1. Mencius, having
an interview with the king Hsüan of Ch'î, said to him, 'When men
speak of "an ancient kingdom," it is not meant thereby that it
has lofty trees in it, but that it has ministers sprung from
families which have been noted in it for generations. Your
Majesty has no intimate ministers even. Those whom you advanced
yesterday are gone to-day, and you do not know it.'
2. The king said,
'How shall I know that they have not ability, and so avoid
employing them at all?'
3. The reply was,
'The ruler of a State advances to office men of talents and
virtue only as a matter of necessity. Since he will thereby
cause the low to overstep the honourable, and distant to
overstep his near relatives, ought he to do so but with caution?
4. 'When all those
about you say,-- "This is a man of talents and worth," you may
not therefore believe it. When your great officers all say,--
"This is a man of talents and virtue," neither may you for that
believe it. When all the people say,-- "This is a man of talents
and virtue," then examine into the case, and when you find that
the man is such, employ him. When all those about you say,--
"This man won't do," don't listen to them. When all your great
officers say,-- "This man won't do," don't listen to them. When
the people all sav,-- "This man won't do," then examine into the
case, and when you find that the man won't do, send him away.
5. 'When all those
about you say,-- "This man deserves death," don't listen to
them. When all your great officers say,-- "This man deserves
death," don't listen to them. When the people all say,"This man
deserves death," then inquire into the case, and when you see
that the man deserves death, put him to death. In accordance
with this we have the saying, "The people killed him."
6. 'You must act
in this way in order to be the parent of the people.'
1. The king Hsüan
of Ch'î asked, saying, 'Was it so, that T'ang banished Chieh,
and that king Wû smote Châu?' Mencius replied, 'It is so in the
2. The king said,
'May a minister then put his sovereign to death?'
3. Mencius said,
'He who outrages the benevolence proper to his nature, is called
a robber; he who outrages righteousness, is called a ruffian.
The robber and ruffian we call a mere fellow. I have heard of
the cutting off of the fellow Châu, but I have not heard of the
putting a sovereign to death, in his case.'
1. Mencius, having
an interview with the king Hsüan of Ch'î, said to him, 'If you
are going to build a large mansion, you will surely cause the
Master of the workmen to look out for large trees, and when he
has found such large trees, you will be glad, thinking that they
will answer for the intended object. Should the workmen hew them
so as to make them too small, then your Majesty will be angry,
thinking that they will not answer for the purpose. Now, a man
spends his youth in learning the principles of right government,
and, being grown up to vigour, he wishes to put them in
practice;-- if your Majesty says to him, "For the present put
aside what you have learned, and follow me," what shall we say?
2. 'Here now you
have a gem unwrought, in the stone. Although it may be worth
240,000 taels, you will surely employ a lapidary to cut and
polish it. But when you come to the government of the State,
then you say,-- "For the present put aside what you have
learned, and follow me." How is it that you herein act so
differently from your conduct in calling in the lapidary to cut
1. The people of
Ch'î attacked Yen, and conquered it.
2. The king Hsüan
asked, saying, 'Some tell me not to take possession of it for
myself, and some tell me to take possession of it. For a kingdom
of ten thousand chariots, attacking another of ten thousand
chariots, to complete the conquest of it in fifty days, is an
achievement beyond mere human strength. If I do not take
possession of it, calamities from Heaven will surely come upon
me. What do you say to my taking possession of it?'
replied, 'If the people of Yen will be pleased with your taking
possession of it, then do so.-- Among the ancients there was one
who acted on this principle, namely king Wû. If the people of
Yen will not be pleased with your taking possession of it, then
do not do so.-- Among the ancients there was one who acted on
this principle, namely king Wan.
4. 'When, with all
the strength of your country of ten thousand chariots, you
attacked another country of ten thousand chariots, and the
people brought baskets of rice and vessels of congee, to meet
your Majesty's host, was there any other reason for this but
that they hoped to escape out of fire and water ? If you make
the water more deep and the fire more fierce, they will in like
manner make another revolution.'
