1. Mencius said,
'The five chiefs of the princes were sinners against the three
kings. The princes of the present day are sinners against the
five chiefs. The Great officers of the present day are sinners
against the princes.
2. 'The sovereign
visited the princes, which was called "A tour of Inspection."
The princes attended at the court of the sovereign, which was
called "Giving a report of office." It was a custom in the
spring to examine the ploughing, and supply any deficiency of
seed; and in autumn to examine the reaping, and assist where
there was a deficiency of the crop. When the sovereign entered
the boundaries of a State, if the new ground was being
reclaimed, and the old fields well cultivated; if the old were
nourished and the worthy honoured; and if men of distinguished
talents were placed in office: then the prince was rewarded,--
rewarded with an addition to his territory. On the other hand,
if, on entering a State, the ground was found left wild or
overrun with weeds; if the old were neglected and the worthy
unhonoured; and if the offices were filled with hard
taxgatherers: then the prince was reprimanded. If a prince once
omitted his attendance at court, he was punished by degradation
of rank; if he did so a second time, be was deprived of a
portion of his territory; if he did so a third time, the royal
forces were set in motion, and he was removed from his
government. Thus the sovereign commanded the punishment, but did
not himself inflict it, while the princes inflicted the
punishment, but did not command it. The five chiefs, however,
dragged the princes to punish other princes, and hence I say
that they were sinners against the three kings.
3. 'Of the five
chiefs the most powerful was the duke Hwan. At the assembly of
the princes in K'wei-ch'iû, he bound the victim and placed the
writing upon it, but did not slay it to smear their mouths with
the blood. The first injunction in their agreement was,-- "Slay
the unfilial; change not the son who has been appointed heir;
exalt not a concubine to be the wife." The second was,-- "Honour
the worthy, and maintain the talented, to give distinction to
the virtuous." The third was,-- "Respect the old, and be kind to
the young. Be not forgetful of strangers and travellers." The
fourth was, "Let not offices be hereditary, nor let officers be
pluralists. In the selection of officers let the object be to
get the proper men. Let not a ruler take it on himself to put to
death a Great officer." The fifth was,-- "Follow no crooked
policy in making embankments. Impose no restrictions on the sale
of grain. Let there be no promotions without first announcing
them to the sovereign." It was then said, "All we who have
united in this agreement shall hereafter maintain amicable
relations." The princes of the present day all violate these
five prohibitions, and therefore I say that the princes of the
present day are sinners against the five chiefs.
4. 'The crime of
him who connives at, and aids, the wickedness of his prince is
small, but the crime of him who anticipates and excites that
wickedness is great. The officers of the present day all go to
meet their sovereigns' wickedness, and therefore I say that the
Great officers of the present day are sinners against the
1. The prince of
Lû wanted to make the minister Shan commander of his army.
2. Mencius said,
'To employ an uninstructed people in war may be said to be
destroying the people. A destroyer of the people would not have
been tolerated in the times of Yâo and Shun.
3. 'Though by a
single battle you should subdue Ch'î, and get possession of
Nan-yang, the thing ought not to be done.'
4. Shan changed
countenance, and said in displeasure, 'This is what I, Kû-Lî, do
5. Mencius said,
'I will lay the case plainly before you. The territory
appropriated to the sovereign is 1,000 lî square. Without a
thousand lî, he would not have sufficient for his entertainment
of the princes. The territory appropriated to a Hâu is 100 lî
square. Without 100 lî, he would not have sufficient wherewith
to observe the statutes kept in his ancestral temple.
6. 'When Châu-kung
was invested with the principalily of Lû, it was a hundred lî
square. The territory was indeed enough, but it was not more
than 100 lî. When T'âi-kung was invested with the principality
of Ch'î, it was 100 lî square. The territory was indeed enough,
but it was not more than 100 lî.
7. 'Now Lû is five
times 100 lî square. If a true royal ruler were to arise,
whether do you think that Lû would be diminished or increased by
8. 'If it were
merely taking the place from the one State to give it to the
other, a benevolent man would not do it;-- how much less will he
do so, when the end is to be sought by the slaughter of men!
9. 'The way in
which a superior man serves his prince contemplates simply the
leading him in the right path, and directing his mind to
1. Mencius said,
'Those who now-a-days serve their sovereigns say, "We can for
our sovereign enlarge the limits of the cultivated ground, and
fill his treasuries and arsenals." Such persons are now-a-days
called "Good ministers," but anciently they were called "Robbers
of the people." If a sovereign follows not the right way, nor
has his mind bent on benevolence, to seek to enrich him is to
enrich a Chieh.
2. 'Or they will
say, "We can for our sovereign form alliances with other States,
so that our battles must be successful." Such persons are
now-a-days called "Good ministers," but anciently they were
called "Robbers of the people." If a sovereign follows not the
right way, nor has his mind directed to benevolence, to seek to
enrich him is to enrich a Chieh.
