
6. 'Châu-kung assisted king Wû, and destroyed Châu. He
smote Yen, and after three years put its sovereign to death. He drove
Fei-lien to a corner by the sea, and slew him. The States which he
extinguished amounted to fifty. He drove far away also the tigers,
leopards, rhinoceroses, and elephants;-- and all the people was greatly
delighted. It is said in the Book of History, "Great and splendid were the
plans of king Wan! Greatly were they carried out by the energy of king
Wû! They are for the assistance and instruction of us who are of an
after day. They are all in principle correct, and deficient in
7. 'Again the world fell into decay, and principles faded away. Perverse
speakings and oppressive deeds waxed rife again. There were instances of
ministers who murdered their sovereigns, and of sons who murdered their
8. 'Confucius was afraid, and made the "Spring and Autumn." What the
"Spring and Autumn" contains are matters proper to the sovereign. On this
account Confucius said, "Yes! It is the Spring and Autumn which will make
men know me, and it is the Spring and Autumn which will make men condemn
9. 'Once more, sage sovereigns cease to arise, and the princes of the
States give the reins to their lusts. Unemployed scholars indulge in
unreasonable discussions. The words of Yang Chû and Mo Tî fill
the country. If you listen to people's discourses throughout it, you will
find that they have adopted the views either of Yang or of Mo. Now, Yang's
principle is-- "each one for himself," which does not acknowledge the
claims of the sovereign. Mo's principle is-- "to love all equally," which
does not acknowledge the peculiar affection due to a father. But to
acknowledge neither king nor father is to be in the state of a beast.
Kung-ming Î said, "In their kitchens, there is fat meat. In their
stables, there are fat horses. But their people have the look of hunger,
and on the wilds there are those who have died of famine. This is leading
on beasts to devour men." If the principles of Yang and Mo be not stopped,
and the principles of Confucius not set forth, then those perverse
speakings will delude the people, and stop up the path of benevolence and
righteousness. When benevolence and righteousness are stopped up, beasts
will be led on to devour men, and men will devour one another.
10. 'I am alarmed by these things, and address myself to the defence of
the doctrines of the former sages, and to oppose Yang and Mo. I drive away
their licentious expressions, so that such perverse speakers may not be
able to show themselves. Their delusions spring up in men's minds, and do
injury to their practice of affairs. Shown in their practice of affairs,
they are pernicious to their government. When sages shall rise up again,
they will not change my words.
11. 'In former times, Yü repressed the vast waters of the
inundation, and the country was reduced to order. Châu-kung's
achievements extended even to the barbarous tribes of the east and north,
and he drove away all ferocious animals, and the people enjoyed repose.
Confucius completed the "Spring and Autumn," and rebellious ministers and
villainous sons were struck with terror.
12. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"He smote the barbarians of the west and the north;
He punished Ching and Shû
And no one dared to resist us."
These father-deniers and king-deniers would have been
smitten by Châu-kung.
13. 'I also wish to rectify men's hearts, and to put an end to those
perverse doctrines, to oppose their one-sided actions and banish away their
licentious expressions;-- and thus to carry on the work of the three sages.
Do I do so because I am fond of disputing? I am compelled to do it.
14. 'Whoever is able to oppose Yang and Mo is a disciple of the
The man who will avoid all association with, and obligation to, those of
whom he does not approve, must needs go out of the world.
1. K'wang Chang said to Mencius, 'Is not Ch'an Chung a man of true
self-denying purity? He was living in Wû-ling, and for three days was
without food, till he could neither hear nor see. Over a well there grew a
plum-tree, the fruit of which had been more than half eaten by worms. He
crawled to it, and tried to eat some of the fruit, when, after swallowing
three mouthfuls, he recovered his sight and hearing.'
2. Mencius replied, 'Among the scholars of Ch'î, I must regard
Chung as the thumb among the fingers. But still, where is the self-denying
purity he pretends to? To carry out the principles which he holds, one must
become an earthworm, for so only can it be done.
3. 'Now, an earthworm eats the dry mould above, and drinks the yellow
spring below. Was the house in which Chung dwells built by a Po-î? or
was it built by a robber like Chih? Was the millet which he eats planted by
a Po-î? or was it planted by a robber like Chih? These are things
which cannot be known.'
4. 'But,' said Chang, 'what does that matter? He himself weaves sandals
of hemp, and his wife twists and dresses threads of hemp to sell or exchange
5. Mencius rejoined, 'Chung belongs to an ancient and noble family of
Ch'î. His elder brother Tâi received from Kâ a revenue of
10,000 chung, but he considered his brother's emolument to be unrighteous,
and would not eat of it, and in the same way he considered his brother's
house to be unrighteous, and would not dwell in it. Avoiding his brother
and leaving his mother, he went and dwelt in Wû-ling. One day
afterwards, he returned to their house, when it happened that some one sent
his brother a present of a live goose. He, knitting his eyebrows, said,
"What are you going to use that cackling thing for?" By-and-by his mother
killed the goose, and gave him some of it to eat. Just then his brother
came into the house, and said, "It is the flesh of that cackling thing,"
upon which he went out and vomited it.
6. 'Thus, what his mother gave him he would not eat, but what his wife
gives him he eats. He will not dwell in his brother's house, but he dwells
in Wû-ling. How can he in such circumstances complete the style of
life which he professes? With such principles as Chung holds, a man must be
an earthworm, and then he can carry them out.'
Book IV, Part I:
There is an art of government, as well as a wish to govern well, to be
learned from the example and principles of the ancient kings, and which
requires to be studied and practised by rulers and their ministers.
1. Mencius said, 'The power of vision of Lî Lâu, and skill
of hand of Kung-shû, without the compass and square, could not form
squares and circles. The acute ear of the music-master K'wang, without the
pitch-tubes, could not determine correctly the five notes. The principles
of Yâo and Shun, without a benevolent government, could not secure
the tranquil order of the kingdom.
2. 'There are now princes who have benevolent hearts and a reputation for
benevolence, while yet the people do not receive any benefits from them,
nor will they leave any example to future ages;-- all because they do not
put into practice the ways of the ancient kings.
3. 'Hence we have the saying:-- "Virtue alone is not sufficient for the
exercise of government; laws alone cannot carry themselves into
4. It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"Without transgression, without forgetfulness,
Following the ancient statutes."
Never has any one fallen into error, who followed the
laws of the ancient kings.
5. 'When the sages had used the vigour of their eyes, they called in to
their aid the compass, the square, the level, and the line, to make things
square, round, level, and straight:-- the use of the instruments is
inexhaustible. When they had used their power of hearing to the utmost,
they called in the pitch-tubes to their aid to determine the five
notes:-- the use of those tubes is inexhaustible. When they had exerted to
the utmost the thoughts of their hearts, they called in to their aid a
government that could not endure to witness the sufferings of men:-- and
their benevolence overspread the kingdom.
6. 'Hence we have the saying:-- "To raise a thing high, we must begin
from the top of a mound or a hill; to dig to a great depth, we must
commence in the low ground of a stream or a marsh." Can he be pronounced
wise, who, in the exercise of government, does not proceed according to the
ways of the former kings?
7. 'Therefore only the benevolent ought to be in high stations. When a
man destitute of benevolence is in a high station, he thereby disseminates
his wickedness among all below him.
8. 'When the prince has no principles by which he examines his
administration, and his ministers have no laws by which they keep
themselves in the discharge of their duties, then in the court obedience is
not paid to principle, and in the office obedience is not paid to rule.
Superiors violate the laws of righteousness, and inferiors violate the
penal laws. It is only by a fortunate chance that a State in such a case is
9. 'Therefore it is said, "It is not the exterior and interior walls being
incomplete, and the supply of weapons offensive and defensive not being
large, which constitutes the calamity of a kingdom. It is not the
cultivable area not being extended, and stores and wealth not being
accumulated, which occasions the ruin of a State." When superiors do not
observe the rules of propriety, and inferiors do not learn, then seditious
people spring up, and that State will perish in no time.
10. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"When such an overthrow of Châu is being produced by Heaven,
Be not ye so much at your ease!"
11. '" At your ease;"-- that is, dilatory.
12. 'And so dilatory may those officers be deemed, who serve their
prince without righteousness, who take office and retire from it without
regard to propriety, and who in their words disown the ways of the ancient
13. 'Therefore it is said, "To urge one's sovereign to difficult
achievements may be called showing respect for him. To set before him what
is good and repress his perversities may be called showing reverence for
him. He who does not do these things, saying to himself,-- My sovereign is
incompetent to this, may be said to play the thief with him."'
A continuation of the last chapter;-- that Yâo and Shun are the
perfect models of sovereigns and ministers, and the consequences of not
1. Mencius said, 'The compass and square produce perfect circles
and squares. By the sages, the human relations are perfectly exhibited.
2. 'He who as a sovereign would perfectly discharge the duties of a
sovereign, and he who as a minister would perfectly discharge the duties of
a minister, have only to imitate-- the one Yâo, and the other Shun.
He who does not serve his sovereign as Shun served Yâo, does not
respect his sovereign; and he who does not rule his people as Yâo
ruled his, injures his people.
3. 'Confucius said, "There are but two courses, which can be pursued,
that of virtue and its opposite."
4. 'A ruler who carries the oppression of his people to the highest
pitch, will himself be slain, and his kingdom will perish. If one stop
short of the highest pitch, his life will notwithstanding be in danger, and
his kingdom will be weakened. He will be styled "The Dark," or "The Cruel,"
and though he may have filial sons and affectionate grandsons, they will
not be able in a hundred generations to change the designation.
5. 'This is what is intended in the words of the Book of Poetry,
"The beacon of Yin is not remote,
It is in the time of the (last) sovereign of Hsiâ."'
The importance to all, and specifically to rulers, of exercizing
1. Mencius said, 'It was by benevolence that the three dynasties gained
the throne, and by not being benevolent that they lost it.
2. 'It is by the same means that the decaying and flourishing, the
preservation and perishing, of States are determined.
3. 'If the sovereign be not benevolent, be cannot preserve the throne
from passing from him. If the Head of a State be not benevolent, he cannot
preserve his rule. If a high noble or great officer be not benevolent, he
cannot preserve his ancestral temple. If a scholar or common man be not
benevolent, be cannot preserve his four limbs.
4. 'Now they hate death and ruin, and yet delight in being not
benevolent;-- this is like hating to be drunk, and yet being strong to
With what measure a man metes it will be measured to him again, and
consequently before a man deals with others, expecting them to be affected
by him, he should first deal with himself.
1. Mencius said, 'If a man love others, and no responsive attachment is
shown to him, let him turn inwards and examine his own benevolence. If he
is trying to rule others, and his government is unsuccessful, let him turn
inwards and examine his wisdom. If he treats others politely, and they do
not return his politeness, let him turn inwards and examine his own feeling
2. 'When we do not, by what we do, realise what we desire, we must turn
inwards, and examine ourselves in every point. When a man's person is
correct, the whole kingdom will turn to him with recognition and
3. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"Be always studious to be in harmony with the ordinances of God,
And you will obtain much happiness."'
Personal character is necessary to all good influence.
Mencius said, 'People have this common saying,-- "The kingdom, the
State, the family." The root of the kingdom is in the State. The root of
the State is in the family. The root of the family is in the person of its
The importance to a ruler of securing the esteem and submission of the
Mencius said, 'The administration of government is not difficult;-- it
lies in not offending the great families. He whom the great families
affect, will be affected by the whole State; and he whom any one State
affects, will be affected by the whole kingdom. When this is the case, such
an one's virtue and teachings will spread over all within the four seas
like the rush of water.'
How the subjection of one State to another is determined at different
times. A prince's only security for safety and prosperity is in being
1. Mencius said, 'When right government prevails in the kingdom, princes
of little virtue are submissive to those of great, and those of little
worth to those of great. When bad government prevails in the kingdom,
princes of small power are submissive to those of great, and the weak to
the strong. Both these cases are the rule of Heaven. They who accord with
Heaven are preserved, and they who rebel against Heaven perish.
2. 'The duke Ching of Ch'î said, "Not to be able to command
others, and at the same time to refuse to receive their commands, is to cut
one's self off from all intercourse with others." His tears flowed forth
while he gave his daughter to be married to the prince of Wû.
3. 'Now the small States imitate the large, and yet are ashamed to
receive their commands. This is like a scholar's being ashamed to receive
the commands of his master.
4. 'For a plince who is ashamed of this, the best plan is to imitate
king Wan. Let one imitate king Wan, and in five years, if his State be
large, or in seven years, if it be small, he will be sure to give laws to
5. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"The descendants of the sovereigns of the Shang dynasty,
Are in number more than hundreds of thousands,
But, God having passed His decree,
They are all submissive to Châu.
They are submissive to Châu,
Because the decree of Heaven is not unchanging.
The officers of Yin, admirable and alert,
Pour out the libations, and assist in the capital of Châu."
Confucius said, "As against so benevolent a sovereign,
they could not be deemed a multitude." Thus, if the prince of a state love
benevolence, he will have no opponent in all the kingdom.
6. 'Now they wish to have no opponent in all the kingdom, but they do not
seek to attain this by being benevolent. This is like a man laying hold of
a heated substance, and not having first dipped it in water. It is said in
the Book of Poetry,
"Who can take up a heated substance,
Without first dipping it (in water)?"'
That a prince is the agent of his own ruin by his vicious ways and
refusing to be counselled.
1. Mencius said, 'How is it possible to speak with those princes who are
not benevolent ? Their perils they count safety, their calamities they
count profitable, and they have pleasure in the things by which they
perish. If it were possible to talk with them who so violate benevolence,
how could we have such destruction of States and ruin of Families?
2. 'There was a boy singing,
"When the water of the Ts'ang-lang is clear,
It does to wash the strings of my cap;
When the water of the Ts'ang-lang is muddy,
It does to wash my feet."
3. 'Confucius said, "Hear what he sings, my children. When clear, then
he will wash his cap-strings; and when muddy, he will wash his feet with
it. This different application is brought by the water on itself."
4. 'A man must first despise himself, and then others will despise him.
A family must first destroy itself, and then others will destroy it. A
State must first smite itself, and then others will smite it.
5. 'This is illustrated in the passage of the T'âi Chiâ,
"When Heaven sends down calamities, it is still possible to escape them.
When we occasion the calamities ourselves, it is not possible any longer to
Only by being benevolent can a prince raise himself to be sovereign, or
even avoid ruin.
1. Mencius said, 'Chieh and Châu's losing the throne, arose from
their losing the people, and to lose the people means to lose their hearts.
There is a way to get the kingdom:-- get the people, and the kingdom is
got. There is a way to get the people:-- get their hearts, and the people
are got. There is a way to get their hearts:-- it is simply to collect for
them what they like, and not to lay on them what they dislike.
2. 'The people turn to a benevolent rule as water flows downwards, and
as wild beasts fly to the wilderness.
3. 'Accordingly, as the otter aids the deep waters, driving the fish
into them, and the hawk aids the thickets, driving the little birds to
them, so Chieh and Châu aided T'ang and Wû, driving the people
4. 'If among the present rulers of the kingdom, there were one who loved
benevolence, all the other princes would aid him, by driving the people to
him. Although he wished not to become sovereign, he could not avoid
5. 'The case of one of the present princes wishing to become sovereign
is like the having to seek for mugwort three years old, to cure a seven
years' sickness. If it have not been kept in store, the patient may all his
life not get it. If the princes do not set their wills on benevolence, all
their days will be in sorrow and disgrace, and they will be involved in
death and ruin.
6. 'This is illustrated by what is said in the Book of Poetry,
"How otherwise can you improve the kingdom?
You will only with it go to ruin."'
A warning to the violently evil, and the weakly evil.
1. Mencius said, 'With those who do violence to themselves, it is
impossible to speak. With those who throw themselves away, it is impossible
to do anything. To disown in his conversation propriety and righteousness,
is what we mean by doing violence to one's self. To say-- "I am not able to
dwell in benevolence or pursue the path of righteousness," is what we mean
by throwing one's self away.
2. 'Benevolence is the tranquil habitation of man, and righteousness is
his straight path.
3. 'Alas for them, who leave the tranquil dwelling empty and do not
reside in it, and who abandon the right path and do not pursue it?'
The tranquil prosperity of the kingdom depends on the discharge of the
common relations of life.
Mencius said, 'The path of duty lies in what is near, and men seek for
it in what is remote. The work of duty lies in what is easy, and men seek
for it in what is difficult. If each man would love his parents and show
the due respect to his elders, the whole land would enjoy
The great work of men should be to strive to attain perfect sincerity.
1. Mencius said, 'When those occupying inferior situations do not obtain
the confidence of the sovereign, they cannot succeed in governing the
people. There is a way to obtain the confidence of the sovereign:-- if one
is not trusted by his friends, he will not obtain the confidence of his
sovereign. There is a way of being trusted by one's friends:-- if one do
not serve his parents so as to make them pleased, he will not be trusted by
his friends. There is a way to make one's parents pleased:-- if one, on
turning his thoughts inwards, finds a want of sincerity, he will not give
pleasure to his parents. There is a way to the attainment of sincerity in
one's self:-- if a man do not understand what is good, he will not attain
sincerity in himself.
2. 'Therefore, sincerity is the way of Heaven. To think how to be
sincere is the way of man.
3. Never has there been one possessed of complete sincerity, who did not
move others. Never has there been one who had not sincerity who was able to
The influence of government like that of king Wan.
1. Mencius said, 'Po-Î, that he might avoid Châ'u, was
dwelling on the coast of the northern sea. When he heard of the rise of
king Wan, he roused himself, and said, "Why should I not go and follow him?
I have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old."
T'âi-kung, that he might avoid Châu, was dwelling on the coast
of the eastern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wan, he roused
himself, and said, "Why should I not go and follow him? I have heard that
the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old."
2. 'Those two old men were the greatest old men of the kingdom. When
they came to follow king Wan, it was the fathers of the kingdom coming to
follow him. When the fathers of the kingdom joined him, how could the sons
go to any other?
3. 'Were any of the princes to practise the government of king Wan,
within seven years he would be sure to be giving laws to the kingdom.'
Against the ministers of his time, who pursued their warlike and other
schemes, regardless of the happiness of the people.
1. Mencius said, 'Ch'iû acted as chief officer to the head of the
Chî family, whose evil ways he was unable to change, while he exacted
from the people double the grain formerly paid. Confucius said, "He is no
disciple of mine. Little children, beat the drum and assail him."
2. 'Looking at the subject from this case, we perceive that when a
prince was not practising benevolent government, all his ministers who
enriched him were rejected by Confucius:-- how much more would he have
rejected those who are vehement to fight for their prince! When contentions
about territory are the ground on which they fight, they slaughter men till
the fields are filled with them. When some struggle for a city is the
ground on which they fight, they slaughter men till the city is filled with
them. This is what is called "leading on the land to devour human flesh."
Death is not enough for such a crime.
3. 'Therefore, those who are skilful to fight should suffer the highest
punishment. Next to them should be punished those who unite some princes in
leagues against others; and next to them, those who take in grassy commons,
imposing the cultivation of the ground on the people.'
The pupil of the eye the index of the heart.
1. Mencius said, 'Of all the parts of a man's body there is none more
excellent than the pupil of the eye. The pupil cannot be used to hide a
man's wickedness. If within the breast all be correct, the pupil is bright.
If within the breast all be not correct, the pupil is dull.
2. 'Listen to a man's words and look at the pupil of his eye. How can a
man conceal his character?'
Deeds, not words or manners, necessary to prove mental qualities.
Mencius said, 'The respectful do not despise others. The economical do
not plunder others. The prince who treats men with despite and plunders
them, is only afraid that they may not prove obedient to him:-- how can he
be regarded as respectful or economical? How can respectfulness and economy
be made out of tones of the voice, and a smiling manner?'
Help-- effectual help-- can be given to the world only in harmony with
right and propriety.
1. Shun-yü K'wan said, 'Is it the rule that males and females shall
not allow their hands to touch in giving or receiving anything?' Mencius
replied, 'It is the rule.' K'wan asked, 'If a man's sister-in-law be
drowning, shall he rescue her with his hand?' Mencius said, 'He who would
not so rescue the drowning woman is a wolf. For males and females not to
allow their hands to touch in giving and receiving is the general rule;
when a sister-in-law is drowning, to rescue her with the hand is a peculiar
2. K'wan said, 'The whole kingdom is drowning. How strange it is that you
will not rescue it!'
3. Mencius answered, 'A drowning kingdom must be rescued with right
principles, as a drowning sister-in-law has to be rescued with the hand. Do
you wish me to rescue the kingdom with my hand?'
How a father may not himself teach his son.
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Why is it that the superior man does
not himself teach his son?'
2. Mencius replied, 'The circumstances of the case forbid its being
done. The teacher must inculcate what is correct. When he inculcates what
is correct, and his lessons are not practised, he follows them up with
being angry. When he follows them up with being angry, then, contrary to
what should be, he is offended with his son. At the same time, the pupil
says, 'My master inculcates on me what is correct, and he himself does not
proceed in a correct path." The result of this is, that father and son are
offended with each other. When father and son come to be offended with each
other, the case is evil.
