Mencius : Chapter 4 |
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 him away.
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 people.'
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.'
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?'
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.'
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
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.'
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
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, blame them.
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.'
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.
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 business.'
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
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 quit it."
3. 'I ask you, prince, to make your election between these two courses.'
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?'
Mencius : Chapter 4