3. 'Although a
prince, pursuing the path of the present day, and not changing
its practices, were to have the throne given to him, he could
not retain it for a single morning.'
1. Pâi Kwei said,
'I want to take a twentieth of the produce only as the tax. What
do you think of it?'
2. Mencius said,
'Your way would be that of the Mo.
3. 'In a country
of ten thousand families, would it do to have only one potter?'
Kwei replied, 'No. The vessels would not be enough to use.'
4. Mencius went
on, 'In Mo all the five kinds of grain are not grown; it only
produces the millet. There are no fortified cities, no edifices,
no ancestral temples, no ceremonies of sacrifice; there are no
princes requiring presents and entertainments; there is no
system of officers with their various subordinates. On these
accounts a tax of one-twentieth of the produce is sufficient
5. 'But now it is
the Middle Kingdom that we live in. To banish the relationships
of men, and have no superior men;-- how can such a state of
things be thought of?
6. 'With but few
potters a kingdom cannot subsist;-- how much less can it subsist
without men of a higher rank than others?
7. 'If we wish to
make the taxation lighter than the system of Yâo and Shun, we
shall just have a great Mo and a small Mo. If we wish to make it
heavier, we shall just have the great Chieh and the small Chieh.'
1. Pâi Kwei said,
'My management of the waters is superior to that of Yü.'
replied, 'You are wrong, Sir. Yü's regulation of the waters was
according to the laws of water.
3. 'He therefore
made the four seas their receptacle, while you make the
neighbouring States their receptacle.
4. 'Water flowing
out of its channels is called an inundation. Inundating waters
are a vast waste of water, and what a benevolent man detests.
You are wrong, my good Sir.'
Mencius said, 'If
a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a firm hold of
1. The prince of
Lû wanting to commit the administration of his government to the
disciple Yo-chang, Mencius said, 'When I heard of it, I was so
glad that I could not sleep.'
2. Kung-sun Ch'âu
asked, 'Is Yo-chang a man of vigour?' and was answered, 'No.'
'Is he wise in council?' 'No.' 'Is he possessed of much
3. 'What then made
you so glad that you could not sleep?'
4. 'He is a man
who loves what is good.'
5. 'Is the love of
what is good sufficient?'
6. 'The love of
what is good is more than a sufficient qualification for the
government of the kingdom;-- how much more is it so for the
State of Lû!
7. 'If a minister
love what is good, all within the four seas will count 1000 lî
but a small distance, and will come and lay their good thoughts
8. If he do not
love what is good, men will say, "How self-conceited he looks?
He is sayinq to himself, I know it." The language and looks of
that self-conceit will keep men off at a distance of 1,000 lî.
When good men stop 1,000 lî off, calumniators, flatterers, and
sycophants will make their appearance. When a minister lives
among calumniators, flatterers, and sycophants, though he may
wish the State to be well governed, is it possible for it to be
2. 'If received
with the utmost respect and all polite observances, and they
could say to themselves that the prince would carry their words
into practice, then they took office with him. Afterwards,
although there might be no remission in the polite demeanour of
the prince, if their words were not carried into practice, they
would leave him.
3. 'The second
case was that in which, though the prince could not be expected
at once to carry their words into practice, yet being received
by him with the utmost respect, they took office with him. But
afterwards, if there was a remission in his polite demeanour,
they would leave him.
4. 'The last case
was that of the superior man who had nothing to eat, either
morning or evening, and was so famished that he could not move
out of his door. If the prince, on hearing of his state, said,
"I must fail in the great point,-- that of carrying his
doctrines into practice, neither am I able to follow his words,
but I am ashamed to allow him to die of want in my country;" the
assistance offered in such a case might be received, but not
beyond what was sufficient to avert death.'
1. Mencius said,
'Shun rose from among the channelled fields. Fû Yüeh was called
to office from the midst of his building frames; Chiâo-ko from
his fish and salt; Kwan Î-wû from the hands of his gaoler; Sun-shû
Âo from his hiding by the sea-shore; and Pâi-lî Hsî from the
2. 'Thus, when
Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first
exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with
toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme
poverty. It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it
stimulates his mind, hardens his nature, and supplies his
3. 'Men for the
most part err, and are afterwards able to reform. They are
distressed in mind and perplexed in their thoughts, and then
they arise to vigorous reformation. When things have been
evidenced in men's looks, and set forth in their words, then
they understand them.
4. 'If a prince
have not about his court families attached to the laws and
worthy counsellors, and if abroad there are not hostile States
or other external calamities, his kingdom will generally come to
5. 'From these
things we see how life springs from sorrow and calamity, and
death from ease and pleasure.'