3. 'The ancients exchanged sons, and one taught the son of another.
4. 'Between father and son, there should be no reproving admonitions to
what is good. Such reproofs lead to alienation, and than alienation there
is nothing more inauspicious.'
The right manner of serving parents, and the importance of watching over
one's self, in order to do so.
1. Mencius said, 'Of services, which is the greatest? The service of
parents is the greatest. Of charges, which is the greatest ? The charge of
one's self is the greatest. That those who do not fail to keep themselves
are able to serve their parents is what I have heard. But I have never
heard of any, who, having failed to keep themselves, were able
notwithstanding to serve their parents.
2. 'There are many services, but the service of parents is the root of
all others. There are many charges, but the charge of one's self is the
root of all others.
3. 'The philosopher Tsang, in nourishing Tsang Hsî, was always
sure to have wine and flesh provided. And when they were being removed, he
would ask respectfully to whom he should give what was left. If his father
asked whether there was anything left, he was sure to say, "There is."
After the death of Tsing Hsî, when Tsang Yüan came to nourish
Tsing-tsze, he was always sure to have wine and flesh provided. But when
the things were being removed, he did not ask to whom he should give what
was left, and if his father asked whether there was anything left, he would
answer "No;"-- intending to bring them in again. This was what is called--
"nourishing the mouth and body." We may call Tsang-tsze's practice--
"nourishing the will."
4. 'To serve one's parents as Tsang-tsze served his, may be accepted as
A truly great minister will be seen in his directing his efforts, not to
correction of matters in detail, but of the sovereign's character.
Mencius said, 'It is not enough to remonstrate with a sovereign on
account of the mal-employment of ministers, nor to blame errors of
government. It is only the great man who can rectify what is wrong in the
sovereign's mind. Let the prince be benevolent, and all his acts will be
benevolent. Let the prince be righteous, and all his acts will be
righteous. Let the prince be correct, and everything will be correct. Once
rectify the ruler, and the kingdom will be firmly settled.'
Praise and blame are not always according to desert.
Mencius said, 'There are cases of praise which could not be expected,
and of reproach when the parties have been seeking to be perfect.'
The benefit of reproof.
Mencius said, 'Men's being ready with their tongues arises simply from
their not having been reproved.'
Be not many masters.
Mencius said, 'The evil of men is that they like to be teachers of
How Mencius reproved Yo-chang for associating with an unworthy person,
and being remiss in waiting on himself.
1. The disciple Yo-chang went in the train of Tsze-âo to
2. He came to see Mencius, who said to him, 'Are you also come to see
me?' Yo-chang replied, 'Master, why do you speak such words?' 'How many
days have you been here?' asked Mencius. 'I came yesterday.' 'Yesterday! Is
it not with reason then that I thus speak?' 'My lodging-house was not
arranged.' 'Have you heard that a scholar's lodging-house must be arranged
before he visit his elder?'
3. Yo-chang said, 'I have done wrong.'
A further and more direct reproof of Yo-chang.
Mencius, addressing the disciple Yo-chang, said to him, 'Your coming
here in the train of Tsze-âo was only because of the food and the
drink. I could not have thought that you, having learned the doctrine of
the ancients, would have acted with a view to eating and drinking.'
Shun's extraordinary way of contracting marriage justified by the
1. Mencius said, 'There are three things which are unfilial, and to have
no posterity is the greatest of them.
2. 'Shun married without informing his parents because of this,--
lest he should have no posterity. Superior men consider that his doing so
was the same as if he had informed them.'
Filial piety and fraternal obedience in their relation to benevolence,
righteousness, wisdom, propriety, and music.
1. Mencius said, 'The richest fruit of benevolence is this,-- the
service of one's parents. The richest fruit of righteousness is this,-- the
obeying one's elder brothers.
2. 'The richest fruit of wisdom is this,-- the knowing those two things,
and not departing from them. The richest fruit of propriety is this,-- the
ordering and adorning those two things. The richest fruit of music is
this,-- the rejoicing in those two things. When they are rejoiced in, they
grow. Growing, how can they be repressed? When they come to this state
that they cannot be repressed, then unconsciously the feet begin to dance
and the hands to move.'
How Shun valued and exemplified filial piety.
1. Mencius said, 'Suppose the case of the whole kingdom turning in great
delight to an individual to submit to him.-- To regard the whole kingdom
thus turning to him in great delight but as a bundle of grass;-- only Shun
was capable of this. He considered that if one could not get the hearts of
his parents he could not be considered a man, and that if he could not get
to an entire accord with his parents, he could not be considered a
2. 'By Shun's completely fulfilling everything by which a parent could
be served, Kû-sâu was brought to find delight in what was good.
When Kû-sâu was brought to find that delight, the whole kingdom
was transformed. When Kû-sâu was brought to find that delight,
all fathers and sons in the kingdom were established in their respective
duties. This is called great filial piety.'
Book IV, Part II:
The agreement of sages not affected by place or time.
1. Mencius said, 'Shun was born in Chû-fang, removed to
Fû-hsiâ, and died in Ming-t'iâo;-- a man near the wild
tribes on the east.
2. 'King Wan was born in Châu by mount Ch'î, and died in
Pî-ying;-- a man near the wild tribes on the west.
3. 'Those regions were distant from one another more than a thousand
lî, and the age of the one sage was posterior to that of the other
more than a thousand years. But when they got their wish, and carried their
principles into practice throughout the Middle Kingdom, it was like uniting
the two halves of a seal.
4. 'When we examine those sages, both the earlier and the later, their
principles are found to be the same.'
Good government lies in equal measures for the general good, not in acts
of favour to individuals.
1. When Tsze-ch'an was chief minister of the State of Chang, he
would convey people across the Chan and Wei in his own carriage.
2. Mencius said, 'It was kind, but showed that he did not understand the
practice of government.
3. 'When in the eleventh month of the year the foot-bridges are
completed, and the carriage-bridges in the twelfth month, the people have
not the trouble of wading.
4. 'Let a governor conduct his rule on principles of equal justice, and,
when he goes abroad, he may cause people to be removed out of his path. But
how can he convey everybody across the rivers?
5. 'It follows that if a governor will try to please everybody, he will
find the days not sufficient for his work.'
What treatment sovereigns give to their ministers will be returned to
them by a corresponding behavior.
1. Mencius said to the king Hsüan of Ch'î, 'When the prince
regards his ministers as his hands and feet, his ministers regard their
prince as their belly and heart; when he regards them as his dogs and
horses, they regard him as another man; when he regards them as the ground
or as grass, they regard him as a robber and an enemy.'
2. The king said, 'According to the rules of propriety, a minister wears
mourning when he has left the service of a prince. How must a prince
behave that his old ministers may thus go into mourning?'
3. Mencius replied,'The admonitions of a minister having been followed,
and his advice listened to, so that blessings have descended on the people,
if for some cause he leaves the country, the prince sends an escort to
conduct him beyond the boundaries. He also anticipates with recommendatory
intimations his arrival in the country to which he is proceeding. When he
has been gone three years and does not return, only then at length does he
take back his fields and residence. This treatment is what is called a
"thrice-repeated display of consideration." When a prince acts thus,
mourning will be worn on leaving his service.
4. 'Now-a-days, the remonstrances of a minister are not followed, and
his advice is not listened to, so that no blessings descend on the people.
When for any cause he leaves the country, the prince tries to seize him and
hold him a prisoner. He also pushes him to extremity in the country to
which he has gone, and on the very day of his departure, takes back his
fields and residence. This treatment shows him to be what we call "a robber
and an enemy." What mourning can be worn for a robber and an enemy?'
Prompt action is necessary at the right time.
Mencius said, 'When scholars are put to death without any crime, the
great officers may leave the country. When the people are slaughtered
without any crime, the scholars may remove.'
The influence of the ruler's example.
Mencius said, 'If the sovereign be benevolent, all will be benevolent.
If the sovereign be righteous, all will be righteous.'
The great man makes no mistakes in matters of propriety and
Mencius said, 'Acts of propriety which are not really proper, and acts
of righteousness which are not really righteous, the great man does not
What duties are due from, and must be renedered by, the virtuous and
Mencius said, 'Those who keep the Mean, train up those who do not, and
those who have abilities, train up those who have not, and hence men
rejoice in having fathers and elder brothers who are possessed of virtue
and talent. If they who keep the Mean spurn those who do not, and they who
have abilities spurn those who have not, then the space between them--
those so gifted and the ungifted-- will not admit an inch.'
Clear discrimination of what is wrong and right must precede vigorous
Mencius said, 'Men must be decided on what they will NOT do, and then
they are able to act with vigour in what they ought to do.'
Evil speaking is sure to bring with it evil consequences.
Mencius said, 'What future misery have they and ought they to endure,
who talk of what is not good in others!'
That Confucius kept the mean.
Mencius said, 'Chung-nî did not do extraordinary things.'
What is right is the supreme pursuit of the great man.
Mencius said,'The great man does not think beforehand of his words that
they may be sincere, nor of his actions that they may be resolute;-- he
simply speaks and does what is right.'
A man is great because he is childlike.
Mencius said, 'The great man is he who does not lose his
Filial piety seen in the obsequies of parents.
Mencius said, 'The nourishment of parents when living is not sufficient
to be accounted the great thing. It is only in the performing their
obsequies when dead that we have what can be considered the great
The value of learning thoroughly in-wrought into the mind.
Mencius said, 'The superior man makes his advances in what he is
learning with deep earnestness and by the proper course, wishing to get
hold of it as in himself. Having got hold of it in himself, he abides in it
calmly and firmly. Abiding in it calmly and firmly, he reposes a deep
reliance on it. Reposing a deep reliance on it, he seizes it on the left
and right, meeting everywhere with it as a fountain from which things flow.
It is on this account that the superior man wishes to get hold of what he
is learning as in himself.'
[A continuation of the last chapter.]
Mencius said, 'In learning extensively and discussing minutely what is
learned, the object of the superior man is that he may be able to go back
and set forth in brief what is essential.'
[The necessity of the heart in rulers.]
Mencius said, 'Never has he who would by his excellence subdue men been
able to subdue them. Let a prince seek by his excellence to nourish men,
and he will be able to subdue the whole kingdom. It is impossible that any
one should become ruler of the people to whom they have not yielded the
subjection of the heart.'
[Mencius's explanation of inaupicious words.]
Mencius said, 'Words which are not true are inauspicious, and the words
which are most truly obnoxious to the name of inauspicious, are those which
throw into the shade men of talents and virtue.'
How Mencius explained Confucius's praise of water.
1. The disciple Hsü said, 'Chung-nî often praised water,
saying, "0 water! 0 water!" What did he find in water to praise?'
2. Mencius replied, 'There is a spring of water; how it gushes out! It
rests not day nor night. It fills up every hole, and then advances, flowing
onto the four seas. Such is water having a spring! It was this which he
found in it to praise.
3. 'But suppose that the water has no spring.-- In the seventh and
eighth when the rain falls abundantly, the channels in the fields are all
filled, but their being dried up again may be expected in a short time. So
a superior man is ashamed of a reputation beyond his merits.'
Whereby sages are distinguished from other men;-- illustrated in Shun.
1. Mencius said, 'That whereby man differs from the lower animals is but
small. The mass of people cast it away, while superior men preserve
2. 'Shun clearly understood the multitude of things, and closely
observed the relations of humanity. He walked along the path of benevolence
and righteousness; he did not need to pursue benevolence and
The same subject;-- illustrated in Yü, T'ang, Wan, Wû, and
1. Mencius said, 'Yü hated the pleasant wine, and loved good
2. 'T'ang held fast the Mean, and employed men of talents and virtue
without regard to where they came from.
3. 'King Wan looked on the people as he would on a man who was wounded,
and he looked towards the right path as if he could not see it.
4. King Wû did not slight the near, and did not forget the
5. 'The duke of Châu desired to unite in himself the virtues of
those kings, those founders of the three dynasties, that he might display
in his practice the four things which they did. If he saw any thing in them
not suited to his time, he looked up and thought about it, from daytime
into the night, and when he was fortunate enough to master the difficulty,
he sat waiting for the morning.'
The same subject;-- illustrated in Confucius.
1. Mencius said, 'The traces of sovereign rule were extinguished, and
the royal odes ceased to be made. When those odes ceased to be made, then
the Ch'un Ch'iû was produced.
2. 'The Shang of Tsin, the Tâo-wû of Ch'û, and the
Ch'un Ch'iû of Lû were books of the same character.
3. 'The subject of the Ch'un Ch'iû was the affairs of Hwan of
Chî and Wan of Tsin, and its style was the historical. Confucius
said, "Its righteous decisions I ventured to make."'
The same subject;-- illustrated in Mencius himself.
1. Mencius said, 'The influence of a sovereign sage terminates in the
fifth generation. The influence of a mere sage does the same.
2. 'Although I could not be a disciple of Confucius himself, I have
endeavoured to cultivate my virtue by means of others who were.'
First judgments are not always correct. Impulses must be weighed in the
balance of reason, and what reason dictates must be followed.
Mencius said, 'When it appears proper to take a thing, and afterwards
not proper, to take it is contrary to moderation. When it appears proper to
give a thing and afterwards not proper, to give it is contrary to kindness.
When it appears proper to sacrifice one's life, and afterwards not proper,
to sacrifice it is contrary to bravery.'
The importance of being careful of whom we make friends.
1. P'ang Mang learned archery of Î. When he had acquired
completely all the science of Î, he thought that in all the kingdom
only Î was superior to himself, and so he slew him. Mencius said, 'In
this case Î also was to blame. Kung-ming Î indeed said, "It
would appear as if he were not to be blamed," but he thereby only meant
that his blame was slight. How can he be held without any blame?'
2. 'The people of Chang sent Tsze-cho Yü to make a stealthy attack
on Wei, which sent Yü-kung Sze to pursue him. Tsze-cho Yü said,
"To-day I feel unwell, so that I cannot hold my bow. I am a dead man!" At
the same time he asked his driver, "Who is it that is pursuing me?" The
driver said, "It is Yü-kung Sze," on which, he exclaimed, "I shall
live." The driver said, "Yü-kung Sze is the best archer of Wei, what
do you mean by saying 'I shall live?'" Yü replied, "Yü-kung Sze
learned archery from Yin-kung T'o, who again learned it from me. Now,
Yin-kung T'o is an upright man, and the friends of his selection must be
upright also." When Yü-kung Sze came up, he said, "Master, why are you
not holding your bow?" Yü answered him, "To-day I am feeling unwell,
and cannot hold my bow." On this Sze said, "I learned archery from Yin-kung
T'o, who again learned it from you. I cannot bear to injure you with your
own science. The business of to-day, however, is the prince's business,
which I dare not neglect." He then took his arrows, knocked off their steel
points against the carriage-wheel, discharged four of them, and
It is only moral beauty that is truly excellent and acceptable.
1. Mencius said, 'If the lady Hsî had been covered with a filthy
head-dress, all people would have stopped their noses in passing her.
2. 'Though a man may be wicked, yet if he adjust his thoughts, fast, and
bathe, he may sacrifice to God.'
How knowledge ought to be pursued by the careful study of phenomena.
1. Mencius said, 'All who speak about the natures of things, have in
fact only their phenomena to reason from, and the value of a phenomenon is
in its being natural.
2. 'What I dislike in your wise men is their boring out their
conclusions. If those wise men would only act as Yü did when he
conveyed away the waters, there would be nothing to dislike in their
wisdom. The manner in which Yü conveyed away the waters was by doing
what gave him no trouble. If your wise men would also do that which gave
them no trouble, their knowledge would also be great.
3. 'There is heaven so high; there are the stars so distant. If we have
investigated their phenomena, we may, while sitting in our places, go back
to the solstice of a thousand years ago.'
How Mencius would not imitate others in paying court to a favourite.
1. The officer Kung-hang having on hand the funeral of one of his sons,
the Master of the Right went to condole with him. When this noble entered
the door, some called him to them and spoke with him, and some went to his
place and spoke with him.
2. Mencius did not speak with him, so that he was displeased, and said,
'All the gentlemen have spoken with me. There is only Mencius who does not
speak to me, thereby slighting me.'
3. Mencius having heard of this remark, said, 'According to the
prescribed rules, in the court, individuals may not change their places to
speak with one another, nor may they pass from their ranks to bow to one
another. I was wishing to observe this rule, and Tsze-âo understands
it that I was slighting him:-- is not this strange?'
How the superior man is distinguished by the cultivation of moral
excellence, and is placed thereby beyond the reach of calamity.
1. Mencius said, 'That whereby the superior man is distinguished from
other men is what he preserves in his heart;-- namely, benevolence and
2. 'The benevolent man loves others. The man of propriety shows respect
3. 'He who loves others is constantly loved by them. He who respects
others is constantly respected by them.
4. 'Here is a man, who treats me in a perverse and unreasonable manner.
The superior man in such a case will turn round upon himself-- "I must have
been wanting in benevolence; I must have been wanting in propriety;-- how
should this have happened to me?"
5. He examines himself, and is specially benevolent. He turns round upon
himself, and is specially observant of propriety. The perversity and
unreasonableness of the other, however, are still the same. The superior
man will again turn round on himself-- "I must have been failing to do my
6. 'He turns round upon himself, and proceeds to do his utmost, but
still the perversity and unreasonableness of the other are repeated. On
this the superior man says, "This is a man utterly lost indeed! Since he
conducts himself so, what is there to choose between him and a brute? Why
should I go to contend with a brute?"
7. 'Thus it is that the superior man has a life-long anxiety and not one
morning's calamity. As to what is matter of anxiety to him, that indeed be
has.-- He says, "Shun was a man, and I also am a man. But Shun became an
example to all the kingdom, and his conduct was worthy to be handed down to
after ages, while I am nothing better than a villager." This indeed is the
proper matter of anxiety to him. And in what way is he anxious about it?
Just that he maybe like Shun:-- then only will he stop. As to what the
superior man would feel to be a calamity, there is no such thing. He does
nothing which is not according to propriety. If there should befall him one
morning's calamity, the superior man does not account it a calamity.'
A reconciling principle will be found to underlie the outwardly
different conduct of great and good men;-- in honour of Yen Hûi, with
a reference to Mencius himself.
1. Yü and Chî, in an age when the world was being brought
back to order, thrice passed their doors without entering them. Confucius
2. The disciple Yen, in an age of disorder, dwelt in a mean narrow lane,
having his single bamboo-cup of rice, and his single gourd-dish of water;
other men could not have endured the distress, but he did not allow his joy
to be affected by it. Confucius praised him.
3. Mencius said, 'Yü, Chî, and Yen Hûi agreed in the
principle of their conduct.
4. 'Yü thought that if any one in the kingdom were drowned, it was
as if he drowned him. Chî thought that if any one in the kingdom
suffered hunger, it was as if he famished him. It was on this account that
they were so earnest.
5. If Yü and Chî, and Yen-tsze, had exchanged places, each
would have done what the other did.
6. 'Here now in the same apartment with you are people fighting:-- you
ought to part them. Though you part them with your cap simply tied over
your unbound hair, your conduct will be allowable.
7. 'If the fighting be only in the village or neighbourhood, if
you go to put an end to it with your cap tied over your hair unbound, you
will be in error. Although you should shut your door in such a case, your
conduct would be allowable.'
How Mencius explained his friendly intercourse with a man charged with
1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'Throughout the whole kingdom
everybody pronounces K'wang Chang unfilial. But you, Master, keep company
with him, and moreover treat him with politeness. I venture to ask why you
2. Mencius replied, 'There are five things which are pronounced in the
common usage of the age to be unfilial. The first is laziness in the use of
one's four limbs, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The
second is gambling and chess-playiDg, and being fond of wine, without
attending to the nourishment of his parents. The third is being fond of
goods and money, and selfishly attached to his wife and children, without
attending to the nourishment of his parents. The fourth is following the
desires of one's ears and eyes, so as to bring his parents to disgrace. The
fifth is being fond of bravery, fighting and quarrelling so as to endanger
his parents. Is Chang guilty of any one of these things?
3. 'Now between Chang and his father there arose disagreement, he, the
son, reproving his father, to urge him to what was good.
4. 'To urge one another to what is good by reproofs is the way of
friends. But such urging between father and son is the greatest injury to
the kindness, which should prevail between them.
5. 'Moreover, did not Chang wish to have in his family the relationships
of husband and wife, child and mother? But because he had offended his
father, and was not permitted to approach him, he sent away his wife, and
drove forth his son, and all his life receives no cherishing attention from
them. He settled it in his mind that if he did not act in this way, his
would be one of the greatest of crimes.-- Such and nothing more is the case
How Mencius explained the different conduct of Tsang-tsze and of
Tsze-sze in similar circumstances.
