Mencius : Chapter 17 |
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 desire.'
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 Poetry,
"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 inform them!
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 there?'
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 him?'
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.
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 two sovereigns.'
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
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 Way,"--
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.'
Mencius : Chapter 17