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
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
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
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 known.'
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
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?'
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
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.
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 nothing."
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 fathers.
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 me."
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
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 sages.'
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
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
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.'