1. When the philosopher Tsang dwelt in Wû-ch'ang, there came a
band from Yüeh to plunder it. Someone said to him, 'The plunderers are
coming:-- why not leave this?' Tsang on this left the city, saying to the
man in charge of the house, 'Do not lodge any persons in my house, lest
they break and injure the plants and trees.' When the plunderers withdrew,
he sent word to him, saying, 'Repair the walls of my house. I am about to
return.' When the plunderers retired, the philosopher Tsang returned
accordingly. His disciples said, 'Since our master was treated with so much
sincerity and respect, for him to be the first to go away on the arrival of
the plunderers, so as to be observed by the people, and then to return on
their retiring, appears to us to be improper.' Ch'an-yû Hsing said,
'You do not understand this matter. Formerly, when Ch'an-yû was
exposed to the outbreak of the grass-carriers, there were seventy disciples
in our master's following, and none of them took part in the matter.'
2. When Tsze-sze was living in Wei, there came a band from Ch'î to
plunder. Some one said to him, 'The plunderers are coming;-- why not leave
this?' Tsze-sze said, 'If I go away, whom will the prince have to guard the
3. Mencius said, 'The philosophers Tsang and Tsze-sze agreed in the
principle of their conduct. Tsang was a teacher;-- in the place of a father
or elder brother. Tsze-sze was a minister;-- in a meaner place. If the
philosophers Tsang and Tsze-sze had exchanged places the one would have
done what the other did.'
Sages are just like other men.
The officer Ch'û said to Mencius, 'Master, the king sent persons
to spy out whether you were really different from other men.' Mencius said,
'How should I be different from other men? Yâo and Shun were just the
same as other men.'
The disgraceful means which some men take to seek for their living, and
1. A man of Ch'î had a wife and a concubine, and lived together
with them in his house. When their husband went out, he would get himself
well filled with wine and flesh, and then return, and, on his wife's asking
him with whom he ate and drank, they were sure to be all wealthy and
honourable people. The wife informed the concubine, saying, 'When our good
man goes out, he is sure to come back having partaken plentifully of wine
and flesh. I asked with whom he ate and drank, and they are all, it seems,
wealthy and honourable people. And yet no people of distinction ever come
here. I will spy out where our good man goes.' Accordingly, she got up
early in the morning, and privately followed wherever her husband went.
Throughout the whole city, there was no one who stood or talked with him.
At last, he came to those who were sacrificing among the tombs beyond the
outer wall on the east, and begged what they had over. Not being satisfied,
he looked about, and went to another party;-- and this was the way in which
he got himself satiated. His wife returned, and informed the concubine,
saying, 'It was to our husband that we looked up in hopeful contemplation,
with whom our lot is cast for life;-- and now these are his ways!' On this,
along with the concubine she reviled their husband, and they wept together
in the middle hall. In the meantime the husband, knowing nothing of all
this, came in with a jaunty air, carrying himself proudly to his wife and
2. In the view of a superior man, as to the ways by which men seek for
riches, honours, gain, and advancement, there are few of their wives and
concubines who would not be ashamed and weep together on account of
Book V, Part I:
Shun's great filial piety:-- how it carried him into the fields to weep
and deplore his inability to secure the affection and sympathy of his
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'When Shun went into the
fields, he cried out and wept towards the pitying heavens. Why did he cry
out and weep?' Mencius replied, 'He was dissatisfied, and full of earnest
2. Wan Chang said, 'When his parents love him, a son rejoices and
forgets them not. When his parents hate him, though they punish him, he
does not murmur. Was Shun then murmuring against his parents?' Mencius
answered, 'Ch'ang Hsî asked Kung-ming Kâo, saying, "As to
Shun's going into the fields, I have received your instructions, but I do
not know about his weeping and crying out to the pitying heavens and to his
parents." Kung-ming Kâo answered him, "You do not understand that
matter." Now, Kung-ming Kâo supposed that the heart of the filial son
could not be so free of sorrow. Shun would say, "I exert my strength to
cultivate the fields, but I am thereby only discharging my office as a son.
What can there be in me that my parents do not love me?"
3. 'The Tî caused his own children, nine sons and two daughters,
the various officers, oxen and sheep, storehouses and granaries, all to be
prepared, to serve Shun amid the channelled fields. Of the scholars of the
kingdom there were multitudes who flocked to him. The sovereign designed
that Shun should superintend the kingdom along with him, and then to
transfer it to him entirely. But because his parents were not in accord
with him, he felt like a poor man who has nowhere to turn to.
4. 'To be delighted in by all the scholars of the kingdom, is what men
desire, but it was not sufficient to remove the sorrow of Shun. The
possession of beauty is what men desire, and Shun had for his wives the two
daughters of the Tî, but this was not sufficient to remove his sorrow.
Riches are what men desire, and the kingdom was the rich property of Shun,
but this was not sufficient to remove his sorrow. Honours are what men
desire, and Shun had the dignity of being sovereign, but this was not
sufficient to remove his sorrow. The reason why the being the object of
men's delight, with the possession of beauty, riches, and honours were not
sufficient to remove his sorrow, was that it could be removed only by his
getting his parents to be in accord with him.
5. 'The desire of the child is towards his father and mother. When he
becomes conscious of the attractions of beauty, his desire is towards young
and beautiful women. When he comes to have a wife and children, his desire
is towards them. When he obtains office, his desire is towards his
sovereign:-- if he cannot get the regard of his sovereign, he burns within.
But the man of great filial piety, to the end of his life, has his desire
towards his parents. In the great Shun I see the case of one whose desire
at fifty year's was towards them.'
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'It is said in the Book of
"In marrying a wife, how ought a man to proceed?
He must inform his parents."
If the rule be indeed as here expressed, no man ought
to have illustrated it so well as Shun. How was it that Shun's marriage
took place without his informing his parents?' Mencius replied, 'If he had
informed them, he would not have been able to marry. That male and female
should dwell together, is the greatest of human relations. If Shun had
informed his parents, he must have made void this greatest of human
relations, thereby incurring their resentment. On this account, he did not
2. Wan Chang said, 'As to Shun's marrying without informing his parents,
I have heard your instructions; but how was it that the Tî Yâo
gave him his daughters as wives without informing Shun's parents?' Mencius
said, 'The Tî also knew that if he informed them, he could not marry
his daughters to him.'
3. Wan Chang said, 'His parents set Shun to repair a granary, to which,
the ladder having been removed, Kû-sâu set fire. They also made
him dig a well. He got out, but they, not knowing that, proceeded to cover
him up. Hsiang said, "Of the scheme to cover up the city-forming prince,
the merit is all mine. Let my parents have his oxen and sheep. Let them
have his storehouses and granaries. His shield and spear shall be mine. His
lute shall be mine. His bow shall be mine. His two wives I shall make
attend for me to my bed." Hsiang then went away into Shun's palace, and
there was Shun on his couch playing on his lute. Hsiang said, "I am come
simply because I was thinking anxiously about you." At the same time, he
blushed deeply. Shun said to him, "There are all my officers:-- do you
undertake the government of them for me." I do not know whether Shun was
ignorant of Hsiang's wishing to kill him.' Mencius answered, 'How could he
be ignorant of that? But when Hsiang was sorrowful, he was also sorrowful;
when Hsiang was joyful, he was also joyful.'
4. Chang said, 'In that case, then, did not Shun rejoice
hypocritically?' Mencius replied, 'No. Formerly, some one sent a present
of a live fish to Tsze-ch'an of Chang. Tsze-ch'an ordered his pond-keeper
to keep it in the pond, but that officer cooked it, and reported the
execution of his commission, saying, "When I first let it go, it
embarrassed. In a little while, it seemed to be somewhat at ease, then it
swam away joyfully." Tsze-ch'an observed, "It had got into its element! It
had got into its element!" The pond-keeper then went out and said, "Who
calls Tsze-ch'an a wise man? After I had cooked and eaten the fish, he
says, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!" Thus a
superior man may be imposed on by what seems to be as it ought to be, but
he cannot be entrapped by what is contrary to right principle. Hsiang came
in the way in which the love of his elder brother would have made him come;
therefore Shun sincerely believed him, and rejoiced. What hypocrisy was
Explanation and defence of Shun's conduct in the case of his wicked
brother Hsiang;-- how he both distinguished him, and kept him under
1. Wan Chang said, 'Hsiang made it his daily business to slay Shun. When
Shun was made sovereign, how was it that he only banished him?' Mencius
said, 'He raised him to be a prince. Some supposed that it was banishing
2. Wan Chang said, 'Shun banished the superintendent of works to
Yû-châu; he sent away Hwan-tâu to the mountain Ch'ung; he
slew the prince of San-miâo in San-wei; and he imprisoned Kwân
on the mountain Yü. When the crimes of those four were thus punished,
the whole kingdom acquiesced:-- it was a cutting off of men who were
destitute of benevolence. But Hsiang was of all men the most destitute of
benevolence, and Shun raised him to be the prince of Yû-pî;--
of what crimes had the people of Yû-pî been guilty? Does a
benevolent man really act thus? In the case of other men, he cut them off;
in the case of his brother, he raised him to be a prince.' Mencius replied,
'A benevolent man does not lay up anger, nor cherish resentment against his
brother, but only regards him with affection and love. Regarding him with
affection, he wishes him to be honourable: regarding him with love, he
wishes him to be rich. The appointment of Hsiang to be the prince of
Yû-pî was to enrich and ennoble him. If while Shun himself was
sovereign, his brother had been a common man, could he have been said to
regard him with affection and love?'
3. Wan Chang said, 'I venture to ask what you mean by saying that some
supposed that it was a banishing of Hsiang?' Mencius replied, 'Hsiang
could do nothing in his State. The Son of Heaven appointed an officer to
administer its government, and to pay over its revenues to him. This
treatment of him led to its being said that he was banished. How indeed
could he be allowed the means of oppressing the people? Nevertheless, Shun
wished to be continually seeing him, and by this arrangement, he came
incessantly to court, as is signified in that expression-- "He did not wait
for the rendering of tribute, or affairs of government, to receive the
prince of Yû-pî.
Explanation of Shun's conduct with reference to the sovereign Yâo,
and his father Kû-sâu.
1. Hsien-ch'iû Mang asked Mencius, saying, 'There is the saying,
"A scholar of complete virtue may not be employed as a minister by his
sovereign, nor treated as a son by his father. Shun stood with his face to
the south, and Yâo, at the head of all the princes, appeared before
him at court with his face to the north. Kû-sâu also did the
same. When Shun saw Kû-sâu, his countenance became discomposed.
Confucius said, At this time, in what a perilous condition was the kingdom!
Its state was indeed unsettled."-- I do not know whether what is here said
really took place.' Mencius replied, 'No. These are not the words of a
superior man. They are the sayings of an uncultivated person of the east of
Ch'î. When Yâo was old, Shun was associated with him in the
government. It is said in the Canon of Yâo, "After twenty and eight
years, the Highly Meritorious one deceased. The people acted as if they
were mourning for a father or mother for three years, and up to the borders
of the four seas every sound of music was hushed." Confucius said, "There
are not two suns in the sky, nor two sovereigns over the people." Shun
having been sovereign, and, moreover, leading on all the princes to observe
the three years' mourning for Yâo, there would have been in this case
2. Hsien-ch'iû Mang said, 'On the point of Shun's not treating
Yâo as a minister, I have received your instructions. But it is said
in the Book of Poetry,
Under the whole heaven,
Every spot is the sovereign's ground;
To the borders of the land,
Every individual is the sovereign's minister;"
-- and Shun had become sovereign. I venture to ask how
it was that Kû-sâu was not one of his ministers.' Mencius
answered, 'That ode is not to be understood in that way:-- it speaks of
being laboriously engaged in the sovereign's business, so as not to be able
to nourish one's parents, as if the author said, "This is all the
sovereign's business, and how is it that I alone am supposed to have
ability, and am made to toil in it?" Therefore, those who explain the odes,
may not insist on one term so as to do violence to a sentence, nor on a
sentence so as to do violence to the general scope. They must try with
their thoughts to meet that scope, and then we shall apprehend it. If we
simply take single sentences, there is that in the ode called "The Milky
Of the black-haired people of the remnant of Châu,
There is not half a one left."
If it had been really as thus expressed, then not an
individual of the people of Châu was left.
3. 'Of all which a filial son can attain to, there is nothing greater
than his honouring his parents. And of what can be attained to in the
honouring one's parents, there is nothing greater than the nourishing them
with the whole kingdom. Kû-sâu was the father of the
sovereign;-- this was the height of honour. Shun nourished him with the
whole kingdom;-- this was the height of nourishing. In this was verified
the sentiment in the Book of Poetry,
"Ever cherishing filial thoughts,
Those filial thoughts became an example to after ages."
4. 'It is said in the Book of History, "Reverently performing his
duties, he waited on Kû-sâu, and was full of veneration and
awe. Kû-sâu also believed him and conformed to virtue."-- This
is the true case of the scholar of complete virtue not being treated as a
son by his father.'
How Shun got the throne by the gift of Heaven. Vox Populi vox Dei.
1. Wan Chang said, 'Was it the case that Yâo gave the throne to
Shun?' Mencius said, 'No. The sovereign cannot give the throne to
2. 'Yes;-- but Shun had the throne. Who gave it to him?' 'Heaven gave it
to him,' was the answer.
3. '" Heaven gave it to him:"-- did Heaven confer its appointment on him
with specific injunctions?'
4. Mencius replied, 'No. Heaven does not speak. It simply showed its will
by his personal conduct and his conduct of affairs.'
5. '"It showed its will by his personal conduct and his conduct of
affairs:"-- how was this?' Mencius's answer was, 'The sovereign can present
a man to Heaven, but he cannot make Heaven give that man the throne. A
prince can present a man to the sovereign, but he cannot cause the
sovereign to make that man a prince. A great officer can present a man to
his prince, but he cannot cause the prince to make that man a great
officer. Yâo presented Shun to Heaven, and Heaven accepted him. He
presented him to the people, and the people accepted him. Therefore I say,
"Heaven does not speak. It simply indicated its will by his personal
conduct and his conduct of affairs."'
6. Chang said, 'I presume to ask how it was that Yâo presented
Shun to Heaven, and Heaven accepted him; and that he exhibited him to the
people, and the people accepted him.' Mencius replied, 'He caused him to
preside over the sacrifices, and all the spirits were well pleased with
them;-- thus Heaven accepted him. He caused him to preside over the conduct
of affairs, and affairs were well administered, so that the people reposed
under him;-- thus the people accepted him. Heaven gave the throne to him.
The people gave it to him. Therefore I said, "The sovereign cannot give the
throne to another."
7. 'Shun assisted Yâo in the government for twenty and eight
years;-- this was more than man could have done, and was from Heaven. After
the death of Yâo, when the three years' mourning was completed, Shun
withdrew from the son of Yâo to the south of South river. The princes
of the kingdom, however, repairing to court, went not to the son of
Yâo, but they went to Shun. Litigants went not to the son of
Yâo, but they went to Shun. Singers sang not the son of Yâo,
but they sang Shun. Therefore I said, "Heaven gave him the throne." It was
after these things that he went to the Middle Kingdom, and occupied the
seat of the Son of Heaven. If he had, before these things, taken up his
residence in the palace of Yâo, and had applied pressure to the son
of Yâo, it would have been an act of usurpation, and not the gift of
8. 'This sentiment is expressed in the words of The Great Declaration,--
"Heaven sees according as my people see; Heaven hears according as my people
How the throne descended from Yü to his son, and not to his
minister Yî; that Yü was not to be considered on that account
as inferior in virtue to Yâo and Shun.
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'People say, "When the disposal of
the kingdom came to Yü, his virtue was inferior to that of Yâo
and Shun, and he transmitted it not to the worthiest but to his son." Was
it so?' Mencius replied, 'No; it was not so. When Heaven gave the kingdom
to the worthiest, it was given to the worthiest. When Heaven gave it to the
son of the preceding sovereign, it was given to him. Shun presented Yü
to Heaven. Seventeen years elapsed, and Shun died. When the three years'
mourning was expired, Yü withdrew from the son of Shun to Yang-ch'ang.
The people of the kingdom followed him just as after the death of
Yâo, instead of following his son, they had followed Shun. Yü
presented Yî to Heaven. Seven years elapsed, and Yü died. When
the three years' mourning was expired, Yî withdrew from the son of
Yü to the north of mount Ch'î. The princes, repairing to court,
went not to Yî, but they went to Ch'î. Litigants did not go to
Yî, but they went to Ch'î, saying, "He is the son of our
sovereign;" the singers did not sing Yî, but they sang Ch'î,
saying, "He is the son of our sovereign."
2. 'That Tan-chû was not equal to his father, and Shun's son not
equal to his; that Shun assisted Yâo, and Yü assisted Shun, for
many years, conferring benefits on the people for a long time; that thus
the length of time during which Shun, Yü, and Yî assisted in the
government was so different; that Ch'î was able, as a man of talents
and virtue, reverently to pursue the same course as Yü; that Yî
assisted Yü only for a few years, and had not long conferred benefits
on the people; that the periods of service of the three were so different;
and that the sons were one superior, and the other superior:-- all this was
from Heaven, and what could not be brought about by man. That which is done
without man's doing is from Heaven. That which happens without man's
causing is from the ordinance of Heaven.
3. 'In the case of a private individual obtaining the throne, there must
be in him virtue equal to that of Shun or Yü; and moreover there must
be the presenting of him to Heaven by the preceding sovereign. It was on
this account that Confucius did not obtain the throne.
4. 'When the kingdom is possessed by natural succession, the sovereign
who is displaced by Heaven must be like Chieh or Châu. It was on this
account that Yî, Î Yin, and Châu-kung did not obtain the
5. 'Î Yin assisted T'ang so that he became sovereign over the
kingdom. After the demise of T'ang, T'âi-ting having died before he
could be appointed sovereign, Wâ'i-ping reigned two years, and
Chung-zin four. T'âi-chiâ was then turning upside down the
statutes of T'ang, when Î Yin placed him in T'ung for three years.
There T'âi-chiâ repented of his errors, was contrite, and
reformed himself. In T'ung be came to dwell in benevolence and walk in
righteousness, during those threee years, listening to the lessons given to
him by Î Yin. Then Î Yin again returned with him to Po.
6. 'Châu-kung not getting the throne was like the case of Yî
and the throne of Hsiâ, or like that of Î Yin and the throne of
7. 'Confucius said, "T'ang and Yü resigned the throne to their
worthy ministers. The sovereign of Hsiâ and those of Yin and
Châu transmitted it to their sons. The principle of righteousness was
the same in all the cases."'
Vindication of Î Yin from the charge of introducing himself to the
service of T'ang by an unworthy artifice.
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'People say that Î Yin
sought an introduction to T'ang by his knowledge of cookery. Was it
2. Mencius replied, 'No, it was not so. Î Yin was a farmer in the
lands of the prince of Hsin, delighting in the principles of Yâo and
Shun. In any matter contrary to the righteousness which they prescribed, or
contrary to their principles, though he had been offered the throne, he
would not have regarded it; though there had been yoked for him a thousand
teams of horses, he would not have looked at them. In any matter contrary
to the righteousness which they prescribed, or contrary to their
principles, he would neither have given nor taken a single straw.
3. 'T'ang sent persons with presents of silk to entreat him to enter his
service. With an air of indifference and self-satisfaction he said, "What
can I do with those silks with which T'ang invites me? Is it not best for
me to abide in the channelled fields, and so delight myself with the
principles of Yâo and Shun?"
4. 'T'ang thrice sent messengers to invite him. After this, with the
change of resolution displayed in his countenance, he spoke in a different
style,-- "Instead of abiding in the channelled fields and thereby
delighting myself with the principles of Yâo and Shun, had I not
better make this prince a prince like Yâo or Shun, and this people
like the people of Yâo or Shun ? Had I not better in my own person
see these things for myself?
5. '"Heaven's plan in the production of mankind is this:-- that they who
are first informed should instruct those who are later in being informed,
and they who first apprehend principles should instruct those who are
slower to do so. I am one of Heaven's people who have first apprehended;--
I will take these principles and instruct this people in them. If I do not
instruct them, who will do so?"
6. 'He thought that among all the people of the kingdom, even the
private men and women, if there were any who did not enjoy such benefits as
Yâo and Shun conferred, it was as if he himself pushed them into a
ditch. He took upon himself the heavy charge of the kingdom in this way,
and therefore he went to T'ang, and pressed upon him the subject of
attacking Hsiâ and saving the people.
7. 'I have not heard of one who bent himself, and at the same time made
others straight;-- how much less could one disgrace himself, and thereby
rectify the whole kingdom? The actions of the sages have been different.
Some have kept remote from court, and some have drawn near to it; some have
left their offices, and some have not done so:-- that to which those
different courses all agree is simply the keeping of their persons
8. 'I have heard that Î Yin sought an introduction to T'ang by the
doctrines of Yâo and Shun. I have not heard that he did so by his
knowledge of cookery.
9. 'In the "Instructions of Î," it is said, "Heaven destroying
Chieh commenced attacking him in the palace of Mû. I commenced in
Vindication of Confucius from the charge of lodging with unworthy
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'Some say that Confucius, when he
was in Wei, lived with the ulcer-doctor, and when he was in Ch'î,
with the attendant, Ch'î Hwan;-- was it so?' Mencius replied, 'No; it
was not so. Those are the inventions of men fond of strange things.