1. The people of
Ch'î, having smitten Yen, took possession of it, and upon this,
the princes of the various States deliberated together, and
resolved to deliver Yen from their power. The king Hsüan said to
Mencius, 'The princes have formed many plans to attack me:-- how
shall I prepare myself for them?' Mencius replied, 'I have heard
of one who with seventy lî exercised all the functions of
government throughout the kingdom. That was T'ang. I have never
heard of a prince with a thousand lî standing in fear of
2. 'It is said in
the Book of History, As soon as T'ang began his work of
executing justice, he commenced with Ko. The whole kingdom had
confidence in him. When he pursued his work in the east, the
rude tribes on the west murmured. So did those on the north,
when he was engaged in the south. Their cry was-- "Why does he
put us last?" Thus, the people looked to him, as we look in a
time of great drought to the clouds and rainbows. The
frequenters of the markets stopped not. The husbandmen made no
change in their operations. While he punished their rulers, he
consoled the people. His progress was like the falling of
opportune rain, and the people were delighted. It is said again
in the Book of History, "We have waited for our prince long; the
prince's coming will be our reviving!"
3. 'Now the ruler
of Yen was tyrannizing over his people, and your Majesty went
and punished him. The people supposed that you were going to
deliver them out of the water and the fire, and brought baskets
of rice and vessels of congee, to meet your Majesty's host. But
you have slain their fathers and elder brothers, and put their
sons and younger brothers in confinement. You have pulled down
the ancestral temple of the State, and are removing to Ch'î its
precious vessels. How can such a course be deemed proper? The
rest of the kingdom is indeed jealously afraid of the strength
of Ch'î; and now, when with a doubled territory you do not put
in practice a benevolent government;-- it is this which sets the
arms of the kingdom in in motion.
4. 'If your
Majesty will make haste to issue an ordinance, restoring your
captives, old and young, stopping the removal of the precious
vessels, and saying that, after consulting with the people of
Yen, you will appoint them a ruler, and withdraw from the
country;-- in this way you may still be able to stop the
1. There had been
a brush between Tsâu and Lû, when the duke Mû asked Mencius,
saying,'Of my officers there were killed thirty-three men, and
none of the people would die in their defence. Though I
sentenced them to death for their conduct, it is impossible to
put such a multitude to death. If I do not put them to death,
then there is the crime unpunished of their looking angrily on
at the death of their officers, and not saving them. How is the
exigency of the case to be met?'
replied, 'In calamitous years and years of famine, the old and
weak of your people, who have been found lying in the ditches
and water-channels, and the able-bodied who have been scattered
about to the four quarters, have amounted to several thousands.
All the while, your granaries, 0 prince, have been stored with
grain, and your treasuries and arsenals have been full, and not
one of your officers has told you of the distress. Thus
negligent have the superiors in your State been, and cruel to
their inferiors. The philosopher Tsang said, "Beware, beware.
What proceeds from you, will return to you again." Now at length
the people have paid back the conduct of their officers to them.
Do not you, 0 prince, blame them.
3. 'If you will
put in practice a benevolent government, this people will love
you and all above them, and will die for their officers.'
1. The duke Wan of
T'ang asked Mencius, saying, 'T'ang is a small kingdom, and lies
between Ch'î and Ch'û. Shall I serve Ch'î? Or shall I serve Chû?'
replied, 'This plan which you propose is beyond me. If you will
have me counsel you, there is one thing I can suggest. Dig
deeper your moats; build higher your walls; guard them as well
as your people. In case of attack, be prepared to die in your
defence, and have the people so that they will not leave you;--
this is a proper course.
