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Mencius : Chapter 9


1. When the prince, afterwards duke Wan of T'ang, had to go to Ch', 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 Yo and Shun.


3. When the prince was returning from Ch', 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', "They were men. I am a man. Why should I stand in awe of them?" Yen Yan 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 said, "King Wan is my teacher. How should the duke of Chu deceive me by those words?"


5. 'Now, T'ang, taking its length with its breadth, will amount, I suppose, to fifty l. 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 Y, '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 Y accordingly proceeded to Tsu, 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 Y 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 L, 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 Y, '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 Y went again to Tsu, 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 Y 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 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 limits.


5. 'Yang H 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 Hsi dynasty enacted the fifty mu allotment, and the payment of a tax. The founder of the Yin enacted the seventy mu allotment, and the system of mutual aid. The founder of the Chu enacted the hundred mu 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 people?"


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 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 Chu dynasty this system has been recognised.


10. 'Establish hsiang, hs, hsio, and hsio,-- all those educational institutions,-- for the instruction of the people. The name hsiang indicates nourishing as its object; hsio, indicates teaching; and hs indicates archery. By the Hsi dynasty the name hsio was used; by the Yin, that of hs; and by the Chu, 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 Chu. 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 P 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 mu.


17. 'Let the supernumerary males have their twenty-five mu.


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 l covers nine squares of land, which nine squares contain nine hundred mu. The central square is the public field, and eight families, each having its private hundred mu, 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

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