1. Mencius said,
'Office is not sought on account of poverty, yet there are times
when one seeks office on that account. Marriage is not entered
into for the sake of being attended to by the wife, yet there
are times when one marries on that account.
2. 'He who takes
office on account of his poverty must decline an honourable
situation and occupy a low one; he must decline riches and
prefer to be poor.
3. 'What office
will be in harmony with this declining an honourable situation
and occupying a low one, this declining riches and preferring to
be poor? Such an one as that of guarding the gates, or beating
the watchman's stick.
4. 'Confucius was
once keeper of stores, and he then said, "My calculations must
be all right. That is all I have to care about." He was once in
charge of the public fields, and he then said, "The oxen and
sheep must be fat and strong, and superior. That is all I have
to care about."
5. 'When one is in
a low situation, to speak of high matters is a crime. When a
scholar stands in a prince's court, and his principles are not
carried into practice, it is a shame to him.'
1. Wan Chang said,
'What is the reason that a scholar does not accept a stated
support from a prince?' Mencius replied, 'He does not presume to
do so. When a prince loses his State, and then accepts a stated
support from another prince, this is in accordance with
propriety. But for a scholar to accept such support from any of
the princes is not in accordance with propriety.'
2. Wan Chang said,
'If the prince send him a present of grain, for instance, does
he accept it?' 'He accepts it,' answered Mencius. 'On what
principle of righteousness does he accept it?' 'Why-- the prince
ought to assist the people in their necessities.'
3. Chang pursued,
'Why is it that the scholar will thus accept the prince's help,
but will not accept his pay?' The answer was, 'He does not
presume to do so.' 'I venture to ask why he does not presume to
do so.' 'Even the keepers of the gates, with their watchmen's
sticks, have their regular offices for which they can take their
support from the prince. He who without a regular office should
receive the pay of the prince must be deemed disrespectful.'
4. Chang asked,
'If the prince sends a scholar a present, he accepts it;-- I do
not know whether this present may be constantly repeated.'
Mencius answered, 'There was the conduct of the duke Mû to
Tsze-sze-- He made frequent inquiries after Tsze-sze's health,
and sent him frequent presents of cooked meat. Tsze-sze was
displeased; and at length, having motioned to the messenger to
go outside the great door, he bowed his head to the ground with
his face to the north, did obeisance twice, and declined the
gift, saying, "From this time forth I shall know that the prince
supports me as a dog or a horse." And so from that time a
servant was no more sent with the presents. When a prince
professes to be pleased with a man of talents and virtue, and
can neither promote him to office, nor support him in the proper
way, can he be said to be pleased with him?
5. Chang said, 'I
venture to ask how the sovereign of a State, when he wishes to
support a superior man, must proceed, that he may be said to do
so in the proper way?' Mencius answered, 'At first, the present
must be offered with the prince's commission, and the scholar,
making obeisance twice with his head bowed to the ground, will
receive it. But after this the storekeeper will continue to send
grain, and the master of the kitchen to send meat, presenting it
as if without the prince's express commission. Tsze-sze
considered that the meat from the prince's caldron, giving him
the annoyance of constantly doing obeisance, was not the way to
support a superior man.
6. 'There was
Yâo's conduct to Shun:-- He caused his nine sons to serve him,
and gave him his two daughters in marriage; he caused the
various officers, oxen and sheep, storehouses and granaries, all
to be prepared to support Shun amid the channelled fields, and
then he raised him to the most exalted situation. From this we
have the expression-- "The honouring of virtue and talents
proper to a king or a duke."'
1. Wan Chang said,
'I venture to ask what principle of righteousness is involved in
a scholar's not going to see the princes?' Mencius replied, 'A
scholar residing in the city is called "a minister of the
market-place and well," and one residing in the country is
called "a minister of the grass and plants." In both cases he is
a common man, and it is the rule of propriety that common men,
who have not presented the introductory present and become
ministers, should not presume to have interviews with the
2. Wan Chang said,
'If a common man is called to perform any service, he goes and
performs it;-- how is it that a scholar, when the prince,
wishing to see him, calls him to his presence, refuses to go?'
Mencius replied, 'It is right to go and perform the service; it
would not be right to go and see the prince.'