2. 'When he was in Wei, he lived with Yen Ch'âu-yû. The
wives of the officer Mî and Tsze-lû were sisters, and Mî
told Tsze-lû, "If Confucius will lodge with me, he may attain to the
dignity of a high noble of Wei." Tsze-lû informed Confucius of this,
and he said, "That is as ordered by Heaven." Confucius went into office
according to propriety, and retired from it according to righteousness. In
regard to his obtaining office or not obtaining it, he said, "That is as
ordered." But if he had lodged with the attendant Chî Hwan, that
would neither have been according to righteousness, nor any ordering of
3. 'When Confucius, being dissatisfied in Lû and Wei, had left those
States, he met with the attempt of Hwan, the Master of the Horse, of Sung,
to intercept and kill him. He assumed, however, the dress of a common man,
and passed by Sung. At that time, though he was in circumstances of
distress, he lodged with the city-master Ch'ang, who was then a minister of
Châu, the marquis of Ch'an.
4. 'I have heard that the characters of ministers about court may be
discerned from those whom they entertain, and those of stranger officers,
from those with whom they lodge. If Confucius had lodged with the
ulcer-doctor, and with the attendant Chî Hwan, how could he have been
Vindication of Pâi-lî Hsî from the charge of selling
himself as a step to his advancement.
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, 'Some say that Pâi-lî Hsî
sold himself to a cattle-keeper of Ch'in for the skins of five rams, and
fed his oxen, in order to find an introduction to the duke Mû of
Ch'in;-- was this the case?' Mencius said, 'No; it was not so. This story
was invented by men fond of strange things.
2. 'Pâi-lî Hsî was a man of Yü. The people of
Tsin, by the inducement of a round piece of jade from
Ch'ûi-chî, and four horses of the Ch'ü breed, borrowed a
passage through Yü to attack Kwo. On that occasion, Kung
Chih-ch'î remonstrated against granting their request, and
Pâi-lî Hsî did not remonstrate.
3. 'When he knew that the duke of Yü was not to be remonstrated
with, and, leaving that State, went to Ch'in, he had reached the age of
seventy. If by that time he did not know that it would be a mean thing to
seek an introduction to the duke Mû of Ch'in by feeding oxen, could
he be called wise? But not remonstrating where it was of no use to
remonstrate, could he be said not to be wise? Knowing that the duke of
Yü would be ruined, and leaving him before that event, he cannot be
said not to have been wise. Being then advanced in Ch'in, he knew that the
duke Mû was one with whom he would enjoy a field for action, and
became minister to him;-- could he, acting thus, be said not to be wise?
Having become chief minister of Ch'in, he made his prince distinguished
throughout the kingdom, and worthy of being handed down to future ages;--
could he have done this, if he had not been a man of talents and virtue? As
to selling himself in order to accomplish all the aims of his prince, even
a villager who had a regard for himself would not do such a thing; and
shall we say that a man of talents and virtue did it?'
Book V, Part II:
How Confucius differed from and was superior to all other sages.
1. Mencius said, 'Po-î would not allow his eyes to look on a bad
sight, nor his ears to listen to a bad sound. He would not serve a prince
whom he did not approve, nor command a people whom he did not esteem. In a
time of good government he took office, and on the occurrence of confusion
he retired. He could not bear to dwell either in a court from which a
lawless government emanated, or among lawless people. He considered his
being in the same place with a villager, as if he were to sit amid mud and
coals with his court robes and court cap. In the time of Châu he
dwelt on the shores of the North sea, waiting the purification of the
kingdom. Therefore when men now hear the character of Po-î, the
corrupt become pure, and the weak acquire determination.
2. 'Î Yin said, "Whom may I not serve? My serving him makes him my
sovereign. What people may I not command? My commanding them makes them my
people." In a time of good government he took office, and when confusion
prevailed, he also took office. He said, "Heaven's plan in the production
of mankind is this:-- that they who are first informed should instruct
those who are later in being informed, and they who first apprehend
principles should instruct those who are slower in doing so. I am the one
of Heaven's people who has first apprehended;-- I will take these
principles and instruct the people in them." He thought that among all the
people of the kingdom, even the common men and women, if there were any who
did not share in the enjoyment of such benefits as Yâo and Shun
conferred, it was as if he himself pushed them into a ditch;-- for he took
upon himself the heavy charge of the kingdom.
3. 'Hûi of Liû-hsiâ was not ashamed to serve an impure
prince, nor did he think it low to be an inferior officer. When advanced to
employment, he did not conceal his virtue, but made it a point to carry out
his principles. When dismissed and left without office, he did not murmur.
When straitened by poverty, he did not grieve. When thrown into the company
of village people, he was quite at ease and could not bear to leave them.
He had a saying, "You are you, and I am I. Although you stand by my side
with breast and arms bare, or with your body naked, how can you defile me?"
Therefore when men now hear the character of Hûi of
Liü-hsiâ, the mean become generous, and the niggardly become
4. 'When Confucius was leaving Ch'î, he strained off with his
hand the water in which his rice was being rinsed, took the rice, and went
away. When he left Lû, he said, "I will set out by-and-by:"-- it was
right he should leave the country of his parents in this way. When it was
proper to go away quickly, he did so; when it was proper to delay, he did
so; when it was proper to keep in retirement, he did so; when it was proper
to go into office, he did so:-- this was Confucius.'
5. Mencius said,'Po-î among the sages was the pure one; Î
Yin was the one most inclined to take office; Hûi of
Liû-hsiâ was the accommodating one; and Confucius was the
6. 'In Confucius we have what is called a complete concert. A complete
concert is when the large bell proclaims the commencement of the music, and
the ringing stone proclaims its close. The metal sound commences the
blended harmony of all the instruments, and the winding up with the stone
terminates that blended harmony. The commencing that harmony is the work of
wisdom. The terminating it is the work of sageness.
7. 'As a comparison for wisdom, we may liken it to skill, and as a
comparison for sageness, we may liken it to strength;-- as in the case of
shooting at a mark a hundred paces distant. That you reach it is owing to
your strength, but that you hit the mark is not owing to your
The arrangement of dignities and emoluments according to the dynasty of
1. Pêi-kung Î asked Mencius, saying, 'What was the
arrangement of dignities and emoluments determined by the House of
2. Mencius replied, 'The particulars of that arrangement cannot be
learned, for the princes, disliking them as injurious to themselves, have
all made away with the records of them. Still I have learned the general
outline of them.
3. 'The SON OF HEAVEN
constituted one dignity; the KUNG
one; the HÂU one; the
PÂI one; and the
TSZE and the NAN
each one of equal rank:-- altogether making five degrees of rank. The
RULER again constituted one dignity; the
CHIEF MINISTER one; the
GREAT OFFICERS one; the
SCHOLARS OF THE FIRST CLASS one;
THOSE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS one; and
THOSE OF THE LOWEST CLASS one:-- altogether
making six degrees of dignity.
4. 'To the Son of Heaven there was allotted a territory of a thousand
lî square. A Kung and a Hâu had each a hundred lî square.
A Pâi had seventy lî, and a Tsze and a Nan had each fifty
lî. The assignments altogether were of four amounts. Where the
territory did not amount to fiftylî, the chief could not have access
himself to the Son of Heaven. His land was attached to some Hâu-ship,
and was called a FÛ-YUNG.
5. 'The Chief ministers of the Son of Heaven received an amount of
territory equal to that of a Hâu; a Great officer received as much as
a Pâi; and a scholar of the first class as much as a Tsze or a
6. 'In a great State, where the territory was a hundred lî square,
the ruler had ten times as much income as his Chief ministers; a Chief
minister four times as much as a Great officer; a Great officer twice as
much as a scholar of the first class; a scholar of the first class twice as
much as one of the middle; a scholar of the middle class twice as much as
one of the lowest; the scholars of the lowest class, and such of the common
people as were employed about the government offices, had for their
emolument as much as was equal to what they would have made by tilling the
7. 'In a State of the next order, where the territory was seventy
lî square, the ruler had ten times as much revenue as his Chief
minister; a Chief minister three times as much as a Great officer; a Great
officer twice as much as a scholar of the first class; a scholar of the
first class twice as much as one of the middle; a scholar of the middle
class twice as much as one of the lowest; the scholars of the lowest class,
and such of the common people as were employed about the government
offices, had for their emolument as much as was equal to what they would
have made by tilling the fields.
8. 'In a small State, where the territory was fifty lî square, the
ruler had ten times as much revenue as his Chief minister; a Chief minister
had twice as much as a Great officer; a Great officer twice as much as a
scholar of the highest class; a scholar of the highest class twice as much
as one of the middle; a scholar of the middle class twice as much as one of
the lowest; scholars of the lowest class, and such of the common people as
were employed about the government offices, had the same emolument;-- as
much, namely, as was equal to what they would have made by tilling the
9. 'As to those who tilled the fields, each husbandman received a
hundred mâu. When those mâu were manured, the best husbandmen
of the highest class supported nine individuals, and those ranking next to
them supported eight. The best husbandmen of the second class supported
seven individuals, and those ranking next to them supported six; while
husbandmen of the lowest class only supported five. The salaries of the
common people who were employed about the government offices were regulated
according to these differences.'
Friendship must have reference to the virtue of the friend. There may be
no assumption on the groundof one's own advantages.
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'I venture to ask the principles of
friendship.' Mencius replied, 'Friendship should be maintained without any
presumption on the ground of one's superior age, or station, or the
circumstances of his relatives. Friendship with a man is friendship with
his virtue, and does not admit of assumptions of superiority.
2. 'There was Mang Hsien, chief of a family of a hundred chariots. He
had five friends, namely, Yo-chang Chiû, Mû Chung, and three
others whose names I have forgotten. With those five men Hsien maintained a
friendship, because they thought nothing about his family. If they had
thought about his family, he would not have maintained his friendship with
3. 'Not only has the chief of a family of a hundred chariots acted thus.
The same thing was exemplified by the sovereign of a small State. The duke
Hûi of Pî said, "I treat Tsze-sze as my Teacher, and Yen Pan as
my Friend. As to Wang Shun and Ch'ang Hsî, they serve me."
4. 'Not only has the sovereign of a small State acted thus. The same
thing has been exemplified by the sovereign of a large State. There was the
duke P'ing of Tsin with Hâi T'ang:-- when T'ang told him to come into
his house, he came; when he told him to be seated, he sat; when he told him
to eat, he ate. There might only be coarse rice and soup of vegetables, but
he always ate his fill, not daring to do otherwise. Here, however, he
stopped, and went no farther. He did not call him to share any of Heaven's
places, or to govern any of Heaven's offices, or to partake of any of
Heaven's emoluments. His conduct was but a scholar's honouring virtue and
talents, not the honouring them proper to a king or a duke.
5. 'Shun went up to court and saw the sovereign, who lodged him as his
son-in-law in the second palace. The sovereign also enjoyed there Shun's
hospitality. Alternately he was host and guest. Here was the sovereign
maintaining friendship with a private man.
6. Respect shown by inferiors to superiors is called giving to the noble
the observance due to rank. Respect shown by superiors to inferiors is
called giving honour to talents and virtue. The rightness in each case is
How Mencius defended the accepting presents from the princes, oppressors
of the people.
1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'I venture to ask what
feeling of the mind is expressed in the presents of friendship?' Mencius
replied, 'The feeling of respect.'
2. 'How is it,' pursued Chang, 'that the declining a present is
accounted disrespectful?' The answer was, 'When one of honourable rank
presents a gift, to say in the mind, "Was the way in which he got this
righteous or not? I must know this before I can receive it;"-- this is
deemed disrespectful, and therefore presents are not declined.'
3. Wan Chang asked again, 'When one does not take on him in so many
express words to refuse the gift, but having declined it in his heart,
saying, "It was taken by him unrighteously from the people," and then
assigns some other reason for not receiving it;-- is not this a proper
course?' Mencius said, 'When the donor offers it on a ground of reason, and
his manner of doing so is according to propriety;-- in such a case
Confucius would have received it.'
4. Wan Chang said, 'Here now is one who stops and robs people outside
the gates of the city. He offers his gift on a ground of reason, and does
so in a manner according to propriety;-- would the reception of it so
acquired by robbery be proper?' Mencius replied, 'It would not be proper.
in "The Announcement to Kang" it is said, "When men kill others, and roll
over their bodies to take their property, being reckless and fearless of
death, among all the people there are none but detest them:"-- thus, such
characters are to be put to death, without waiting to give them warning.
Yin received this rule from Hsiâ and Châu received it from Yin.
It cannot be questioned, and to the present day is clearly acknowledged.
How can the grift of a robber be received?'
5. Chang said, 'The princes of the present day take from their people
just as a robber despoils his victim. Yet if they put a good face of
propriety on their gifts, then the superior man receives them. I venture to
ask how you explain this.' Mencius answered, 'Do you think that, if there
should arise a truly royal sovereign, he would collect the princes of the
present day, and put them all to death? Or would he admonish them, and
then, on their not changing their ways, put them to death? Indeed, to call
every one who takes what does not properly belong to him a robber, is
pushing a point of resemblance to the utmost, and insisting on the most
refined idea of righteousness. When Confucius was in office in Lû,
the people struggled together for the game taken in hunting, and he also
did the same. If that struggling for the captured game was proper, how much
more may the gifts of the princes be received!'
6. Chang urged, 'Then are we to suppose that when Confucius held office, it
was not with the view to carry his doctrines into practice?' 'It was with
that view,' Mencius replied, and Chang rejoined, 'If the practice of his
doctrines was his business, what had he to do with that struggling for the
captured game?' Mencius said, 'Confucius first rectified his vessels of
sacrifice according to the registers, and did not fill them so rectified
with food gathered from every quarter.' 'But why did he not go away?' He
wished to make a trial of carrying his doctrines into practice. When
that trial was sufficient to show that they could be practised and
they were still not practised, then he went away, and thus it was
that he never completed in any State a residence of three years.
7. 'Confucius took office when he saw that the practice of his doctrines
was likely; he took office when his reception was proper; he took office
when he was supported by the State. In the case of his relation to
Chî Hwan, he took office, seeing that the practice of his doctrines
was likely. With the duke Ling of Wei he took office, because his reception
was proper. With the duke Hsiâo of Wei he took office, because he was
maintained by the State.'
How office may be taken on account of poverty, but only on certain
1. Mencius said, 'Office is not sought on account of poverty, yet there
are times when one seeks office on that account. Marriage is not entered
into for the sake of being attended to by the wife, yet there are times
when one marries on that account.
2. 'He who takes office on account of his poverty must decline an
honourable situation and occupy a low one; he must decline riches and
prefer to be poor.
3. 'What office will be in harmony with this declining an honourable
situation and occupying a low one, this declining riches and preferring to
be poor? Such an one as that of guarding the gates, or beating the
4. 'Confucius was once keeper of stores, and he then said, "My
calculations must be all right. That is all I have to care about." He was
once in charge of the public fields, and he then said, "The oxen and sheep
must be fat and strong, and superior. That is all I have to care
5. 'When one is in a low situation, to speak of high matters is a crime.
When a scholar stands in a prince's court, and his principles are not
carried into practice, it is a shame to him.'
How a scholar may not become a dependent by accepting pay without
office, and how the repeated presents of a prince to a scholar must be
1. Wan Chang said, 'What is the reason that a scholar does not accept a
stated support from a prince?' Mencius replied, 'He does not presume to do
so. When a prince loses his State, and then accepts a stated support from
another prince, this is in accordance with propriety. But for a scholar to
accept such support from any of the princes is not in accordance with
2. Wan Chang said, 'If the prince send him a present of grain, for instance,
does he accept it?' 'He accepts it,' answered Mencius. 'On what principle of
righteousness does he accept it?' 'Why-- the prince ought to assist the
people in their necessities.'
3. Chang pursued, 'Why is it that the scholar will thus accept the
prince's help, but will not accept his pay?' The answer was, 'He does not
presume to do so.' 'I venture to ask why he does not presume to do so.'
'Even the keepers of the gates, with their watchmen's sticks, have their
regular offices for which they can take their support from the prince. He
who without a regular office should receive the pay of the prince must be
4. Chang asked, 'If the prince sends a scholar a present, he accepts
it;-- I do not know whether this present may be constantly repeated.'
Mencius answered, 'There was the conduct of the duke Mû to Tsze-sze--
He made frequent inquiries after Tsze-sze's health, and sent him frequent
presents of cooked meat. Tsze-sze was displeased; and at length, having
motioned to the messenger to go outside the great door, he bowed his head
to the ground with his face to the north, did obeisance twice, and declined
the gift, saying, "From this time forth I shall know that the prince
supports me as a dog or a horse." And so from that time a servant was no
more sent with the presents. When a prince professes to be pleased with a
man of talents and virtue, and can neither promote him to office, nor
support him in the proper way, can he be said to be pleased with him?
5. Chang said, 'I venture to ask how the sovereign of a State, when he
wishes to support a superior man, must proceed, that he may be said to do
so in the proper way?' Mencius answered, 'At first, the present must be
offered with the prince's commission, and the scholar, making obeisance
twice with his head bowed to the ground, will receive it. But after this
the storekeeper will continue to send grain, and the master of the kitchen
to send meat, presenting it as if without the prince's express commission.
Tsze-sze considered that the meat from the prince's caldron, giving him the
annoyance of constantly doing obeisance, was not the way to support a
6. 'There was Yâo's conduct to Shun:-- He caused his nine sons to
serve him, and gave him his two daughters in marriage; he caused the
various officers, oxen and sheep, storehouses and granaries, all to be
prepared to support Shun amid the channelled fields, and then he raised him
to the most exalted situation. From this we have the expression-- "The
honouring of virtue and talents proper to a king or a duke."'
Why a scholar should decline going to see the princes, when called by
1. Wan Chang said, 'I venture to ask what principle of righteousness is
involved in a scholar's not going to see the princes?' Mencius replied, 'A
scholar residing in the city is called "a minister of the market-place and
well," and one residing in the country is called "a minister of the grass
and plants." In both cases he is a common man, and it is the rule of
propriety that common men, who have not presented the introductory present
and become ministers, should not presume to have interviews with the
2. Wan Chang said, 'If a common man is called to perform any service, he
goes and performs it;-- how is it that a scholar, when the prince, wishing
to see him, calls him to his presence, refuses to go?' Mencius replied, 'It
is right to go and perform the service; it would not be right to go and see
3. 'And,' added Mencius, 'on what account is it that the prince wishes
to see the scholar?' 'Because of his extensive information, or because of
his talents and virtue,' was the reply. 'If because of his extensive
information,' said Mencius, 'such a person is a teacher, and the sovereign
would not call him;-- how much less may any of the princes do so? If
because of his talents and virtue, then I have not heard of any one wishing
to see a person with those qualities, and calling him to his presence.
4. 'During the frequent interviews of the duke Mû with Tsze-sze,
he one day said to him, "Anciently, princes of a thousand chariots have yet
been on terms of friendship with scholars;-- what do you think of such an
intercourse?" Tsze-sze was displeased, and said, "The ancients have said,
'The scholar should be served:' how should they have merely said that he
should be made a friend of?" When Tsze-sze was thus displeased, did he not
say within himself,-- "With regard to our stations, you are sovereign, and
I am subject. How can I presume to be on terms of friendship with my
sovereign! With regard to our virtue, you ought to make me your master. How
can you be on terms of friendship with me?" Thus, when a ruler of a
thousand chariots sought to be on terms of friendship with a scholar, he
could not obtain his wish:-- how much less could he call him to his
5. 'The duke Ching of Ch'î, once, when he was hunting, called his
forester to him by a flag. The forester would not come, and the duke was
going to kill him. With reference to this incident, Confucius said, "The
determined officer never forgets that his end may be in a ditch or a
stream; the brave officer never forgets that he may lose his head." What
was it in the forester that Confucius thus approved? He approved his not
going to the duke, when summoned by the article which was not appropriate
6. Chang said, 'May I ask with what a forester should be summoned?'
Mencius replied, 'With a skin cap. A common man should be summoned with a
plain banner; a scholar who has taken office, with one having dragons
embroidered on it; and a Great officer, with one having feathers suspended
from the top of the staff.
7. 'When the forester was summoned with the article appropriate to the
summoning of a Great officer, he would have died rather than presume to go.
If a common man were summoned with the article appropriate to the summoning
of a scholar, how could he presume to go? How much more may we expect this
refusal to go, when a man of talents and virtue is summoned in a way which
is inappropriate to his character!
8. 'When a prince wishes to see a man of talents and virtue, and does not
take the proper course to get his wish, it is as if he wished him to enter
his palace, and shut the door against him. Now, righteousness is the way,
and propriety is the door, but it is only the superior man who can follow
this way, and go out and in by this door. It is said in the Book of
"The way to Châu is level like a whetstone,
And straight as an arrow.
The officers tread it,
And the lower people see it."'
9. Wan Chang said, 'When Confucius received the prince's message calling
him, he went without waiting for his carriage. Doing so, did Confucius do
wrong?' Mencius replied, 'Confucius was in office, and had to observe its
appropriate duties. And moreover, he was summoned on the business of his
The realization of the greatest advantages of friendship, and that it is
dependent on one's self.
