1. Mencius went
from Ch'î to Lû to bury his mother. On his return to Ch'î, he
stopped at Ying, where Ch'ung Yü begged to put a question to
him, and said, 'Formerly, in ignorance of my incompetency, you
employed me to superintend the making of the coffin. As you were
then pressed by the urgency of the business, I did not venture
to put any question to you. Now, however, I wish to take the
liberty to submit the matter. The wood of the coffin, it
appeared to me, was too good.'
replied, 'Anciently, there was no rule for the size of either
the inner or the outer coffin. In middle antiquity, the inner
coffin was made seven inches thick, and the outer one the same.
This was done by all, from the sovereign to the common people,
and not simply for the beauty of the appearance, but because
they thus satisfied the natural feelings of their hearts.
3. 'If prevented
by statutory regulations from making their coffins in this way,
men cannot have the feeling of pleasure. If they have not the
money to make them in this way, they cannot have the feeling of
pleasure. When they were not prevented, and had the money, the
ancients all used this style. Why should I alone not do so?
4. 'And moreover,
is there no satisfaction to the natural feelings of a man, in
preventing the earth from getting near to the bodies of his
5. 'I have heard
that the superior man will not for all the world be niggardly to
1. Shan T'ung, on
his own impulse, asked Mencius, saying, 'May Yen be smitten?'
Mencius replied, 'It may. Tsze-k'wâi had no right to give Yen to
another man, and Tsze-chih had no right to receive Yen from
Tsze-k'wâi. Suppose there were an officer here, with whom you,
Sir, were pleased, and that, without informing the king, you
were privately to give to him your salary and rank; and suppose
that this officer, also without the king's orders, were
privately to receive them from you-- would such a transaction be
allowable? And where is the difference between the case of Yen
2. The people of
Ch'î smote Yen. Some one asked Mencius, saying, 'Is it really
the case that you advised Ch'î to smite Yen?' He replied, 'No.
Shan T'ung asked me whether Yen might be smitten, and I answered
him, "It may." They accordingly went and smote it. If he had
asked me-- "Who may smite it?" I would have answered him, "He
who is the minister of Heaven may smite it." Suppose the case of
a murderer, and that one asks me-- "May this man be put to
death?" I will answer him-- "He may." If he ask me-- "Who may
put him to death?" I will answer him, "The chief criminal judge
may put him to death." But now with one Yen to smite another
Yen:-- how should I have advised this?'
1. The people of
Yen having rebelled, the king of Ch'î said, 'I feel very much
ashamed when I think of Mencius.'
2. Ch'an Chiâ said
to him, 'Let not your Majesty be grieved. Whether does your
Majesty consider yourself or Châu-kung the more benevolent and
wise?' The king replied, 'Oh! what words are those?' 'The duke
of Châu,' said Chiâ, 'appointed Kwan-shû to oversee the heir of
Yin, but Kwan-shû with the power of the Yin State rebelled. If
knowing that this would happen he appointed Kwan-shû, he was
deficient in benevolence. If he appointed him, not knowing that
it would happen, he was deficient in knowledge. If the duke of
Châu was not completely benevolent and wise, how much less can
your Majesty be expected to be so! I beg to go and see Mencius,
and relieve your Majesty from that feeling.'
3. Ch'an Chiâ
accordingly saw Mencius, and asked him, saying, 'What kind of
man was the duke of Châu?' 'An ancient sage,' was the reply. 'Is
it the fact, that he appointed Kwan-shû to oversee the heir of
Yin, and that Kwan-shû with the State of Yin rebelled?' 'It is.'
'Did the duke of Châu. know that he would rebel, and purposely
appoint him to that office?' Mencius said, 'He did not know.'
'Then, though a sage, he still fell into error?' 'The duke of
Châu,' answered Mencius, 'was the younger brother. Kwan-shû was
his elder brother. Was not the error of Châu-kung in accordance
with what is right?
