Mencius : Chapter 9 |
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."'
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
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.
1. The duke Wan of T'ang asked Mencius about the proper way of governing a
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 limits.
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
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
8. 'As to the system of hereditary salaries, that is already observed in T'ang.
9. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"May the rain come down on our public field, And then upon our private
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
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 sovereign.
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 kingdom.'
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
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
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 : Chapter 9