1. The duke Wan of
T'ang asked Mencius, saying, 'The people of Ch'î are going to
fortify Hsieh. The movement occasions me great alarm. What is
the proper course for me to take in the case?'
replied, 'Formerly, when king T'âi dwelt in Pin, the barbarians
of the north were continually making incursions upon it. He
therefore left it, went to the foot of mount Ch'î, and there
took up his residence. He did not take that situation, as having
selected it. It was a matter of necessity with him.
3. 'If you do
good, among your descendants, in after generations, there shall
be one who will attain to the royal dignity. A prince lays the
foundation of the inheritance, and hands down the beginning
which he has made, doing what may be continued by his
successors. As to the accomplishment of the great result, that
is with Heaven. What is that Ch'î to you, 0 prince? Be strong to
do good. That is all your business.'
1. The duke Wan of
T'ang asked Mencius, saying, 'T'ang is a small State. Though I
do my utmost to serve those large kingdoms on either side of it,
we cannot escape suffering from them. What course shall I take
that we may do so?' Mencius replied, 'Formerly, when king T'âi
dwelt in Pin, the barbarians of the north were constantly making
incursions upon it. He served them with skins and silks, and
still he suffered from them. He served them with dogs and
horses, and still he suffered from them. He served them with
pearls and gems, and still he suffered from them. Seeing this,
he assembled the old men, and announced to them, saying, "What
the barbarians want is my territory. I have heard this,-- that a
ruler does not injure his people with that wherewith he
nourishes them. My children, why should you be troubled about
having no prince? I will leave this." Accordingly, he left Pin,
crossed the mountain Liang, built a town at the foot of mount
Ch'î, and dwelt there. The people of Pin said, "He is a
benevolent man. We must not lose him." Those who followed him
looked like crowds hastening to market.
2. 'On the other
hand, some say, "The kingdom is a thing to be kept from
generation to generation. One individual cannot undertake to
dispose of it in his own person. Let him be prepared to die for
it. Let him not quit it."
3. 'I ask you,
prince, to make your election between these two courses.'
1. The duke P'ing
of Lû was about to leave his palace, when his favourite, one
Tsang Ts'ang, made a request to him, saying, 'On other days,
when you have gone out, you have given instructions to the
officers as to where you were going. But now, the horses have
been put to the carriage, and the officers do not yet know where
you are going. I venture to ask.' The duke said, 'I am going to
see the scholar Mang.' ' How is this?' said the other. 'That you
demean yourself, prince, in paying the honour of the first visit
to a common man, is, I suppose, because you think that he is a
man of talents and virtue. By such men the rules of ceremonial
proprieties and right are observed. But on the occasion of this
Mang's second mourning, his observances exceeded those of the
former. Do not go to see him, my prince.' The duke said, 'I will
2. The officer
Yo-chang entered the court, and had an audience. He said,
'Prince, why have you not gone to see Mang K'o?' the duke said,
'One told me that, on the occasion of the scholar Mang's second
mourning, his observances exceeded those of the former. It is on
that account that I have not gone to see him.' 'How is this!'
answered Yo-chang. 'By what you call "exceeding," you mean, I
suppose, that, on the first occasion, he used the rites
appropriate to a scholar, and, on the second, those appropriate
to a great officer; that he first used three tripods, and
afterwards five tripods.' The duke said, 'No; I refer to the
greater excellence of the coffin, the shell, the grave-clothes,
and the shroud.' Yo-chAng said, 'That cannot be called
"exceeding." That was the difference between being poor and
3. After this,
Yo-chang saw Mencius, and said to him, 'I told the prince about
you, and he was consequently coming to see you, when one of his
favourites, named Tsang Ts'ang, stopped him, and therefore he
did not come according to his purpose.' Mencius said, 'A man's
advancement is effected, it may be, by others, and the stopping
him is, it may be, from the efforts of others. But to advance a
man or to stop his advance is really beyond the power of other
men. My not finding in the prince of Lû a ruler who would
confide in me, and put my counsels into practice, is from
Heaven. How could that scion of the Tsang family cause me not to
find the ruler that would suit me?'