1. Mencius said to Wan Chang, 'The scholar whose virtue is most
distinguished in a village shall make friends of all the virtuous scholars
in the village. The scholar whose virtue is most distinguished throughout a
State shall make friends of all the virtuous scholars of that State. The
scholar whose virtue is most distinguished throughout the kingdom shall
make friends of all the virtuous scholars of the kingdom.
2. 'When a scholar feels that his friendship with all the virtuous
scholars of the kingdom is not sufficient to satisfy him, he proceeds to
ascend to consider the men of antiquity. He repeats their poems, and reads
their books, and as he does not know what they were as men, to ascertain
this, he considers their history. This is to ascend and make friends of the
men of antiquity.'
The duties of the different classes oh high ministers.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked about the office of high
ministers. Mencius said, 'Which high ministers is your Majesty asking
about?' 'Are there differences among them?' inquired the king. 'There are'
was the reply. 'There are the high ministers who are noble and relatives of
the prince, and there are those who are of a different surname.' The king
said, 'I beg to ask about the high ministers who are noble and relatives of
the prince.' Mencius answered, 'If the prince have great faults, they ought
to remonstrate with him, and if he do not listen to them after they have
done so again and again, they ought to dethrone him.'
2. The king on this looked moved, and changed countenance.
3. Mencius said, 'Let not your Majesty be offended. You asked me, and I
dare not answer but according to truth.'
4. The king's countenance became composed, and he then begged to ask about
high ministers who were of a different surname from the prince. Mencius
said, 'When the prince has faults, they ought to remonstrate with him; and
if he do not listen to them after they have done this again and again, they
ought to leave the State.'
Book VI, Part I:
That benevolence and righteousness are no unnatural products of human
1. The philosopher Kâo said, 'Man's nature is like the
ch'î-willow , and righteousness is like a cup or a bowl. The fashioning
benevolence and righteousness out of man's nature is like the making cups
and bowls from the ch'î-willow.'
2. Mencius replied, 'Can you, leaving untouched the nature of the willow,
make with it cups and bowls? You must do violence and injury to the willow,
before you can make cups and bowls with it. If you must do violence and
injury to the willow in order to make cups and bowls with it, on your
principles you must in the same way do violence and injury to humanity in
order to fashion from it benevolence and righteousness! Your words, alas!
would certainly lead all men on to reckon benevolence and righteousness to
Man's nature is not indifferent to good and evil. Its proper tendency is
1. The philosopher Kâo said, 'Man's nature is like water whirling
round in a corner. Open a passage for it to the east, and it will flow to
the east; open a passage for it to the west, and it will flow to the west.
Man's nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as the water is
indifferent to the east and west.'
2. Mencius replied, 'Water indeed will flow indifferently to the east or
west, but will it flow indifferently up or down? The tendency of man's
nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards. There are
none but have this tendency to good, just as all water flows
3. 'Now by striking water and causing it to leap up, you may make it go
over your forehead, and, by damming and leading it you may force it up a
hill;-- but are such movements according to the nature of water? It is the
force applied which causes them. When men are made to do what is not good,
their nature is dealt with in this way.'
The nature is not to be confounded with the phenomena of life.
1. The philosopher Kâo said, 'Life is what we call nature!'
2. Mencius asked him, 'Do you say that by nature you mean life, just as
you say that white is white?' 'Yes, I do,' was the reply. Mencius added,
'Is the whiteness of a white feather like that of white snow, and the
whiteness of white snow like that of white jade?' Kâo again said
3. 'Very well,' pursued Mencius. 'Is the nature of a dog like the nature
of an ox, and the nature of an ox like the nature of a man?'
That the benevolent affections and the discriminations of what is right
are equally internal.
1. The philosopher Kâo said, 'To enjoy food and delight in colours
is nature. Benevolence is internal and not external; righteousness is
external and not internal.'
2. Mencius asked him, 'What is the ground of your saying that
benevolence is internal and righteousness external?' He replied, 'There is
a man older than I, and I give honour to his age. It is not that there is
first in me a principle of such reverence to age. It is just as when there
is a white man, and I consider him white; according as he is so externally
to me. On this account, I pronounce of righteousness that it is
3. Mencius said, 'There is no difference between our pronouncing a white
horse to be white and our pronouncing a white man to be white. But is there
no difference between the regard with which we acknowledge the age of an
old horse and that with which we acknowledge the age of an old man? And
what is it which is called righteousness?-- the fact of a man's being old?
or the fact of our giving honour to his age?'
4. Kâo said, 'There is my younger brother;-- I love him. But the
younger brother of a man of Ch'in I do not love: that is, the feeling is
determined by myself, and therefore I say that benevolence is internal. On
the other hand, I give honour to an old man of Ch'û, and I also give
honour to an old man of my own people: that is, the feeling is determined
by the age, and therefore I say that righteousness is external.'
5. Mencius answered him, 'Our enjoyment of meat roasted by a man of
Ch'in does not differ from our enjoyment of meat roasted by ourselves.
Thus, what you insist on takes place also in the case of such things, and
will you say likewise that our enjoyment of a roast is external?'
The same subject;-- the discriminations of what is right are from
1. The disciple Mang Chî asked Kung-tû, saying, 'On what
ground is it said that righteousness is internal?'
2. Kung-tû replied, 'We therein act out our feeling of respect,
and therefore it is said to be internal.'
3. The other objected, 'Suppose the case of a villager older than your
elder brother by one year, to which of them would you show the greater
respect?' 'To my brother,' was the reply. 'But for which of them would you
first pour out wine at a feast?' 'For the villager.' Mang Chî argued,
'Now your feeling of reverence rests on the one, and now the honour due to
age is rendered to the other;-- this is certainly determined by what is
without, and does not proceed from within.'
4. Kung-tû was unable to reply, and told the conversation to
Mencius. Mencius said, 'You should ask him, "Which do you respect most,--
your uncle, or your younger brother?" He will answer, "My uncle." Ask him
again, "If your younger brother be personating a dead ancestor, to which do
you show the greater respect,-- to him or to your uncle?" He will say, "To
my younger brother." You can go on, "But where is the respect due, as you
said, to your uncle?" He will reply to this, "I show the respect to my
younger brother, because of the position which he occupies," and you can
likewise say, "So my respect to the villager is because of the position
which he occupies. Ordinarily, my respect is rendered to my elder brother;
for a brief season, on occasion, it is rendered to the villager."'
5. Mang Chî heard this and observed, 'When respect is due to my
uncle, I respect him, and when respect is due to my younger brother, I
respect him;-- the thing is certainly determined by what is without, and
does not proceed from within.' Kung-tû replied, 'In winter we drink
things hot, in summer we drink things cold; and so, on your principle,
eating and drinking also depend on what is external!'
Explanation of Mencius's own doctrine that man's nature is good.
1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'The philosopher Kâo
says, "Man's nature is neither good nor bad."
2. 'Some say, "Man's nature may be made to practise good, and it may be
made to practise evil, and accordingly, under Wan and Wû, the people
loved what was good, while under Yû and Lî, they loved what was
3. 'Some say, "The nature of some is good, and the nature of others is
bad. Hence it was that under such a sovereign as Yâo there yet
appeared Hsiang; that with such a father as Kû-sâu there yet
appeared Shun; and that with Châu for their sovereign, and the son of
their elder brother besides, there were found Ch'î, the viscount of
Wei, and the prince Pî-Kan.
4. 'And now you say, "The nature is good." Then are all those
5. Mencius said, 'From the feelings proper to it, it is constituted for
the practice of what is good. This is what I mean in saying that the nature
6. 'If men do what is not good, the blame cannot be imputed to their
7. 'The feeling of commiseration belongs to all men; so does that of
shame and dislike; and that of reverence and respect; and that of approving
and disapproving. The feeling of commiseration implies the principle of
benevolence; that of shame and dislike, the principle of righteousness;
that of reverence and respect, the principle of propriety; and that of
approving and disapproving, the principle of knowledge. Benevolence,
righteousness, propriety, and knowledge are not infused into us from
without. We are certainly furnished with them. And a different view is
simply owing to want of reflection. Hence it is said, "Seek and you will
find them. Neglect and you will lose them." Men differ from one another in
regard to them;-- some as much again as others, some five times as much,
and some to an incalculable amount:-- it is because they cannot carry out
fully their natural powers.
8. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"Heaven in producing mankind,
Gave them their various faculties and relations with their specific
These are the invariable rules of nature for all to hold,
And all love this admirable virtue."
Confucius said, "The maker of this ode knew indeed the
principle of our nature!" We may thus see that every faculty and relation
must have its law, and since there are invariable rules for all to hold,
they consequently love this admirable virtue.'
All men are the same in mind;-- sages and others. It follows that the
nature of all men, like that of the sages, is good.
1. Mencius said, 'In good years the children of the people are most of
them good, while in bad years the most of them abandon themselves to evil.
It is not owing to any difference of their natural powers conferred by
Heaven that they are thus different. The abandonment is owing to the
circumstances through which they allow their minds to be ensnared and
drowned in evil.
2. 'There now is barley.-- Let it be sown and covered up; the ground
being the same, and the time of sowing likewise the same, it grows rapidly
up, and, when the full time is come, it is all found to be ripe. Although
there may be inequalities of produce, that is owing to the difference of
the soil, as rich or poor, to the unequal nourishment afforded by the rains
and dews, and to the different ways in which man has performed his business
in reference to it.
3. 'Thus all things which are the same in kind are like to one
another;-- why should we doubt in regard to man, as if he were a solitary
exception to this? The sage and we are the same in kind.
4. 'In accordance with this the scholar Lung said, "If a man make hempen
sandals without knowing the size of people's feet, yet I know that he will
not make them like baskets." Sandals are all like one another, because all
men's feet are like one another.
5. 'So with the mouth and flavours;-- all mouths have the same relishes.
Yî-yâ only apprehended before me what my mouth relishes.
Suppose that his mouth in its relish for flavours differed from that of
other men, as is the case with dogs or horses which are not the same in
kind with us, why should all men be found following Yî-yâ in
their relishes? In the matter of tastes all the people model themselves
after Yî-yâ; that is, the mouths of all men are like one
6. 'And so also it is with the ear. In the matter of sounds, the whole
people model themselves after the music-master K'wang; that is, the ears of
all men are like one another.
7. 'And so also it is with the eye. In the case of Tsze-tû, there
is no man but would recognise that he was beautiful. Any one who would not
recognise the beauty of Tsze-tû must have no eyes.
8. 'Therefore I say,-- Men's mouths agree in having the same relishes;
their ears agree in enjoying the same sounds; their eyes agree in
recognising the same beauty:-- shall their minds alone be without that
which the similarly approve? What is it then of which they similarly
approve? It is, I say, the principles of our nature, and the determinations
of righteousness. The sages only apprehended before me that of which my
mind approves along with other men. Therefore the principles of our nature
and the determinations of righteousness are agreeable to my mind, just as
the flesh of grass and grain-fed animals is agreeable to my mouth.'
How it is that the nature properly good comes to appear as if it were
not so;-- from not receiving its proper nourishment.
1. Mencius said, 'The trees of the Niû mountain were once
beautiful. Being situated, however, in the borders of a large State, they
were hewn down with axes and bills;-- and could they retain their beauty?
Still through the activity of the vegetative life day and night, and the
nourishing influence of the rain and dew, they were not without buds and
sprouts springing forth, but then came the cattle and goats and browsed
upon them. To these things is owing the bare and stripped appearance of the
mountain, and when people now see it, they think it was never finely
wooded. But is this the nature of the mountain?
2. 'And so also of what properly belongs to man;-- shall it be said that
the mind of any man was without benevolence and righteousness? The way in
which a man loses his proper goodness of mind is like the way in which the
trees are denuded by axes and bills. Hewn down day after day, can it-- the
mind-- retain its beauty? But there is a development of its life day and
night, and in the calm air of the morning, just between night and day, the
mind feels in a degree those desires and aversions which are proper to
humanity, but the feeling is not strong, and it is fettered and destroyed
by what takes place during the day. This fettering taking place again and
again, the restorative influence of the night is not sufficient to preserve
the proper goodness of the mind; and when this proves insufficient for that
purpose, the nature becomes not much different from that of the irrational
animals, and when people now see it, they think that it never had those
powers which I assert. But does this condition represent the feelings
proper to humanity?
3. 'Therefore, if it receive its proper nourishment, there is nothing
which will not grow. If it lose its proper nourishment, there is nothing
which will not decay away.
4. 'Confucius said, "Hold it fast, and it remains with you. Let it go,
and you lose it. Its outgoing and incoming cannot be defined as to time or
place." It is the mind of which this is said!'
Illustrates the last chapter.-- How the king of Ch'î's want of
wisdom was owing to neglect and bad associations.
1. Mencius said, 'It is not to be wondered at that the king is not
2. 'Suppose the case of the most easily growing thing in the world;-- if
you let it have one day's genial heat, and then expose it for ten days to
cold, it will not be able to grow. It is but seldom that I have an audience
of the king, and when I retire, there come all those who act upon him like
the cold. Though I succeed in bringing out some buds of goodness, of what
avail is it?
3. 'Now chess-playing is but a small art, but without his whole mind
being given, and his will bent, to it, a man cannot succeed at it. Chess
Ch'iû is the best chess-player in all the kingdom. Suppose that he is
teaching two men to play.-- The one gives to the subject his whole mind and
bends to it all his will, doing nothing but listening to Chess Ch'iû.
The other, although he seems to be listening to him, has his whole mind
running on a swan which he thinks is approaching, and wishes to bend his
bow, adjust the string to the arrow, and shoot it. Although he is learning
along with the other, he does not come up to him. Why?-- because his
intelligence is not equal? Not so.'
That it is proper to man's nature to love righteousness more than life,
and how it is that many act as if it were not so.
1. Mencius said, 'I like fish, and I also like bear's paws. If I cannot
have the two together, I will let the fish go, and take the bear's paws.
So, I like life, and I also like righteousness. If I cannot keep the two
together, I will let life go, and choose righteousness.
2. 'I like life indeed, but there is that which I like more than life,
and therefore, I will not seek to possess it by any improper ways. I
dislike death indeed, but there is that which I dislike more than death,
and therefore there are occasions when I will not avoid danger.
3. 'If among the things which man likes there were nothing which he
liked more than life, why should he not use every means by which he could
preserve it? If among the things which man dislikes there were nothing
which he disliked more than death, why should he not do everything by which
he could avoid danger?
4. 'There are cases when men by a certain course might preserve life,
and they do not employ it; when by certain things they might avoid danger,
and they will not do them.
5. 'Therefore, men have that which they like more than life, and that
which they dislike more than death. They are not men of distinguished
talents and virtue only who have this mental nature. All men have it; what
belongs to such men is simply that they do not lose it.
6. 'Here are a small basket of rice and a platter of soup, and the case
is one in which the getting them will preserve life, and the want of them
will be death;-- if they are offered with an insulting voice, even a
tramper will not receive them, or if you first tread upon them, even a
beggar will not stoop to take them.
7. 'And yet a man will accept of ten thousand chung, without any
consideration of propriety or righteousness. What can the ten thousand
chung add to him? When he takes them, is it not that he may obtain
beautiful mansions, that he may secure the services of wives and
concubines, or that the poor and needy of his acquaintance may be helped
8. 'In the former case the offered bounty was not received, though it
would have saved from death, and now the emolument is taken for the sake of
beautiful mansions. The bounty that would have preserved from death was not
received, and the emolument is taken to get the service of wives and
concubines. The bounty that would have saved from death was not received,
and the emolument is taken that one's poor and needy acquaintance may be
helped by him. Was it then not possible likewise to decline this? This is a
case of what is called-- "Losing the proper nature of one's mind."'
How men having lost the proper qualities of their nature should seek to
1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence is man's mind, and righteousness is man's
2. 'How lamentable is it to neglect the path and not pursue it, to lose
this mind and not know to seek it again!
3. 'When men's fowls and dogs are lost, they know to seek for them
again, but they lose their mind, and do not know to seek for it.
4. 'The great end of learning is nothing else but to seek for the lost
How men are sensible of bodily, and not of mental or moral, defects.
1. Mencius said, 'Here is a man whose fourth finger is bent and cannot
be stretched out straight. It is not painful, nor does it incommode his
business, and yet if there be any one who can make it straight, he will not
think the way from Ch'in to Ch'û far to go to him; because his finger
is not like the finger of other people.
2. 'When a man's finger is not like those of other people, he knows to
feel dissatisfied, but if his mind be not like that of other people, he
does not know to feel dissatisfaction. This is called-- "Ignorance of the
relative importance of things."'
Men's extreme want of thought in regard to the cultivation of
Mencius said, 'Anybody who wishes to cultivate the t'ung or the tsze,
which may be grasped with both hands, perhaps with one, knows by what means
to nourish them. In the case of their own persons, men do not know by what
means to nourish them. Is it to be supposed that their regard of their own
persons is inferior to their regard for a t'ung or tsze? Their want of
reflection is extreme.'
The attention given by men to the nourishment of the different parts of
their nature must be regulated by the relative importance of those parts.
1. Mencius said, 'There is no part of himself which a man does not love,
and as he loves all, so he must nourish all. There is not an inch of skin
which he does not love, and so there is not an inch of skin which he will
not nourish. For examining whether his way of nourishing be good or not,
what other rule is there but this, that he determine by reflecting on
himself where it should be applied?
2. 'Some parts of the body are noble, and some ignoble; some great, and
some small. The great must not be injured for the small, nor the noble for
the ignoble. He who nourishes the little belonging to him is a little man,
and he who nourishes the great is a great man.
3. 'Here is a plantation-keeper, who neglects his wû and
chiâ, and cultivates his sour jujube-trees;-- he is a poor
4. 'He who nourishes one of his fingers, neglecting his shoulders or his
back, without knowing that he is doing so, is a man who resembles a hurried
5. 'A man who only eats and drinks is counted mean by others;-- because
he nourishes what is little to the neglect of what is great.
6. 'If a man, fond of his eating and drinking, were not to neglect what
is of more importance, how should his mouth and belly be considered as no
more than an inch of skin?'
How some are great men, lords of reason, and some are little men, slaves
1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'All are equally men, but some are
great men, and some are little men;-- how is this?' Mencius replied, 'Those
who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who
follow that part which is little are little men.'
2. Kung-tû pursued, 'All are equally men, but some follow that
part of themselves which is great, and some follow that part which is
little;-- how is this?' Mencius answered, 'The senses of hearing and seeing
do not think, and are obscured by external things. When one thing comes
into contact with another, as a matter of course it leads it away. To the
mind belongs the office of thinking. By thinking, it gets the right view of
things; by neglecting to think, it fails to do this. These-- the senses and
the mind-- are what Heaven has given to us. Let a man first stand fast in
the supremacy of the nobler part of his constitution, and the inferior part
will not be able to take it from him. It is simply this which makes the
There is a nobility that is of Heaven, and a nobility that is of man. The
neglect of the former leads to the loss of the latter.
1. Mencius said, 'There is a nobility of Heaven, and there is a nobility
of man. Benevolence, righteousness, self-consecration, and fidelity, with
unwearied joy in these virtues;-- these constitute the nobility of Heaven.
To be a kung, a ch'ing, or a tâ-fû;-- this constitutes the
nobility of man.
2. 'The men of antiquity cultivated their nobility of Heaven, and the
nobility of man came to them in its train.
3. 'The men of the present day cultivate their nobility of Heaven in
order to seek for the nobility of man, and when they have obtained that,
they throw away the other:-- their delusion is extreme. The issue is simply
this, that they must lose that nobility of man as well.'
The true honour which men should desire.
1. Mencius said, 'To desire to be honoured is the common mind
of men. And all men have in themselves that which is truly honourable. Only
they do not think of it.
2. 'The honour which men confer is not good honour. Those whom
Châo the Great ennobles he can make mean again.
3. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"He has filled us with his wine,
He has satiated us with his goodness."
"Satiated us with his goodness," that is, satiated us
with benevolence and righteousness, and he who is so satiated,
consequently, does not wish for the fat meat and fine millet of men. A good
reputation and far-reaching praise fall to him, and he does not desire the
elegant embroidered garments of men.'
It is necessary to practise benevolence with all one's might. This only
will preserve it.
1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence subdues its opposite just as water subdues
fire. Those, however, who now-a-days practise benevolence do it as if with
one cup of water they could save a whole waggon-load of fuel which was on
fire, and when the flames were not extinguished, were to say that water
cannot subdue fire. This conduct, moreover, greatly encourages those who
are not benevolent.
2. 'The final issue will simply be this-- the loss of that small amount
Benevolence must be matured.
Mencius said, 'Of all seeds the best are the five kinds of grain, yet if
they be not ripe, they are not equal to the t'î or the pâi. So,
the value of benevolence depends entirely on its being brought to
Learning must not be by halves.
1. Mencius said, 'Î, in teaching men to shoot, made it a rule to
draw the bow to the full, and his pupils also did the same.
2. 'A master-workman, in teaching others, uses the compass and square,
and his pupils do the same.'
Book VI, Part II:
The importance of observing the rules of propriety, and, when they may
be disregarded, the exception will be found to prove the rule. Extreme
cases may not be pressed to invalidate the principle.
