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
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
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.
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.'
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 Poetry,
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,"--
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,
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.'