'When it appears proper to take a thing, and afterwards not
proper, to take it is contrary to moderation. When it appears
proper to give a thing and afterwards not proper, to give it is
contrary to kindness. When it appears proper to sacrifice one's
life, and afterwards not proper, to sacrifice it is contrary to
1. P'ang Mang
learned archery of Î. When he had acquired completely all the
science of Î, he thought that in all the kingdom only Î was
superior to himself, and so he slew him. Mencius said, 'In this
case Î also was to blame. Kung-ming Î indeed said, "It would
appear as if he were not to be blamed," but he thereby only
meant that his blame was slight. How can he be held without any
2. 'The people of
Chang sent Tsze-cho Yü to make a stealthy attack on Wei, which
sent Yü-kung Sze to pursue him. Tsze-cho Yü said, "To-day I feel
unwell, so that I cannot hold my bow. I am a dead man!" At the
same time he asked his driver, "Who is it that is pursuing me?"
The driver said, "It is Yü-kung Sze," on which, he exclaimed, "I
shall live." The driver said, "Yü-kung Sze is the best archer of
Wei, what do you mean by saying 'I shall live?'" Yü replied, "Yü-kung
Sze learned archery from Yin-kung T'o, who again learned it from
me. Now, Yin-kung T'o is an upright man, and the friends of his
selection must be upright also." When Yü-kung Sze came up, he
said, "Master, why are you not holding your bow?" Yü answered
him, "To-day I am feeling unwell, and cannot hold my bow." On
this Sze said, "I learned archery from Yin-kung T'o, who again
learned it from you. I cannot bear to injure you with your own
science. The business of to-day, however, is the prince's
business, which I dare not neglect." He then took his arrows,
knocked off their steel points against the carriage-wheel,
discharged four of them, and returned.
1. Mencius said,
'If the lady Hsî had been covered with a filthy head-dress, all
people would have stopped their noses in passing her.
2. 'Though a man
may be wicked, yet if he adjust his thoughts, fast, and bathe,
he may sacrifice to God.'
1. Mencius said,
'All who speak about the natures of things, have in fact only
their phenomena to reason from, and the value of a phenomenon is
in its being natural.
2. 'What I dislike
in your wise men is their boring out their conclusions. If those
wise men would only act as Yü did when he conveyed away the
waters, there would be nothing to dislike in their wisdom. The
manner in which Yü conveyed away the waters was by doing what
gave him no trouble. If your wise men would also do that which
gave them no trouble, their knowledge would also be great.
3. 'There is
heaven so high; there are the stars so distant. If we have
investigated their phenomena, we may, while sitting in our
places, go back to the solstice of a thousand years ago.'
1. The officer
Kung-hang having on hand the funeral of one of his sons, the
Master of the Right went to condole with him. When this noble
entered the door, some called him to them and spoke with him,
and some went to his place and spoke with him.
2. Mencius did not
speak with him, so that he was displeased, and said, 'All the
gentlemen have spoken with me. There is only Mencius who does
not speak to me, thereby slighting me.'
3. Mencius having
heard of this remark, said, 'According to the prescribed rules,
in the court, individuals may not change their places to speak
with one another, nor may they pass from their ranks to bow to
one another. I was wishing to observe this rule, and Tsze-âo
understands it that I was slighting him:-- is not this strange?'
1. Mencius said,
'That whereby the superior man is distinguished from other men
is what he preserves in his heart;-- namely, benevolence and
2. 'The benevolent
man loves others. The man of propriety shows respect to others.
3. 'He who loves
others is constantly loved by them. He who respects others is
constantly respected by them.
4. 'Here is a man,
who treats me in a perverse and unreasonable manner. The
superior man in such a case will turn round upon himself-- "I
must have been wanting in benevolence; I must have been wanting
in propriety;-- how should this have happened to me?"
5. He examines
himself, and is specially benevolent. He turns round upon
himself, and is specially observant of propriety. The perversity
and unreasonableness of the other, however, are still the same.
The superior man will again turn round on himself-- "I must have
been failing to do my utmost."
6. 'He turns round
upon himself, and proceeds to do his utmost, but still the
perversity and unreasonableness of the other are repeated. On
this the superior man says, "This is a man utterly lost indeed!
Since he conducts himself so, what is there to choose between
him and a brute? Why should I go to contend with a brute?"
7. 'Thus it is
that the superior man has a life-long anxiety and not one
morning's calamity. As to what is matter of anxiety to him, that
indeed be has.-- He says, "Shun was a man, and I also am a man.
But Shun became an example to all the kingdom, and his conduct
was worthy to be handed down to after ages, while I am nothing
better than a villager." This indeed is the proper matter of
anxiety to him. And in what way is he anxious about it? Just
that he maybe like Shun:-- then only will he stop. As to what
the superior man would feel to be a calamity, there is no such
thing. He does nothing which is not according to propriety. If
there should befall him one morning's calamity, the superior man
does not account it a calamity.'
1. Yü and Chî, in
an age when the world was being brought back to order, thrice
passed their doors without entering them. Confucius praised
2. The disciple
Yen, in an age of disorder, dwelt in a mean narrow lane, having
his single bamboo-cup of rice, and his single gourd-dish of
water; other men could not have endured the distress, but he did
not allow his joy to be affected by it. Confucius praised him.