1. A man of Zan asked the disciple Wû-lû, saying, 'Is an
observance of the rules of propriety in regard to eating, or eating merely,
the more important?' The answer was, 'The observance of the rules of
propriety is the more important.'
2. 'Is the gratifying the appetite of sex, or the doing so only
according to the rules of propriety, the more important?' The answer again
was, 'The observance of the rules of propriety in the matter is the more
3. The man pursued, 'If the result of eating only according to the rules
of propriety will be death by starvation, while by disregarding those rules
we may get food, must they still be observed in such a case? If according
to the rule that he shall go in person to meet his wife a man cannot get
married, while by disregarding that rule he may get married, must he still
observe the rule in such a case?'
4. Wû-lû was unable to reply to these questions, and the
next day he went to Tsâu, and told them to Mencius. Mencius said,
'What difficulty is there in answering these inquiries?'
5. 'If you do not adjust them at their lower extremities, but only put
their tops on a level, a piece of wood an inch square may be made to be
higher than the pointed peak of a high building.
6. 'Gold is heavier than feathers;-- but does that saying have
reference, on the one hand, to a single clasp of gold, and, on the other,
to a waggon-load of feathers?
7. 'If you take a case where the eating is of the utmost importance and
the observing the rules of propriety is of little importance, and compare
the things together, why stop with saying merely that the eating is more
important? So, taking the case where the gratifying the appetite of sex is
of the utmost importance and the observing the rules of propriety is of
little importance, why stop with merely saying that the gratifying the
appetite is the more important?
8. 'Go and answer him thus, "If, by twisting your elder brother's arm,
and snatching from him what he is eating, you can get food for yourself,
while, if you do not do so, you will not get anything to eat, will you so
twist his arm ? If by getting over your neighbour's wall, and dragging away
his virgin daughter, you can get a wife, while if you do not do so, you
will not be able to get a wife, will you so drag her away?"'
All may become Yâos and Shuns, and to become so, they have only
sincerely, and in themselves, to cultivate Yâo and Shun's principles
1. Chiâo of Tsâo asked Mencius, saying, 'It is said,
"All men may be Yâos and Shuns;"-- is it so?' Mencius replied, It
2. Chiâo went on, 'I have heard that king Wan was ten cubits high,
and T'ang nine. Now I am nine cubits four inches in height. But I can do
nothing but eat my millet. What am I to do to realize that saying?'
3. Mencius answered him, 'What has this-- the question of size--- to do
with the matter? It all lies simply in acting as such. Here is a man, whose
strength was not equal to lift a duckling:-- he was then a man of no
strength. But to-day he says, "I can lift 3,000 catties' weight," and he is
a man of strength. And so, he who can lift the weight which Wû Hwo
lifted is just another Wû Hwo. Why should a man make a want of
ability the subject of his grief? It is only that he will not do the
4. 'To walk slowly, keeping behind his elders, is to perform the part of
a younger. To walk quickly and precede his elders, is to violate the duty
of a younger brother. Now, is it what a man cannot do-- to walk slowly? It
is what he does not do. The course of Yâo and Shun was simply that of
filial piety and fraternal duty.
5. 'Wear the clothes of Yâo, repeat the words of Yâo, and do
the actions of Yâo, and you will just be a Yâo. And, if you
wear the clothes of Chieh, repeat the words of Chieh, and do the actions of
Chieh, you will just be a Chieh.'
6. Chiâo said, 'I shall be having an interview with the prince of
Tsâu, and can ask him to let me have a house to lodge in. I wish to
remain here, and receive instruction at your gate.'
7. Mencius replied, 'The way of truth is like a great road. It is not
difficult to know it. The evil is only that men will not seek it. Do you go
home and search for it, and you will have abundance of teachers.'
Explanation of the odes Hsiâo P'ân and K'âi Fang.
Dissatisfaction with a parent is not necessarily unfilial.
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked about an opinion of the scholar Kâo,
saying, 'Kâo observed, "The Hsiâo P'ân is the ode of a
little man."' Mencius asked, 'Why did he say so?' 'Because of the murmuring
which it expresses,' was the reply.
2. Mencius answered, 'How stupid was that old Kâo in dealing with
the ode! There is a man here, and a native of Yüeh bends his bow to
shoot him. I will advise him not to do so, but speaking calmly and
smilingly;-- for no other reason but that he is not related to me. But if
my own brother be bending his bow to shoot the man, then I will advise him
not to do so, weeping and crying the while;-- for no other reason than that
he is related to me. The dissatisfaction expressed in the Hsiâo
P'ân is the working of relative affection, and that affection shows
benevolence. Stupid indeed was old Kâo's criticism on the ode.'
3. Ch'âu then said, 'How is it that there is no dissatisfaction
expressed in the K'âi Fang?'
4. Mencius replied, 'The parent's fault referred to in the K'âi
Fang is small; that referred to in the Hsiâo P'ân is great.
Where the parent's fault was great, not to have murmured on account of it
would have increased the want of natural affection. Where the parent's
fault was small, to have murmured on account of it would have been to act
like water which frets and foams about a stone that interrupts its course.
To increase the want of natural affection would have been unfilial, and to
fret and foam in such a manner would also have been unfilial.
5 'Confucius said, "Shun was indeed perfectly filial! And yet, when he
was fifty, he was full of longing desire about his parents."'
Mencius's warnings to Sung K'ang on the error and danger of counselling
the princes from the ground of profit, the proper ground being that of
benevolence and righteousness.
1. Sung K'ang being about to go to Ch'û, Mencius met him in
2. 'Master, where are you going?' asked Mencius.
3. K'ang replied, 'I have heard that Ch'in and Ch'û are fighting
together, and I am going to see the king of Ch'û and persuade him to
cease hostilities. If he shall not be pleased with my advice, I shall go to
see the king of Ch'in, and persuade him in the same way. Of the two kings I
shall surely find that I can succeed with one of them.'
4. Mencius said, 'I will not venture to ask about the particulars, but I
should like to hear the scope of your plan. What course will you take to
try to persuade them?' K'ang answered, 'I will tell them how unprofitable
their course is to them.' 'Master,' said Mencius, 'your aim is great, but
your argument is not good.
5. 'If you, starting from the point of profit, offer your persuasive
counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings are
pleased with the consideration of profit so as to stop the movements of
their armies, then all belonging to those armies will rejoice in the
cessation of war, and find their pleasure in the pursuit of profit.
Ministers will serve their sovereign for the profit of which they cherish
the thought; sons will serve their fathers, and younger brothers will serve
their elder brothers, from the same consideration:-- and the issue will be,
that, abandoning benevolence and righteousness, sovereign and minister,
father and son, younger brother and elder, will carry on all their
intercourse with this thought of profit cherished in their breasts. But
never has there been such a state of society, without ruin being the result
6. 'If you, starting from the ground of benevolence and righteousness,
offer your counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those
kings are pleased with the consideration of benevolence and righteousness
so as to stop the operations of their armies, then all belonging to those
armies will rejoice in the stopping from war, and find their pleasure in
benevolence and righteousness. Ministers will serve their sovereign,
cherishing the principles of benevolence and righteousness; sons will serve
their fathers, and younger brothers will serve their elder brothers, in the
same way:-- and so, sovereign and minister, father and son, elder brother
and younger, abandoning the thought of profit, will cherish the principles
of benevolence and righteousness, and carry on all their intercourse upon
them. But never has there been such a state of society, without the State
where it prevailed rising to the royal sway. Why must you use that word
How Mencius regulated himself in differently acknowledging favours which
1. When Mencius was residing in Tsâu, the younger brother of the
chief of Zan, who was guardian of Zan at the time, paid his respects to him
by a present of silks, which Mencius received, not going to acknowledge it.
When he was sojourning in P'ing-lû, Ch'û, who was prime
minister of the State, sent him a similar present, which he received in the
2. Subsequently, going from Tsâu to Zan, he visited the guardian;
but when he went from Ping-lû to the capital of Ch'î, he did
not visit the minister Ch'û. The disciple Wû-lû was glad,
and said, 'I have got an opportunity to obtain some instruction.'
3. He asked accordingly, 'Master, when you went to Zan, you visited the
chief's brother; and when you went to Ch'î, you did not visit
Ch'û. Was it not because he is only the minister?'
4. Mencius replied, 'No. It is said in the Book of History, "In
presenting an offering to a superior, most depends on the demonstrations of
respect. If those demonstrations are not equal to the things offeredred, we
say there is no offering, that is, there is no act of the will presenting
5. 'This is because the things so offered do not constitute an offering
to a superior.'
6. Wû-lû was pleased, and when some one asked him what
Mencius meant, he said, 'The younger of Zan could not go to Tsâu, but
the minister Ch'û might have gone to P'ing-lû.'
How Mencius replied to the insinuations of Shun-yü K'wan,
condemning him for leaving office without accomplishing anything.
1. Shun-yü K'wan said, 'He who makes fame and meritorious services
his first objects, acts with a regard to others. He who makes them only
secondary objects, acts with a regard to himself. You, master, were ranked
among the three chief ministers of the State, but before your fame and
services had reached either to the prince or the people, you have left your
place. Is this indeed the way of the benevolent?'
2. Mencius replied, 'There was Po'î;-- he abode in an inferior
situation, and would not, with his virtue, serve a degenerate prince. There
was Î Yin;-- he five times went to T'ang, and five times went to
Chieh. There was Hûi of Liû-hsiâ;-- he did not disdain to
serve a vile prince, nor did he decline a small office. The courses pursued
by those three worthies were different, but their aim was one. And what was
their one aim? We must answer-- "To be perfectly virtuous." And so it is
simply after this that superior men strive. Why must they all pursue the
3. K'wan pursued, 'In the time of the duke Mû of Lû, the
government was in the hands of Kung-î, while Tsze-liû and
Tsze-sze were ministers. And yet, the dismemberment of Lû then
increased exceedingly. Such was the case, a specimen how your men of virtue
are of no advantage to a kingdom!'
4. Mencius said, 'The prince of Yü did not use Pâi-lî
Hsi, and thereby lost his State. The duke Mû of Chin used him, and
became chief of all the princes. Ruin is the consequence of not employing
men of virtue and talents;-- how can it rest with dismemberment
5. K'wan urged again, 'Formerly, when Wang P'âo dwelt on the
Ch'î, the people on the west of the Yellow River all became skilful
at singing in his abrupt manner. When Mien Ch'ü lived in
Kâo-t'ang, the people in the parts of Ch'î on the west became
skilful at singing in his prolonged manner. The wives of Hwa Châu and
Ch'î Liang bewailed their husbands so skilfully, that they changed
the manners of the State. When there is the gift within, it manifests
itself without. I have never seen the man who could do the deeds of a
worthy, and did not realize the work of one. Therefore there are now no men
of talents and virtue. If there were, I should know them.'
6. Mencius answered, 'When Confucius was chief minister of Justice in
Lû, the prince came not to follow his counsels. Soon after there was
the solstitial sacrifice, and when a part of the flesh presented in
sacrifice was not sent to him, he went away even without taking off his cap
of ceremony. Those who did not know him supposed it was on account of the
flesh. Those who knew him supposed that it was on account of the neglect of
the usual ceremony. The fact was, that Confucius wanted to go away on
occasion of some small offence, not wishing to do so without some apparent
cause. All men cannot be expected to understand the conduct of a superior
The progress and manner of degeneracy from the three kings to the five
chiefs of the princes, and from the five chiefs to the princes and officers
of Mencius's time.
1. Mencius said, 'The five chiefs of the princes were sinners against
the three kings. The princes of the present day are sinners against the
five chiefs. The Great officers of the present day are sinners against the
2. 'The sovereign visited the princes, which was called "A tour of
Inspection." The princes attended at the court of the sovereign, which was
called "Giving a report of office." It was a custom in the spring to
examine the ploughing, and supply any deficiency of seed; and in autumn to
examine the reaping, and assist where there was a deficiency of the crop.
When the sovereign entered the boundaries of a State, if the new ground was
being reclaimed, and the old fields well cultivated; if the old were
nourished and the worthy honoured; and if men of distinguished talents were
placed in office: then the prince was rewarded,-- rewarded with an addition
to his territory. On the other hand, if, on entering a State, the ground
was found left wild or overrun with weeds; if the old were neglected and
the worthy unhonoured; and if the offices were filled with hard
taxgatherers: then the prince was reprimanded. If a prince once omitted his
attendance at court, he was punished by degradation of rank; if he did so a
second time, be was deprived of a portion of his territory; if he did so a
third time, the royal forces were set in motion, and he was removed from
his government. Thus the sovereign commanded the punishment, but did not
himself inflict it, while the princes inflicted the punishment, but did not
command it. The five chiefs, however, dragged the princes to punish other
princes, and hence I say that they were sinners against the three
3. 'Of the five chiefs the most powerful was the duke Hwan. At the
assembly of the princes in K'wei-ch'iû, he bound the victim and
placed the writing upon it, but did not slay it to smear their mouths with
the blood. The first injunction in their agreement was,-- "Slay the
unfilial; change not the son who has been appointed heir; exalt not a
concubine to be the wife." The second was,-- "Honour the worthy, and
maintain the talented, to give distinction to the virtuous." The third
was,-- "Respect the old, and be kind to the young. Be not forgetful of
strangers and travellers." The fourth was, "Let not offices be hereditary,
nor let officers be pluralists. In the selection of officers let the object
be to get the proper men. Let not a ruler take it on himself to put to
death a Great officer." The fifth was,-- "Follow no crooked policy in
making embankments. Impose no restrictions on the sale of grain. Let there
be no promotions without first announcing them to the sovereign." It was
then said, "All we who have united in this agreement shall hereafter
maintain amicable relations." The princes of the present day all violate
these five prohibitions, and therefore I say that the princes of the
present day are sinners against the five chiefs.
4. 'The crime of him who connives at, and aids, the wickedness of his
prince is small, but the crime of him who anticipates and excites that
wickedness is great. The officers of the present day all go to meet their
sovereigns' wickedness, and therefore I say that the Great officers of the
present day are sinners against the princes.'
Mencius's opposition to the warlike ambition of the prince of Lû
and his minister Shan Kû-Lî.
1. The prince of Lû wanted to make the minister Shan commander of
2. Mencius said, 'To employ an uninstructed people in war may be said to
be destroying the people. A destroyer of the people would not have been
tolerated in the times of Yâo and Shun.
3. 'Though by a single battle you should subdue Ch'î, and get
possession of Nan-yang, the thing ought not to be done.'
4. Shan changed countenance, and said in displeasure, 'This is what I,
Kû-Lî, do not understand.'
5. Mencius said, 'I will lay the case plainly before you. The territory
appropriated to the sovereign is 1,000 lî square. Without a thousand
lî, he would not have sufficient for his entertainment of the
princes. The territory appropriated to a Hâu is 100 lî square.
Without 100 lî, he would not have sufficient wherewith to observe the
statutes kept in his ancestral temple.
6. 'When Châu-kung was invested with the principalily of Lû,
it was a hundred lî square. The territory was indeed enough, but it
was not more than 100 lî. When T'âi-kung was invested with the
principality of Ch'î, it was 100 lî square. The territory was
indeed enough, but it was not more than 100 lî.
7. 'Now Lû is five times 100 lî square. If a true royal
ruler were to arise, whether do you think that Lû would be diminished
or increased by him?
8. 'If it were merely taking the place from the one State to give it to
the other, a benevolent man would not do it;-- how much less will he do so,
when the end is to be sought by the slaughter of men!
9. 'The way in which a superior man serves his prince contemplates
simply the leading him in the right path, and directing his mind to
How the ministers of Mencius's time pandered to their sovereign's
thirst for wealth.
1. Mencius said, 'Those who now-a-days serve their sovereigns say, "We
can for our sovereign enlarge the limits of the cultivated ground, and fill
his treasuries and arsenals." Such persons are now-a-days called "Good
ministers," but anciently they were called "Robbers of the people." If a
sovereign follows not the right way, nor has his mind bent on benevolence,
to seek to enrich him is to enrich a Chieh.
2. 'Or they will say, "We can for our sovereign form alliances with
other States, so that our battles must be successful." Such persons are
now-a-days called "Good ministers," but anciently they were called "Robbers
of the people." If a sovereign follows not the right way, nor has his mind
directed to benevolence, to seek to enrich him is to enrich a Chieh.
3. 'Although a prince, pursuing the path of the present day, and not
changing its practices, were to have the throne given to him, he could not
retain it for a single morning.'
An ordained State can only subsist with a proper system of taxation, and
that originating with Yâo and Shun is the proper one for China.
1. Pâi Kwei said, 'I want to take a twentieth of the produce only
as the tax. What do you think of it?'
2. Mencius said, 'Your way would be that of the Mo.
3. 'In a country of ten thousand families, would it do to have only one
potter?' Kwei replied, 'No. The vessels would not be enough to use.'
4. Mencius went on, 'In Mo all the five kinds of grain are not grown; it
only produces the millet. There are no fortified cities, no edifices, no
ancestral temples, no ceremonies of sacrifice; there are no princes
requiring presents and entertainments; there is no system of officers with
their various subordinates. On these accounts a tax of one-twentieth of the
produce is sufficient there.
5. 'But now it is the Middle Kingdom that we live in. To banish the
relationships of men, and have no superior men;-- how can such a state of
things be thought of?
6. 'With but few potters a kingdom cannot subsist;-- how much less can
it subsist without men of a higher rank than others?
7. 'If we wish to make the taxation lighter than the system of Yâo
and Shun, we shall just have a great Mo and a small Mo. If we wish to make
it heavier, we shall just have the great Chieh and the small Chieh.'
Pâi Kwei's presumptuous idea that he could regulate the waters
better than Yü did.
1. Pâi Kwei said, 'My management of the waters is superior to that
2. Mencius replied, 'You are wrong, Sir. Yü's regulation of the
waters was according to the laws of water.
3. 'He therefore made the four seas their receptacle, while you make the
neighbouring States their receptacle.
4. 'Water flowing out of its channels is called an inundation.
Inundating waters are a vast waste of water, and what a benevolent man
detests. You are wrong, my good Sir.'
Faith in principles necessary to firmness in action.
Mencius said, 'If a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a
firm hold of things?'
Of what importance to a minister-- to government-- it is to love what is
1. The prince of Lû wanting to commit the administration of his
government to the disciple Yo-chang, Mencius said, 'When I heard of it, I
was so glad that I could not sleep.'
2. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked, 'Is Yo-chang a man of vigour?' and was
answered, 'No.' 'Is he wise in council?' 'No.' 'Is he possessed of much
3. 'What then made you so glad that you could not sleep?'
4. 'He is a man who loves what is good.'
5. 'Is the love of what is good sufficient?'
6. 'The love of what is good is more than a sufficient qualification for
the government of the kingdom;-- how much more is it so for the State of
7. 'If a minister love what is good, all within the four seas will count
1000 lî but a small distance, and will come and lay their good thoughts
8. If he do not love what is good, men will say, "How self-conceited he
looks? He is sayinq to himself, I know it." The language and looks of that
self-conceit will keep men off at a distance of 1,000 lî. When good
men stop 1,000 lî off, calumniators, flatterers, and sycophants will
make their appearance. When a minister lives among calumniators,
flatterers, and sycophants, though he may wish the State to be well
governed, is it possible for it to be so?'
Grounds of taking and leaving office.
1. The disciple Ch'an said, 'What were the principles on which superior
men of old took office?' Mencius replied, 'There were three cases in which
they accepted office, and three in which they left it.
2. 'If received with the utmost respect and all polite observances, and
they could say to themselves that the prince would carry their words into
practice, then they took office with him. Afterwards, although there might
be no remission in the polite demeanour of the prince, if their words were
not carried into practice, they would leave him.
3. 'The second case was that in which, though the prince could not be
expected at once to carry their words into practice, yet being received by
him with the utmost respect, they took office with him. But afterwards, if
there was a remission in his polite demeanour, they would leave him.
4. 'The last case was that of the superior man who had nothing to eat,
either morning or evening, and was so famished that he could not move out
of his door. If the prince, on hearing of his state, said, "I must fail in
the great point,-- that of carrying his doctrines into practice, neither am
I able to follow his words, but I am ashamed to allow him to die of want in
my country;" the assistance offered in such a case might be received, but
not beyond what was sufficient to avert death.'
Trials and hardships the way in which Heaven prepares men for great
1. Mencius said, 'Shun rose from among the channelled fields. Fû
Yüeh was called to office from the midst of his building frames;
Chiâo-ko from his fish and salt; Kwan Î-wû from the hands
of his gaoler; Sun-shû Âo from his hiding by the sea-shore; and
Pâi-lî Hsî from the market-place.
2. 'Thus, when Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it
first exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with
toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty.
It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it stimulates his mind,
hardens his nature, and supplies his incompetencies.
3. 'Men for the most part err, and are afterwards able to reform. They
are distressed in mind and perplexed in their thoughts, and then they arise
to vigorous reformation. When things have been evidenced in men's looks,
and set forth in their words, then they understand them.