3. 'And,' added
Mencius, 'on what account is it that the prince wishes to see
the scholar?' 'Because of his extensive information, or because
of his talents and virtue,' was the reply. 'If because of his
extensive information,' said Mencius, 'such a person is a
teacher, and the sovereign would not call him;-- how much less
may any of the princes do so? If because of his talents and
virtue, then I have not heard of any one wishing to see a person
with those qualities, and calling him to his presence.
4. 'During the
frequent interviews of the duke Mû with Tsze-sze, he one day
said to him, "Anciently, princes of a thousand chariots have yet
been on terms of friendship with scholars;-- what do you think
of such an intercourse?" Tsze-sze was displeased, and said, "The
ancients have said, 'The scholar should be served:' how should
they have merely said that he should be made a friend of?" When
Tsze-sze was thus displeased, did he not say within himself,--
"With regard to our stations, you are sovereign, and I am
subject. How can I presume to be on terms of friendship with my
sovereign! With regard to our virtue, you ought to make me your
master. How can you be on terms of friendship with me?" Thus,
when a ruler of a thousand chariots sought to be on terms of
friendship with a scholar, he could not obtain his wish:-- how
much less could he call him to his presence!
5. 'The duke Ching
of Ch'î, once, when he was hunting, called his forester to him
by a flag. The forester would not come, and the duke was going
to kill him. With reference to this incident, Confucius said,
"The determined officer never forgets that his end may be in a
ditch or a stream; the brave officer never forgets that he may
lose his head." What was it in the forester that Confucius thus
approved? He approved his not going to the duke, when summoned
by the article which was not appropriate to him.'
6. Chang said,
'May I ask with what a forester should be summoned?' Mencius
replied, 'With a skin cap. A common man should be summoned with
a plain banner; a scholar who has taken office, with one having
dragons embroidered on it; and a Great officer, with one having
feathers suspended from the top of the staff.
7. 'When the
forester was summoned with the article appropriate to the
summoning of a Great officer, he would have died rather than
presume to go. If a common man were summoned with the article
appropriate to the summoning of a scholar, how could he presume
to go? How much more may we expect this refusal to go, when a
man of talents and virtue is summoned in a way which is
inappropriate to his character!
8. 'When a prince
wishes to see a man of talents and virtue, and does not take the
proper course to get his wish, it is as if he wished him to
enter his palace, and shut the door against him. Now,
righteousness is the way, and propriety is the door, but it is
only the superior man who can follow this way, and go out and in
by this door. It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"The way to
Châu is level like a whetstone,
And straight as an arrow.
The officers tread it,
And the lower people see it."'
9. Wan Chang said,
'When Confucius received the prince's message calling him, he
went without waiting for his carriage. Doing so, did Confucius
do wrong?' Mencius replied, 'Confucius was in office, and had to
observe its appropriate duties. And moreover, he was summoned on
the business of his office.'
1. Mencius said to
Wan Chang, 'The scholar whose virtue is most distinguished in a
village shall make friends of all the virtuous scholars in the
village. The scholar whose virtue is most distinguished
throughout a State shall make friends of all the virtuous
scholars of that State. The scholar whose virtue is most
distinguished throughout the kingdom shall make friends of all
the virtuous scholars of the kingdom.
2. 'When a scholar
feels that his friendship with all the virtuous scholars of the
kingdom is not sufficient to satisfy him, he proceeds to ascend
to consider the men of antiquity. He repeats their poems, and
reads their books, and as he does not know what they were as
men, to ascertain this, he considers their history. This is to
ascend and make friends of the men of antiquity.'
1. The king Hsüan
of Ch'î asked about the office of high ministers. Mencius said,
'Which high ministers is your Majesty asking about?' 'Are there
differences among them?' inquired the king. 'There are' was the
reply. 'There are the high ministers who are noble and relatives
of the prince, and there are those who are of a different
surname.' The king said, 'I beg to ask about the high ministers
who are noble and relatives of the prince.' Mencius answered,
'If the prince have great faults, they ought to remonstrate with
him, and if he do not listen to them after they have done so
again and again, they ought to dethrone him.'
2. The king on
this looked moved, and changed countenance.
3. Mencius said,
'Let not your Majesty be offended. You asked me, and I dare not
answer but according to truth.'
4. The king's
countenance became composed, and he then begged to ask about
high ministers who were of a different surname from the prince.
Mencius said, 'When the prince has faults, they ought to
remonstrate with him; and if he do not listen to them after they
have done this again and again, they ought to leave the State.'