1. Mencius went to
see king Hûi of Liang.
2. The king said,
'Venerable sir, since you have not counted it far to come here,
a distance of a thousand lî, may I presume that you are provided
with counsels to profit my kingdom?'
replied, 'Why must your Majesty use that word "profit?" What I
am provided with, are counsels to benevolence and righteousness,
and these are my only topics.
4. 'If your
Majesty say, "What is to be done to profit my kingdom?" the
great officers will say, "What is to be done to profit our
families?" and the inferior officers and the common people will
say, "What is to be done to profit our persons?" Superiors and
inferiors will try to snatch this profit the one from the other,
and the kingdom will be endangered. In the kingdom of ten
thousand chariots, the murderer of his sovereign shall be the
chief of a family of a thousand chariots. In the kingdom of a
thousand chariots, the murderer of his prince shall be the chief
of a family of a hundred chariots. To have a thousand in ten
thousand, and a hundred in a thousand, cannot be said not to be
a large allotment, but if righteousness be put last, and profit
be put first, they will not be satisfied without snatching all.
5. 'There never
has been a benevolent man who neglected his parents. There never
has been a righteous man who made his sovereign an after
6. 'Let your
Majesty also say, "Benevolence and righteousness, and let these
be your only themes." Why must you use that word -- "profit?".
another day, saw King Hûi of Liang. The king went and stood with
him by a pond, and, looking round at the large geese and deer,
said, 'Do wise and good princes also find pleasure in these
replied, 'Being wise and good, they have pleasure in these
things. If they are not wise and good, though they have these
things, they do not find pleasure.
3. 'It is said in
the Book of Poetry,
out and commenced his marvellous tower;
He measured it out and planned it.
The people addressed themselves to it,
And in less than a day completed it.
When he measured and began it, he said to them --
Be not so earnest:
But the multitudes came as if they had been his children.
The king was in his marvellous park;
The does reposed about,
The does so sleek and fat:
And the white birds came glistening.
The king was by his marvellous pond;
How full was it of fishes leaping about!"
'King Wan used the
strength of the people to make his tower and his pond, and yet
the people rejoiced to do the work, calling the tower "the
marvellous tower," calling the pond "the marvellous pond," and
rejoicing that he had his large deer, his fishes, and turtles.
The ancients caused the people to have pleasure as well as
themselves, and therefore they could enjoy it.
4. 'In the
Declaration of T'ang it is said, "O sun, when wilt thou expire?
We will die together with thee." The people wished for Chieh's
death, though they should die with him. Although he had towers,
ponds, birds, and animals, how could he have pleasure alone?'
1. King Hûi of
Liang said, 'Small as my virtue is, in the government of my
kingdom, I do indeed exert my mind to the utmost. If the year be
bad on the inside of the river, I remove as many of the people
as I can to the east of the river, and convey grain to the
country in the inside. When the year is bad on the east of the
river, I act on the same plan. On examining the government of
the neighboring kingdoms, I do not find that there is any prince
who exerts his mind as I do. And yet the people of the
neighboring kingdoms do not decrease, nor do my people increase.
How is this?'
replied, 'Your majesty is fond of war; -- let me take an
illustration from war. -- The soldiers move forward to the sound
of the drums; and after their weapons have been crossed, on one
side they throw away their coats of mail, trail their arms
behind them, and run. Some run a hundred paces and stop; some
run fifty paces and stop. What would you think if those who run
fifty paces were to laugh at those who run a hundred paces?' The
kind said, 'They should not do so. Though they did not run a
hundred paces, yet they also ran away.' 'Since your Majesty
knows this,' replied Mencius, 'you need not hope that your
people will become more numerous than those of the neighboring
3. 'If the seasons
of husbandry be not interfered with, the grain will be more than
can be eaten. If close nets are not allowed to enter the pools
and ponds, the fishes and turtles will be more than can be
consumed. If the axes and bills enter the hills and forests only
at the proper time, the wood will be more than can be used. When
the grain and fish and turtles are more than can be eaten, and
there is more wood than can be used, this enables the people to
nourish their living and mourn for their dead, without any
feeling against any. This condition, in which the people nourish
their living and bury their dead without any feeling against
any, is the first step of royal government.