4. 'If a prince have not about his court families attached to the laws
and worthy counsellors, and if abroad there are not hostile States or other
external calamities, his kingdom will generally come to ruin.
5. 'From these things we see how life springs from sorrow and calamity,
and death from ease and pleasure.'
How a refusal to teach may be teaching.
Mencius said, 'There are many arts in teaching. I refuse, as
inconsistent with my character, to teach a man, but I am only thereby still
Book VII, Part I:
By the study of ourselves we come to the knowledge of Heaven, and Heaven
is served by our obeying our nature?
1. Mencius said, 'He who has exhausted all his mental constitution knows
his nature. Knowing his nature, he knows Heaven.
2. 'To preserve one's mental constitution, and nourish one's nature, is
the way to serve Heaven.
3. 'When neither a premature death nor long life causes a man any
double-mindedness, but he waits in the cultivation of his personal
character for whatever issue;-- this is the way in which he establishes his
Man's duty as affected by the decrees or appointments of Heaven. What may
be correctly described ascribed thereto and what not.
1. Mencius said, 'There is an appointment for everything. A man should
receive submissively what may be correctly ascribed thereto.
2. 'Therefore, he who has the true idea of what is Heaven's appointment
will not stand beneath a precipitous wall.
3. 'Death sustained in the discharge of one's duties may correctly be
ascribed to the appointment of Heaven.
4. 'Death under handcuffs and fetters cannot correctly be so
Virtue is sure to be gained by seeking it, but riches and other external
1. Mencius said, 'When we get by our seeking and lose by our
neglecting;-- in that case seeking is of use to getting, and the things
sought for are those which are in ourselves.
2. 'When the seeking is according to the proper course, and the getting
is only as appointed;-- in that case the seeking is of no use to getting,
and the things sought are without ourselves.'
Man is fitted for, and happy in, doing good, and may perfect himself
1. Mencius said, 'All things are already complete in us.
2. 'There is no greater delight than to be conscious of sincerity on
3. 'If one acts with a vigorous effort at the law of reciprocity, when
he seeks for the realization of perfect virtue, nothing can be closer than
his approximation to it.'
How many act without thought.
Mencius said, 'To act without understanding, and to do so
habitually without examination, pursuing the proper path all the life
without knowing its nature;-- this is the way of multitudes.'
The value of the feeling of shame.
Mencius said, 'A man may not be without shame. When one is ashamed of
having been without shame, he will afterwards not have occasion to be
The same subject.
1. Mencius said, 'The sense of shame is to a man of great
2. 'Those who form contrivances and versatile schemes distinguished for
their artfulness, do not allow their sense of shame to come into action.
3. 'When one differs from other men in not having this sense of shame, what
will he have in common with them?'
How the ancient scholars maintained the dignity of their character and
Mencius said, 'The able and virtuous monarchs of antiquity loved virtue
and forgot their power. And shall an exception be made of the able and
virtuous scholars of antiquity, that they did not do the same? They
delighted in their own principles, and were oblivious of the power of
princes. Therefore, if kings and dukes did not show the utmost respect, and
observe all forms of ceremony, they were not permitted to come frequently
and visit them. If they thus found it not in their power to pay them
frequent visits, how much less could they get to employ them as
How a professional advisor of the princes might be always perfectly
satisfied. The example of antiquity.
1. Mencius said to Sung Kâu-ch'ien, 'Are you fond, Sir, of
travelling to the different courts? I will tell you about such
2. 'If a prince acknowledge you and follow your counsels, be perfectly
satisfied. If no one do so, be the same.'
3. Kâu-ch'ien said, 'What is to be done to secure this perfect
satisfaction?' Mencius replied, 'Honour virtue and delight in
righteousness, and so you may always be perfectly satisfied.
4. 'Therefore, a scholar, though poor, does not let go his righteousness;
though prosperous, he does not leave his own path.
5. 'Poor and not letting righteousness go;-- it is thus that the scholar
holds possession of himself. Prosperous and not leaving the proper path;--
it is thus that the expectations of the people from him are not
6. 'When the men of antiquity realized their wishes, benefits were
conferred by them on the people. If they did not realize their wishes, they
cultivated their personal character, and became illustrious in the world.
If poor, they attended to their own virtue in solitude; if advanced to
dignity, they made the whole kingdom virtuous as well.'
How people should get their inspiration to good in themselves.
Mencius said, 'The mass of men wait for a king Wan, and then they will
receive a rousing impulse. Scholars distinguished from the mass, without a
king Wan, rouse themselves.'
Not to be elated by riches is a proof of superiority.
Mencius said, 'Add to a man the families of Han and Wei. If he then look
upon himself without being elated, he is far beyond the mass of men.'
When a ruler's aim is evidently the people's good, they will not murmur
at his harshest measures.
Mencius said, 'Let the people be employed in the way which is intended
to secure their ease, and though they be toiled, they will not murmur. Let
them be put to death in the way which is intended to preserve their lives,
and though they die, they will not murmur at him who puts them to
The different influence exercised by a chief among the princes, and by a
1. Mencius said, 'Under a chief, leading all the princes, the people
look brisk and cheerful. Under a true sovereign, they have an air of deep
2. 'Though he slay them, they do not murmur. When he benefits them, they
do not think of his merit. From day to day they make progress towards what
is good, without knowing who makes them do so.
3. 'Wherever the superior man passes through, transformation follows;
wherever he abides, his influence is of a spiritual nature. It flows
abroad, above and beneath, like that of Heaven and Earth. How can it be
said that he mends society but in a small way!'
1. Mencius said, 'Kindly words do not enter so deeply into men
as a reputation for kindness.
2. 'Good government does not lay hold of the people so much as good
3. 'Good government is feared by the people, while good instructions are
loved by them. Good government gets the people's wealth, while good
instructions get their hearts.'
Benevolence and righteousness are natural to man, parts of his
1. Mencius said, 'The ability possessed by men without having been
acquired by learning is intuitive ability, and the knowledge possessed by
them without the exercise of thought is their intuitive knowledge.
2. 'Children carried in the arms all know to love their parents, and when
they are grown a little, they all know to love their elder brothers.
3. 'Filial affection for parents is the working of benevolence. Respect for
elders is the working of righteousness. There is no other reason for those
feelings;-- they belong to all under heaven.'
How what Shun was discovered itself in his greatest obscurity.
Mencius said, 'When Shun was living amid the deep retired mountains,
dwelling with the trees and rocks, and wandering among the deer and swine,
the difference between him and the rude inhabitants of those remote hills
appeared very small. But when he heard a single good word, or saw a single
good action, he was like a stream or a river bursting its banks, and
flowing out in an irresistible flood.'
A man has but to obey the law in himself.
Mencius said, 'Let a man not do what his own sense of righteousness
tells him not to do, and let him not desire what his sense of
righteousness tells him not to desire;-- to act thus is all he has to
The benefits of trouble and affliction.
1. Mencius said, 'Men who are possessed of intelligent virtue and
prudence in affairs will generally be found to have been in sickness and
2. 'They are the friendless minister and concubine's son, who keep their
hearts under a sense of peril, and use deep precautions against calamity.
On this account they become distinguished for their intelligence.'
Four different classes of ministers.
1. Mencius said, 'There are persons who serve the prince;-- they
serve the prince, that is, for the sake of his countenance and favour.
2. 'There are ministers who seek the tranquillity of the State, and find
their pleasure in securing that tranquillity.
3. 'There are those who are the people of Heaven. They, judging that, if
they were in office, they could carry out their principles, throughout the
kingdom, proceed so to carry them out.
4. 'There are those who are great men. They rectify themselves and others
The things which the superior man delights in.
1. Mencius said, 'The superior man has three things in which he
delights, and to be ruler over the kingdom is not one of them.
2. 'That his father and mother are both alive, and that the condition of
his brothers affords no cause for anxiety;-- this is one delight.
3. 'That, when looking up, he has no occasion for shame before Heaven,
and, below, he has no occasion to blush before men;-- this is a second
4. 'That he can get from the whole kingdom the most talented individuals,
and teach and nourish them;-- this is the third delight.
5. 'The superior man has three things in which he delights, and to be
ruler over the kingdom is not one of them.'
Man's own nature the most important thing to him, and the source of his
1. Mencius said, 'Wide territory and a numerous people are
desired by the superior man, but what he delights in is not here.
2. 'To stand in the centre of the kingdom, and tranquillize the people
within the four seas;-- the superior man delights in this, but the highest
enjoyment of his nature is not here.
3. What belongs by his nature to the superior man cannot be increased by
the largeness of his sphere of action, nor diminished by his dwelling in
poverty and retirement;-- for this reason that it is determinately
apportioned to him by Heaven.
4. 'What belongs by his nature to the superior man are benevolence,
righteousness, propriety, and knowledge. These are rooted in his heart;
their growth and manifestation are a mild harmony appearing in the
countenance, a rich fullness in the back, and the character imparted to the
four limbs. Those limbs understand to arrange themselves, without being
The government of king Wan by which the aged were nourished.
1. Mencius said, 'Po-î, that he might avoid Châu, was
dwelling on the coast of the northern sea when he heard of the rise of king
Wan. He roused himself and said, "Why should I not go and follow him? I
have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old."
T'âi-kung, to avoid Châu, was dwelling on the coast of the
eastern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wan, he said, "Why should I
not go and follow him? I have heard that the chief if the West knows well
how to nourish the old." If there were a prince in the kingdom, who knew
well how to nourish the old, all men of virtue would feel that he was the
proper object for them to gather to.
2. 'Around the homestead with its five mâu, the space beneath the
walls was planted with mulberry trees, with which the women nourished
silkworms, and thus the old were able to have silk to wear. Each family had
five brood hens and two brood sows, which were kept to their breeding
seasons, and thus the old were able to have flesh to eat. The husbandmen
cultivated their farms of 100 mâu, and thus their families of eight
mouths were secured against want.
3. 'The expression, "The chief of the West knows well how to nourish the
old," refers to his regulation of the fields and dwellings, his teaching
them to plant the mulberry and nourish those animals, and his instructing
the wives and children, so as to make them nourish their aged. At fifty,
warmth cannot be maintained without silks, and at seventy flesh is
necessary to satisfy the appetite. Persons not kept warm nor supplied with
food are said to be starved and famished, but among the people of king Wan,
there were no aged who were starved or famished. This is the meaning of
the expression in question.'
To promote the virtue of the people, the first care of a government
should be to consult for their being well off.
1. Mencius said, 'Let it be seen to that their fields of grain and hemp
are well cultivated, and make the taxes on them light;-- so the people may
be made rich.
2. 'Let it be seen to that the people use their resources of food
seasonably, and expend their wealth only on the prescribed ceremonies:-- so
their wealth will be more than can be consumed.
3. 'The people cannot live without water and fire, yet if you knock at
a man's door in the dusk of the evening, and ask for water and fire, there
is no man who will not give them, such is the abundance of these things. A
sage governs the kingdom so as to cause pulse and grain to be as abundant
as water and fire. When pulse and grain are as abundant as water and fire,
how shall the people be other than virtuous?'
How the great doctrines of the sages dwarf all smaller doctrines, and
yet are to be advanced to by successive steps.
1. Mencius said, 'Confucius ascended the eastern hill, and Lû
appeared to him small. He ascended the T'âi mountain, and all beneath
the heavens appeared to him small. So he who has contemplated the sea,
finds it difficult to think anything of other waters, and he who has
wandered in the gate of the sage, finds it difficult to think anything of
the words of others.
2. 'There is an art in the contemplation of water.-- It is necessary to
look at it as foaming in waves. The sun and moon being possessed of
brilliancy, their light admitted even through an orifice illuminates.
3. 'Flowing water is a thing which does not proceed till it has filled
the hollows in its course. The student who has set his mind on the
doctrines of the sage, does not advance to them but by completing one
lesson after another.'
The different results to which the love of good and the love of gain
1. Mencius said, 'He who rises at cock-crowing and addresses himself
earnestly to the practice of virtue, is a disciple of Shun.
2. 'He who rises at cock-crowing, and addresses himself earnestly to the
pursuit of giin, is a disciple of Chih.
3. 'If you want to know what separates Shun from Chih, it is simply
this,-- the interval between the thought of gain and the thought of
The errors of Yang, Mo, and Tsze-mo. Obstinate adherence to a course
which we may deem abstractly right is perilous.
1. Mencius said, 'The principle of the philosopher Yang was-- "Each one
for himself." Though he might have benefited the whole kingdom by plucking
out a single hair, he would not have done it.
2. 'The philosopher Mo loves all equally. If by rubbing smooth his whole
body from the crown to the heel, he could have benefited the kingdom, he
would have done it.
3. 'Tsze-mo holds a medium between these. By holding that medium, he is
nearer the right. But by holding it without leaving room for the exigency
of circumstances, it becomes like their holding their one point.
4. 'The reason why I hate that holding to one point is the injury it
does to the way of right principle. It takes up one point and disregards a
The importance of not allowing the mind to be injured by poverty and
1. Mencius said, 'The hungry think any food sweet, and the thirsty think
the same of any drink, and thus they do not get the right taste of what
they eat and drink. The hunger and thirst, in fact, injure their palate.
And is it only the mouth and belly which are injured by hunger and thirst?
Men's minds are also injured by them.
2. 'If a man can prevent the evils of hunger and thirst from being any
evils to his mind, he need not have any sorrow about not being equal to
Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ's firmness.
Mencius said, 'Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ would not for the three
highest offices of State have changed his firm purpose of life.'
Only that labour is to be prized which accomplishes its object.
Mencius said, 'A man with definite aims to be accomplished may be
compared to one digging a well. To dig the well to a depth of seventy-two
cubits, and stop without reaching the spring, is after all throwing away
The difference between Yâo, Shun, T'ang, and Wû, on the one
hand, and the five chiefs, on the other, in relation to benevolence and
1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence and righteousness were natural to
Yâo and Shun. T'ang and Wû made them their own. The five chiefs
of the princes feigned them.
2. 'Having borrowed them long and not returned them, how could it be
known they did not own them?'
The end may justify the means, but the principle should not be readily
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Î Yin said, "I cannot be near and
see him so disobedient to reason," and therewith he banished
T'â-chiâ to T'ung. The people were much pleased. When
T'â-chiâ became virtuous, he brought him back, and the people
were again much pleased.
2. 'When worthies are ministers, may they indeed banish their sovereigns
in this way when they are not virtuous?'
3. Mencius replied, 'If they have the same purpose as Î Yin, they
may. If they have not the same purpose, it would be usurpation.'
The services which a superior man renders to a country entitle him,
without his doing official duty, to support.
Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'It is said, in the Book of Poetry,
"He will not eat the bread of idleness!"
How is it that we see superior men eating without
labouring?' Mencius replied, 'When a superior man resides in a country, if
its sovereign employ his counsels, he comes to tranquillity, wealth and
glory. If the young in it follow his instructions, they become filial,
obedient to their elders, true-hearted, and faithful. What greater example
can there be than this of not eating the bread of idleness?'
How a scholar prepares himself for the duties to which he aspires.
1. The king's son, Tien, asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the business of
the unemployed scholar?'
2. Mencius replied, 'To exalt his aim.'
3. Tien asked again, 'What do you mean by exalting the aim?' The answer
was, 'Setting it simply on benevolence and righteousness. He thinks how to
put a single innocent person to death is contrary to benevolence; how to
take what one has not a right to is contrary to righteousness; that one's
dwelling should be benevolence; and one's path should be righteousness.
Where else should he dwell? What other path should he pursue? When
benevolence is the dwelling-place of the heart, and righteousness the path
of the life, the business of a great man is complete.'
How men judge wrongly of character, overlooking, in their admiration of
one striking excellence, great failures and deficiencies.
Mencius said, 'Supposing that the kingdom of Ch'î were offered,
contrary to righteousness, to Ch'an Chung, he would not receive it, and all
people believe in him, as a man of the highest worth. But this is only the
righteousness which declines a dish of rice or a plate of soup. A man can
have no greater crimes than to disown his parents and relatives, and the
relations of sovereign and minister, superiors and inferiors. How can it be
allowed to give a man credit for the great excellences because he possesses
a small one?'
What Shun and his minister of crime would have done, if Shun's father
had committed a murder.
1. T'âo Ying asked, saying, 'Shun being sovereign, and
Kâo-yâo chief minister of justice, if Kû-sâu had
murdered a man, what would have been done in the case?'
2. Mencius said, 'Kâo-yâo would simply have apprehended
3. 'But would not Shun have forbidden such a thing?'
4. 'Indeed, how could Shun have forbidden it? Kâo-yâo had
received the law from a proper source.'
5. 'In that case what would Shun have done?'
6. 'Shun would have regarded abandoning the kingdom as throwing away a
worn-out sandal. He would privately have taken his father on his back, and
retired into concealment, living some where along the sea-coast. There he
would have been all his life, cheerful and happy, forgetting the
How one's material position affects his air, and much more may moral
character be expected to do so.
1. Mencius, going from Fan to Ch'î, saw the king of Ch'î's
son at a distance, and said with a deep sigh, 'One's position alters the
air, just as the nurture affects the body. Great is the influence of
position! Are we not all men's sons in this respect?'
2. Mencius said, 'The residence, the carriages and horses, and the dress
of the king's son, are mostly the same as those of other men. That he looks
so is occasioned by his position. How much more should a peculiar air
distinguish him whose position is in the wide house of the world!
3. 'When the prince of Lû went to Sung, he called out at the
T'ieh-châi gate, and the keeper said, "This is not our prince. How is
it that his voice is so like that of our prince?" This was occasioned by
nothing but the correspondence of their positions.'
That he be respected is essential to a scholar's engaging in the service
of a prince.
1. Mencius said, 'To feed a scholar and not love him, is to treat him as
a pig. To love him and not respect him, is to keep him as a domestic
2. 'Honouring and respecting are what exist before any offering of
3. 'If there be honouring and respecting without the reality of them, a
superior man may not be retained by such empty demonstrations.'
Only with a sage does the body act according to its design.
Mencius said, 'The bodily organs with their functions belong to our
Heaven-conferred nature. But a man must be a sage before he can satisfy the
design of his bodily organization.'
Reproof of Kung-sun Ch'âu for assenting to the proposal to shorten
the period of mourning.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î wanted to shorten the period of
mourning. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'To have one whole year's mourning is
better than doing away with it altogether.'
2. Mencius said, 'That is just as if there were one twisting the arm of
his elder brother, and you were merely to say to him "Gently, gently, if
you please." Your only course should be to teach such an one filial piety
and fraternal duty.'
3. At that time, the mother of one of the king's sons had died, and his
tutor asked for him that he might be allowed to observe a few months'
mourning. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked, 'What do you say of this?'
4. Mencius replied, 'This is a case where the party wishes to complete
the whole period, but finds it impossible to do so. The addition of even a
single day is better than not mourning at all. I spoke of the case where
there was no hindrance, and the party neglected the thing itself.'
How the lessons of the sage reach to all different classes.
1. Mencius said, 'There are five ways in which the superior man effects
2. 'There are some on whom his influence descends like seasonable
3. 'There are some whose virtue he perfects, and some of whose talents
he assists the development.
4. 'There are some whose inquiries he answers.
5. 'There are some who privately cultivate and correct themselves.
6. These five ways are the methods in which the superior man effects his
The teacher of truth may not lower his lessons to suit his learners.
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Lofty are your principles and admirable,
but to learn them may well be likened to ascending the heavens,-- something
which cannot be reached. Why not adapt your teaching so as to cause
learners to consider them attainable, and so daily exert themselves!'
2. Mencius said, 'A great artificer does not, for the sake of a stupid
workman, alter or do away with the marking-line. Î did not, for the
sake of a stupid archer, charge his rule for drawing the bow.
3. 'The superior man draws the bow, but does not discharge the arrow,
having seemed to leap with it to the mark; and he there stands exactly in
the middle of the path. Those who are able, follow him.'
One must live or die with his principles, acting from himself, not with
regard to other men.
1. Mencius said, 'When right principles prevail throughout the kingdom,
one's principles must appear along with one's person. When right principles
disappear from the kingdom, one's person must vanish along with one's
2. 'I have not heard of one's principles being dependent for their
manifestation on other men.'
How Mencius required the simple pursuit of truth in those whom he
1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'When Kang of T'ang made his
appearance in your school, it seemed proper that a polite consideration
should be paid to him, and yet you did not answer him. Why was that?'
2. Mencius replied, 'I do not answer him who questions me presuming on
his nobility, nor him who presumes on his talents, nor him who presumes on
his age, nor him who presumes on services performed to me, nor him who
presumes on old acquaintance. Two of those things were chargeable on Kang
Failures in evident duty will be accompanied by failure in all duty.
Precipitate advances are followed by speedy retreats.
1. Mencius said, 'He who stops short where stopping is acknowledged to
be not allowable, will stop short in everything. He who behaves shabbily to
those whom he ought to treat well, will behave shabbily to all.
2. 'He who advances with precipitation will retire with speed.'
The superior man is kind to creatures, loving to other men, and
affectionate to his relatives.