3. Mencius said, 'Yü,
Chî, and Yen Hûi agreed in the principle of their conduct.
4. 'Yü thought
that if any one in the kingdom were drowned, it was as if he
drowned him. Chî thought that if any one in the kingdom suffered
hunger, it was as if he famished him. It was on this account
that they were so earnest.
5. If Yü and Chî,
and Yen-tsze, had exchanged places, each would have done what
the other did.
6. 'Here now in
the same apartment with you are people fighting:-- you ought to
part them. Though you part them with your cap simply tied over
your unbound hair, your conduct will be allowable.
7. 'If the
fighting be only in the village or neighbourhood, if you go to
put an end to it with your cap tied over your hair unbound, you
will be in error. Although you should shut your door in such a
case, your conduct would be allowable.'
1. The disciple
Kung-tû said, 'Throughout the whole kingdom everybody pronounces
K'wang Chang unfilial. But you, Master, keep company with him,
and moreover treat him with politeness. I venture to ask why you
replied, 'There are five things which are pronounced in the
common usage of the age to be unfilial. The first is laziness in
the use of one's four limbs, without attending to the
nourishment of his parents. The second is gambling and chess-playiDg,
and being fond of wine, without attending to the nourishment of
his parents. The third is being fond of goods and money, and
selfishly attached to his wife and children, without attending
to the nourishment of his parents. The fourth is following the
desires of one's ears and eyes, so as to bring his parents to
disgrace. The fifth is being fond of bravery, fighting and
quarrelling so as to endanger his parents. Is Chang guilty of
any one of these things?
3. 'Now between
Chang and his father there arose disagreement, he, the son,
reproving his father, to urge him to what was good.
4. 'To urge one
another to what is good by reproofs is the way of friends. But
such urging between father and son is the greatest injury to the
kindness, which should prevail between them.
5. 'Moreover, did
not Chang wish to have in his family the relationships of
husband and wife, child and mother? But because he had offended
his father, and was not permitted to approach him, he sent away
his wife, and drove forth his son, and all his life receives no
cherishing attention from them. He settled it in his mind that
if he did not act in this way, his would be one of the greatest
of crimes.-- Such and nothing more is the case of Chang.'
1. When the
philosopher Tsang dwelt in Wû-ch'ang, there came a band from
Yüeh to plunder it. Someone said to him, 'The plunderers are
coming:-- why not leave this?' Tsang on this left the city,
saying to the man in charge of the house, 'Do not lodge any
persons in my house, lest they break and injure the plants and
trees.' When the plunderers withdrew, he sent word to him,
saying, 'Repair the walls of my house. I am about to return.'
When the plunderers retired, the philosopher Tsang returned
accordingly. His disciples said, 'Since our master was treated
with so much sincerity and respect, for him to be the first to
go away on the arrival of the plunderers, so as to be observed
by the people, and then to return on their retiring, appears to
us to be improper.' Ch'an-yû Hsing said, 'You do not understand
this matter. Formerly, when Ch'an-yû was exposed to the outbreak
of the grass-carriers, there were seventy disciples in our
master's following, and none of them took part in the matter.'
2. When Tsze-sze
was living in Wei, there came a band from Ch'î to plunder. Some
one said to him, 'The plunderers are coming;-- why not leave
this?' Tsze-sze said, 'If I go away, whom will the prince have
to guard the State with?'
3. Mencius said,
'The philosophers Tsang and Tsze-sze agreed in the principle of
their conduct. Tsang was a teacher;-- in the place of a father
or elder brother. Tsze-sze was a minister;-- in a meaner place.
If the philosophers Tsang and Tsze-sze had exchanged places the
one would have done what the other did.'
1. A man of Ch'î
had a wife and a concubine, and lived together with them in his
house. When their husband went out, he would get himself well
filled with wine and flesh, and then return, and, on his wife's
asking him with whom he ate and drank, they were sure to be all
wealthy and honourable people. The wife informed the concubine,
saying, 'When our good man goes out, he is sure to come back
having partaken plentifully of wine and flesh. I asked with whom
he ate and drank, and they are all, it seems, wealthy and
honourable people. And yet no people of distinction ever come
here. I will spy out where our good man goes.' Accordingly, she
got up early in the morning, and privately followed wherever her
husband went. Throughout the whole city, there was no one who
stood or talked with him. At last, he came to those who were
sacrificing among the tombs beyond the outer wall on the east,
and begged what they had over. Not being satisfied, he looked
about, and went to another party;-- and this was the way in
which he got himself satiated. His wife returned, and informed
the concubine, saying, 'It was to our husband that we looked up
in hopeful contemplation, with whom our lot is cast for life;--
and now these are his ways!' On this, along with the concubine
she reviled their husband, and they wept together in the middle
hall. In the meantime the husband, knowing nothing of all this,
came in with a jaunty air, carrying himself proudly to his wife
2. In the view of
a superior man, as to the ways by which men seek for riches,
honours, gain, and advancement, there are few of their wives and
concubines who would not be ashamed and weep together on account