4. 'Let mulberry
trees be planted about the homesteads with their five mâu, and
persons of fifty years may be clothed with silk. In keeping
fowls, pigs, dogs, and swine, let not their times of breeding be
neglected, and persons of seventy years may eat flesh. Let there
not be taken away the time that is proper for the cultivation of
the farm with its hundred mâ, and the family of several mouths
that is supported by it shall not suffer from hunger. Let
careful attention be paid to education in schools, inculcating
in it especially the filial and fraternal duties, and
grey-haired men will not be seen upon the roads, carrying
burdens on their backs or on their heads. It never has been that
the ruler of a State, where such results were seen, -- persons
of seventy wearing silk and eating flesh, and the black-haired
people suffering neither from hunder nor cold, -- did not attain
to the royal dignity.
5. 'Your dogs and
swine eat the food of men, and you do not make any restrictive
arrangements. There are people dying from famine on the roads,
and you do not issue the stores of your granaries for them. When
people die, you say, "It is not owing to me; it is owing to the
year." In what does this differ from stabbing a man and killing
him, and then saying -- "It was not I; it was the weapon?" Let
your Majesty cease to lay the blame on the year, and instantly
from all the nation the people will come to you.'
1. King Hûi of
Liang said, 'I wish quietly to receive your instructions.'
replied, 'Is there any difference between killing a man with a
stick and with a sword ?' The king said, 'There is no
3. 'Is there any
difference between doing it with a sword and with the style of
government? 'There is no difference,' was the reply.
4. Mencius then
said, 'In your kitchen there is fat meat; in your stables there
are fat horses. But your 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.
5. 'Beasts devour
one another, and men hate them for doing so. When a prince,
being the parent of his people, administers his government so as
to be chargeable with leading on beasts to devour men, where is
his parental relation to the people?'
6. Chung-nî said,
'Was he not without posterity who first made wooden images to
bury with the dead? So he said, because that man made the
semblances of men, and used them for that purpose:-- what shall
be thought of him who causes his people to die of hunger?'
1. King Hûi of
Liang said, 'There was not in the nation a stronger State than
Tsin, as you, venerable Sir, know. But since it descended to me,
on the east we have been defeated by Ch'i, and then my eldest
son perished; on the west we have lost seven hundred lî of
territory to Ch'in; and on the south we have sustained disgrace
at the hands of Ch'û. I have brought shame on my departed
predecessors, and wish on their account to wipe it away, once
for all. What course is to be pursued to accomplish this?'
replied, 'With a territory which is only a hundred lî square, it
is possible to attain to the royal dignity.
3. 'If Your
Majesty will indeed dispense a benevolent government to the
people, being sparing in the use of punishments and fines, and
making the taxes and levies light, so causing that the fields
shall be ploughed deep, and the weeding of them be carefully
attended to, and that the strong-bodied, during their days of
leisure, shall cultivate their filial piety, fraternal
respectfulness, sincerity, and truthfulness, serving thereby, at
home, their fathers and elder brothers, and, abroad, their
elders and superiors,-- you will then have a people who can be
employed, with sticks which they have prepared, to oppose the
strong mail and sharp weapons of the troops of Ch'in and Ch'û.
4. 'The rulers of
those States rob their people of their time, so that they cannot
plough and weed their fields, in order to support their parents.
Their parents suffer from cold and hunger. Brothers, wives, and
children are separated and scattered abroad.
5. 'Those rulers,
as it were, drive their people into pit-falls, or drown them.
Your Majesty will go to punish them. In such a case, who will
oppose your Majesty?
6. 'In accordance
with this is the saying,-- "The benevolent has no enemy." I beg
your Majesty not to doubt what I say.'