Mencius said, 'In regard to inferior creatures, the superior man is kind
to them, but not loving. In regard to people generally, he is loving to
them, but not affectionate. He is affectionate to his parents, and lovingly
disposed to people generally. He is lovingly disposed to people generally,
and kind to creatures.'
Against the princes of his time who occupied themselves with the
knowledge of, and regard for, what was of little importance.
1. Mencius said, 'The wise embrace all knowledge, but they are most
earnest about what is of the greatest importance. The benevolent embrace
all in their love, but what they consider of the greatest importance is to
cultivate an earnest affection for the virtuous. Even the wisdom of
Yâo and Shun did not extend to everything, but they attended
earnestly to what was important. Their benevolence did not show itself in
acts of kindness to every man, but they earnestly cultivated an affection
for the virtuous.
2. 'Not to be able to keep the three years' mourning, and to be very
particular about that of three months, or that of five months; to eat
immoderately and swill down the soup, and at the same time to inquire about
the precept not to tear the meat with the teeth;-- such things show what I
call an ignorance of what is most important.
Book VII, Part II:
A strong condemnation of king Hûi of Liang, for sacrificing to his
ambition his people and even his son.
1. Mencius said, 'The opposite indeed of benevolent was the king
Hûi of Liang! The benevolent, beginning with what they care for,
proceed to what they do not care for. Those who are the opposite of
benevolent, beginning with what they do not care for, proceed to what they
2. 'Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'What do you mean?' Mencius answered,
'The king Hûi of Liang, for the matter of territory, tore and
destroyed his people, leading them to battle. Sustaining a great defeat, he
would engage again, and afraid lest they should not be able to secure the
victory, urged his son whom he loved till he sacrificed him with them. This
is what I call-- "beginning with what they do not care for, and proceeding
to what they care for."'
How all the fightings recorded in the Ch'un-ch'iû were
unrighteous:-- a warning to the contending States of Mencius's time.
1. Mencius said, 'In the "Spring and Autumn" there are no righteous
wars. Instances indeed there are of one war better than another.
2. '"Correction" is when the supreme authority punishes its subjects by
force of arms. Hostile States do not correct one another.'
With what reservation Mencius read the Shû-ching.
1. Mencius said, 'It would be better to be without the Book of
History than to give entire credit to it.
2. 'In the "Completion of the War," I select two or three passages only,
which I believe.
3. '"The benevolent man has no enemy under heaven. When the prince the
most benevolent was engaged against him who was the most the opposite, how
could the blood of the people have flowed till it floated the pestles of
Counsel to princes not to allow themselves to be deceived by men who
would advise them to war.
1. Mencius said, 'There are men who say-- "I am skilful at marshalling
troops, I am skilful at conducting a battle!"-- They are great criminals.
2. 'If the ruler of a State love benevolence, he will have no enemy in
3. When T'ang was executing his work of correction in the south, the
rude tribes on the north murmured. When he was executing it in the east,
the rude tribes on the west murmured. Their cry was-- "Why does he make us
4. 'When king Wû punished Yin, he had only three hundred chariots
of war, and three thousand life-guards.
5. 'The king said, "Do not fear. Let me give you repose. I am no enemy
to the people!" On this, they bowed their heads to the earth, like the horns
of animals falling off.
6. '"Royal correction" is but another word for rectifying. Each State
wishing itself to be corrected, what need is there for fighting?'
Real attainment must be made by the learner for himself.
Mencius said, 'A carpenter or a carriage-maker may give a man the
circle and square, but cannot make him skilful in the use of them.'
The equinamity of Shun in poverty and as sovereign.
Mencius said, 'Shun's manner of eating his parched grain and herbs was
as if he were to be doing so all his life. When he became sovereign, and
had the embroidered robes to wear, the lute to play, and the two daughters
of Yâo to wait on him, he was as if those things belonged to him as a
matter of course.'
How the thought of its consequences should make men careful of their
Mencius said, 'From this time forth I know the heavy consequences of
killing a man's near relations. When a man kills another's father, that
other will kill his father; when a man kills another's elder brother, that
other will kill his elder brother. So he does not himself indeed do the
act, but there is only an interval between him and it.'
The benevolence and selfishness of ancient and modern rule contrasted.
1. Mencius said, 'Anciently, the establishment of the frontier-gates was
to guard against violence.
2. 'Nowadays, it is to exercise violence.'
A man's influence depends on his personal example and conduct.
Mencius said, 'If a man himself do not walk in the right path, it will
not be walked in even by his wife and children. If he order men according
to what is not the right way, he will not be able to get the obedience of
even his wife and children.'
Corrupt times are provided against by established virtue.
Mencius said, 'A bad year cannot prove the cause of death to him whose
stores of gain are large; an age of corruption cannot confound him whose
equipment of virtue is complete.'
A man's true disposition will often appear in small matters, when a love
of fame may have carried him over great difficulties.
Mencius said, 'A man who loves fame may be able to decline a State of a
thousand chariots; but if he be not really the man to do such a thing, it
will appear in his countenance, in the matter of a dish of rice or a
platter of soup.'
Three things important in the administration of a State.
1. Mencius said, 'If men of virtue and ability be not confided in, a
State will become empty and void.
2. 'Without the rules of propriety and distinctions of right, the high
and the low will be thrown into confusion.
3. 'Without the great principles of government and their various
business, there will not be wealth sufficient for the expenditure.'
Only by benevolence can the throne be got.
Mencius said, 'There are instances of individuals without benevolence,
who have got possession of a single State, but there has been no instance
of the throne's being got by one without benevolence.'
The different elements of a nation-- the People, tutelary Spirits, and
Sovereign, in respect of their importance.
1. Mencius said, 'The people are the most important element in a
nation; the spirits of the land and grain are the next; the sovereign is
2. 'Therefore to gain the peasantry is the way to become sovereign; to
gain the sovereign is the way to become a prince of a State; to gain the
prince of a State is the way to become a great officer.
3. 'When a prince endangers the altars of the spirits of the land and
grain, he is changed, and another appointed in his place.
4. 'When the sacrificial victims have been perfect, the millet in its
vessels all pure, and the sacrifices offered at their proper seasons, if
yet there ensue drought, or the waters overflow, the spirits of the land
and grain are changed, and others appointed in their place.'
That Po-î and Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ were sages proved
by the permanence of their influence.
Mencius said, 'A sage is the teacher of a hundred generations:-- this is
true of Po-î and Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ. Therefore when
men now bear the character of Po-î, the corrupt become pure, and the
weak acquire determination. When they hear the character of Hûi of
Liû-Hsiâ, the mean become generous, and the niggardly become
liberal. Those two made themselves distinguished a hundred generations ago,
and after a hundred generations, those who hear of them, are all aroused in
this manner. Could such effects be produced by them, if they had not been
sages? And how much more did they affect those who were in contiguity with
them, and felt their inspiring influence!'
The relation of benevolence to man.
Mencius said, 'Benevolence is the distinguishing characteristic of man.
As embodied in man's conduct, it is called the path of duty.'
How Confucius's leaving Lû and Ch'î was different.
Mencius said, 'When Confucius was leaving Lû, he said, "I will set
out by-and-by;"-- this was the way in which to leave the State of his
parents. When he was leaving Ch'î, he strained off with his hand the
water in which his rice was being rinsed, took the rice, and went away;--
this was the way in which to leave a strange State.'
The reason of Confucius's being in straits between Ch'an and Ts'âi.
Mencius said, 'The reason why the superior man was reduced to straits
between Ch'an and Ts'âi was because neither the princes of the time
nor their ministers sympathized or communicated with him.'
Mencius comforts Mo Ch'î under calumny by the reflection that it
was the ordinary lot of distinguished men.
1. Mo Ch'î said, 'Greatly am I from anything to depend upon from
the mouths of men.'
2. Mencius observed, 'There is no harm in that. Scholars are more exposed
than others to suffer from the mouths of men.
3. 'It is said, in the Book of Poetry,
"My heart is disquieted and grieved,
I am hated by the crowd of mean creatures."
This might have been said by Confucius. And again,
"Though he did not remove their wrath,
He did not let fall his own fame."
This might be said of king Wan.'
How the ancients led on men by their example, while the reulers of
Mencius's time tried to urge men contrary to their example.
Mencius said, 'Anciently, men of virtue and talents by means of their
own enlightenment made others enlightened. Nowadays, it is tried, while
they are themselves in darkness, and by means of that darkness, to make
That the cultivation of of the mind may not be intermitted.
Mencius said to the disciple Kâo, 'There are the footpaths along
the hills;-- if suddenly they be used, they become roads; and if, as
suddenly they are not used, the wild grass fills them up. Now, the wild
grass fills up your mind.'
An absurd remark of the disciple Kâo about the music of Yü
and king Wan.
1. The disciple Kâo said, 'The music of Yü was better than that
of king Wan.'
2. Mencius observed, 'On what ground do you say so?' and the other
replied, 'Because at the pivot the knob of Yü's bells is nearly worn
3. Mencius said, 'How can that be a sufficient proof? Are the ruts at
the gate of a city made by a single two-horsed chariot?'
How Mencius knew where to stop and maintain his own dignity in his
intercourse with the princes.
1. When Ch'î was suffering from famine, Ch'an Tsin said to
Mencius, 'The people are all thinking that you, Master, will again ask that
the granary of T'ang be opened for them. I apprehend you will not do so a
2. Mencius said, 'To do it would be to act like Fang Fû. There was
a man of that name in Tsin, famous for his skill in seizing tigers.
Afterwards he became a scholar of reputation, and going once out to the
wild country, he found the people all in pursuit of a tiger. The tiger took
refuge in a corner of a hill, where no one dared to attack him, but when
they saw Fang Fû, they ran and met him. Fang Fû immediately
bared his arms, and descended from the carriage. The multitude were pleased
with him, but those who were scholars laughed at him.
How the superior man subjects the gratification of his natural appetites
to the will of Heaven, and pursues the doing of good without thinking that
the amount which he can do may be limited by that will.
1. Mencius said, 'For the mouth to desire sweet tastes, the eye to
desire beautiful colours, the ear to desire pleasant sounds, the nose to
desire fragrant odours, and the four limbs to desire ease and rest;-- these
things are natural. But there is the appointment of Heaven in connexion
with them, and the superior man does not say of his pursuit of them, "It is
2. 'The exercise of love between father and son, the observance of
righteousness between sovereign and minister, the rules of ceremony between
guest and host, the display of knowledge in recognising the talented, and
the fulfilling the heavenly course by the sage;-- these are the appointment
of Heaven. But there is an adaptation of our nature for them. The superior
man does not say, in reference to them, "It is the appointment of
The character of the disciple Yo-chang. Different degrees of attainment
in character, which are to be aimed at.
1. Hâo-shang Pû-hâi asked, saying, 'What sort of man
is Yo-chang?' Mencius replied, 'He is a good man, a real man.'
2. 'What do you mean by "A good man," "A real man?"'
3. The reply was, 'A man who commands our liking is what is called a
4. 'He whose goodness is part of himself is what is called real man.
5. 'He whose goodness has been filled up is what is called beautiful
6. He whose completed goodness is brightly displayed is what is called a
7. 'When this great man exercises a transforming influence, he is what is
called a sage.
8. 'When the sage is beyond our knowledge, he is what is called a
9. 'Yo-chang is between the two first characters, and below the four
Receovered heretics should be received without casting their old errors
in their teeth.
1. Mencius said, 'Those who are fleeing from the errors of Mo naturally
turn to Yang, and those who are fleeing from the errors of Yang naturally
turn to orthodoxy. When they so turn, they should at once and simply be
2. 'Those who nowadays dispute with the followers of Yang and Mo do so
as if they were pursuing a stray pig, the leg of which, after they have got
it to enter the pen, they proceed to tie.'
The just exactions of the government are to be made discriminatingly and
Mencius said, 'There are the exactions of hempen-cloth and silk, of
grain, and of personal service. The prince requires but one of these at
once, deferring the other two. If he require two of them at once, then the
people die of hunger. If he require the three at once, then fathers and
sons are separated.'
The precious things of a prince, and the danger of overlooking them for
Mencius said, 'The precious things of a prince are three;-- the
territory, the people, the government and its business. If one value as
most precious pearls and jade, calamity is sure to befall him.'
How Mencius predicted beforehand the death of P'an-ch'ang Kwo.
Pan-ch'ang Kwo having obtained an official situation in Ch'î,
Mencius said, 'He is a dead man, that Pan-ch'ang Kwo!' Pan-chang Kwo being
put to death, the disciples asked, saying, 'How did you know, Master, that
he would meet with death?' Mencius replied, 'He was a man, who had a little
ability, but had not learned the great doctrines of the superior man. He
was just qualified to bring death upon himself, but for nothing more.'
The generous spirit of Mencius in dispensing his instructions.
1. When Mencius went to T'ang, he was lodged in the Upper palace. A
sandal in the process of making had been placed there in a window, and when
the keeper of the place came to look for it, he could not find it.
2. On this, some one asked Mencius, saying, 'Is it thus that your
followers pilfer?' Mencius replied, 'Do you think that they came here to
pilfer the sandal?' The man said, 'I apprehend not. But you, Master, having
arranged to give lessons, do not go back to inquire into the past, and you
do not reject those who come to you. If they come with the mind to learn,
you receive them without any more ado.'
A man has only to give development to the principles of good which are
in him, and show themselves in some things, to be entirely good and
1. Mencius said, 'All men have some things which they cannot bear;--
extend that feeling to what they can bear, and benevolence will be the
result. All men have some things which they will not do;-- extend that
feeling to the things which they do, and righteousness will be the
2. 'If a man can give full development to the feeling which makes him
shrink from injuring others, his benevolence will be more than can be
called into practice. If he can give full development to the feeling which
refuses to break through, or jump over, a wall, his righteousness will be
more than can be called into practice.
3. 'If he can give full development to the real feeling of dislike with
which he receives the salutation, "Thou," "Thou," he will act righteously
in all places and circumstances.
4. 'When a scholar speaks what he ought not to speak, by guile of speech
seeking to gain some end; and when he does not speak what he ought to
speak, by guile of silence seeking to gain some end;-- both these cases are
of a piece with breaking through a neighbour's wall.'
Against aiming at what is remote, and neglecting what is near. What are
good words and good principles.
1. Mencius said, 'Words which are simple, while their meaning is
far-reaching, are good words. Principles which, as held, are compendious,
while their application is extensive, are good principles. The words of the
superior man do not go below the girdle, but great principles are contained
2. 'The principle which the superior man holds is that of personal
cultivation, but the kingdom is thereby tranquillized.
3. 'The disease of men is this:-- that they neglect their own fields,
and go to weed the fields of others, and that what they require from others
is great, while what they lay upon themselves is light.'
The perfect virtue of the highest sages, and how others follow after
1. Mencius said, 'Yâo and Shun were what they were by nature;
T'ang and Wû were so by returning to natural virtue.
2. 'When all the movements, in the countenance and every turn of the
body, are exactly what is proper, that shows the extreme degree of the
complete virtue. Weeping for the dead should be from real sorrow, and not
because of the living. The regular path of virtue is to be pursued without
any bend, and from no view to emolument. The words should all be
necessarily sincere, not with any desire to do what is right.
3. 'The superior man performs the law of right, and thereby waits simply
for what has been appointed.'
He who undertakes to counsel the great, should be morally above them.
1. Mencius said, 'Those who give counsel to the great should
despise them, and not look at their pomp and display.
2. 'Halls several times eight cubits high, with beams projecting several
cubits;-- these, if my wishes were to be realized, I would not have. Food
spread before me over ten cubits square, and attendants and concubines to
the amount of hundreds;-- these, though my wishes were realized, I would
not have. Pleasure and wine, and the dash of hunting, with thousands of
chariots following after me;-- these, though my wishes were realized, I
would not have. What they esteem are what I would have nothing to do with;
what I esteem are the rules of the ancients.-- Why should I stand in awe of
The regulation of the desires is essential to the nourishment of the
Mencius said, 'To nourish the mind there is nothing better than to make
the desires few. Here is a man whose desires are few:-- in some things he
may not be able to keep his heart, but they will be few. Here is a man
whose desires are many:-- in some things he may be able to keep his heart,
but they will be few.'
The filial feeling of Tsang-tsze seen in his not eating jujubes.
1. Mencius said, 'Tsang Hsî was fond of sheep-dates, and his son,
the philosopher Tsang, could not bear to eat sheep-dates.'
2. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked, saying, 'Which is best,-- minced meat and
broiled meat, or sheep-dates?' Mencius said, 'Mince and broiled meat, to be
sure.' Kung-sun Ch'âu went on, 'Then why did the philosopher Tsang
eat mince and broiled meat, and would not eat sheep-dates?' Mencius
answered, 'For mince and broiled meat there is a common liking, while that
for sheep-dates was peculiar. We avoid the name, but do not avoid the
surname. The surname is common; the name is peculiar.'
To call to the pursuit of the right medium was the object of Confucius
and Mencius. Various characters who fail to pursue this, or are opposed to
1. Wan Chang asked, saying, 'Confucius, when he was in Ch'an, said: "Let
me return. The scholars of my school are ambitious, but hasty. They are for
advancing and seizing their object, but cannot forget their early ways."
Why did Confucius, when he was in Ch'an, think of the ambitious scholars of
2. Mencius replied, 'Confucius not getting men pursuing the true medium,
to whom he might communicate his instructions, determined to take the
ardent and the cautiously-decided. The ardent would advance to seize their
object; the cautiously-decided would keep themselves from certain things.
It is not to be thought that Confucius did not wish to get men pursuing the
true medium, but being unable to assure himself of finding such, he
therefore thought of the next class.'
3. 'I venture to ask what sort of men they were who could be styled "The
4. 'Such,' replied Mencius, 'as Ch'in Chang, Tsang Hsî, and
Mû P'ei, were those whom Confucius styled "ambitious."'
5. 'Why were they styled "ambitious?"'
6. The reply was, 'Their aim led them to talk magniloquently, saying, "The
ancients!" "The ancients!" But their actions, where we fairly compare them
with their words, did not correspond with them.
7. 'When he found also that he could not get such as were thus
ambitious, he wanted to get scholars who would consider anything impure as
beneath them. Those were the cautiously-decided, a class next to the
8. Chang pursued his questioning, 'Confucius said, "They are only your
good careful people of the villages at whom I feel no indignation, when
they pass my door without entering my house. Your good careful people of
the villages are the thieves of virtue." What sort of people were they who
could be styled "Your good careful people of the villages?"'
9. Mencius replied, 'They are those who say, "Why are they so
magniloquent? Their words have not respect to their actions and their
actions have not respect to their words, but they say, "The ancients! The
ancients! Why do they act so peculiarly, and are so cold and distant? Born
in this age, we should be of this age, to be good is all that is needed."
Eunuch-like, flattering their generation;-- such are your good careful men
of the villages.'
10. Wan Chang said, 'Their whole village styles those men good and
careful. In all their conduct they are so. How was it that Confucius
considered them the thieves of virtue?'
11. Mencius replied, 'If you would blame them, you find nothing to
allege. If you would criticise them, you have nothing to criticise. They
agree with the current customs. They consent with an impure age. Their
principles have a semblance of right-heartedness and truth. Their conduct
has a semblance of disinterestedness and purity. All men are pleased with
them, and they think themselves right, so that it is impossible to proceed
with them to the principles of Yâo and Shun. On this account they are
called "The thieves of virtue."
12. 'Confucius said, "I hate a semblance which is not the reality. I
hate the darnel, lest it be confounded with the corn. I hate
glib-tonguedness, lest it be confounded with righteousness. I hate
sharpness of tongue, lest it be confounded with sincerity. I hate the music
of Chang, lest it be confounded with the true music. I hate the reddish
blue, lest it be confounded with vermilion. I hate your good careful men of
the villages, lest they be confounded with the truly virtuous."
13. 'The superior man seeks simply to bring back the unchanging
standard, and, that being correct, the masses are roused to virtue.
When they are so aroused, forthwith perversities and glossed wickedness
On the transmission of the line of doctrine from Yâo to Mencius's
1. Mencius said, 'From Yâo and Shun down to T'ang were 500 years
and more. As to Yu and Kâo Yâo, they saw those earliest sages,
and so knew their doctrines, while T'ang heard their doctrines as
transmitted, and so knew them.
2. 'From T'ang to king Wan were 500 years and more. As to Î Yin,
and Lâi Chû, they saw T'ang and knew his doctrines, while king
Wan heard them as transmitted, and so knew them.
3. 'From king Wan to Confucius were 500 years and more. As to
T'âi-kung Wang and San Î-shang, they saw Wan, and so knew his
doctrines, while Confucius heard them as transmitted, and so knew
4. 'From Confucius downwards until now, there are only 100 years and
somewhat more. The distance in time from the sage is so far from being
remote, and so very near at hand was the sage's residence. In these
circumstances, is there no one to transmit his doctrines? Yea, is there no
one to do so?'
Suggested Further Reading
second book in the Confucian canon, the Meng-tzu, is named after
its author, also known as Meng K'o or Mencius (371-289 B.C.).
Translation by James Legge, 1895. While every care has been
taken to reproduce the text, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or
exactness of the text produced. Please refer the printed version
of the original text for any serious study or research.