4. 'Moreover, when
the superior men of old had errors, they reformed them. The
superior men of the present time, when they have errors, persist
in them. The errors of the superior men of old were like
eclipses of the sun and moon. All the people witnessed them, and
when they had reformed them, all the people looked up to them
with their former admiration. But do the superior men of the
present day only persist in their errors? They go on to
apologize for them likewise.'
1. Mencius gave up
his office, and made arrangements for returning to his native
2. The king came
to visit him, and said, 'Formerly, I wished to see you, but in
vain. Then, I got the opportunity of being by your side, and all
my court joyed exceedingly along with me. Now again you abandon
me, and are returning home. I do not know if hereafter I may
expect to have another opportunity of seeing you.' Mencius
replied, 'I dare not request permission to visit you at any
particular time, but, indeed, it is what I desire.'
3. Another day,
the king said to the officer Shih, 'I wish to give Mencius a
house, somewhere in the middle of the kingdom, and to support
his disciples with an allowance of 10,000 chung, that all the
officers and the people may have such an example to reverence
and imitate. Had you not better tell him this for me?'
4. Shih took
advantage to convey this message by means of the disciple Ch'an,
who reported his words to Mencius.
5. Mencius said,
'Yes; but how should the officer Shih know that the thing could
not be? Suppose that I wanted to be rich, having formerly
declined 100,000 chung, would my now accepting 10,000 be the
conduct of one desiring riches?
6. 'Chî-sun said,
"A strange man was Tsze-shû Î. He pushed himself into the
service of government. His prince declining to employ him, he
had to retire indeed, but he again schemed that his son or
younger brother should be made a high officer. Who indeed is
there of men but wishes for riches and honour? But he only,
among the seekers of these, tried to monopolize the conspicuous
7. '"Of old time,
the market-dealers exchanged the articles which they had for
others which they had not, and simply had certain officers to
keep order among them. It happened that there was a mean fellow,
who made it a point to look out for a conspicuous mound, and get
up upon it. Thence he looked right and left, to catch in his net
the whole gain of the market. The people all thought his conduct
mean, and therefore they proceeded to lay a tax upon his wares.
The taxing of traders took its rise from this mean fellow."'
1. Mencius, having
taken his leave of Ch'î, was passing the night in Châu.
2. A person who
wished to detain him on behalf of the king, came and sat down,
and began to speak to him. Mencius gave him no answer, but leant
upon his stool and slept.
3. The visitor was
displeased, and said, 'I passed the night in careful vigil,
before I would venture to speak to you, and you, Master, sleep
and do not listen to me. Allow me to request that I may not
again presume to see you.' Mencius replied, 'Sit down, and I
will explain the case clearly to you. Formerly, if the duke Mû
had not kept a person by the side of Tsze-sze, he could not have
induced Tsze-sze to remain with him. If Hsieh Liû and Shan
Hsiang had not had a remembrancer by the side of the duke Mû, he
would not have been able to make them feel at home and remain
4. 'You anxiously
form plans with reference to me, but you do not treat me as
Tsze-sze was treated. Is it you, Sir, who cut me? Or is it I who
1. When Mencius
had left Ch'î, Yin Shih spoke about him to others, saying, 'If
he did not know that the king could not be made a T'ang or a Wû,
that showed his want of intelligence. If he knew that he could
not be made such, and came notwithstanding, that shows he was
seeking his own benefit. He came a thousand lî to wait on the
king; because he did not find in him a ruler to suit him, he
took his leave, but how dilatory and lingering was his
departure, stopping three nights before he quitted Châu! I am
dissatisfied on account of this.'
2. The disciple
Kâo informed Mencius of these remarks.
3. Mencius said,
'How should Yin Shih know me! When I came a thousand lî to wait
on the king, it was what I desired to do. When I went away
because I did not find in him a ruler to suit me, was that what
I desired to do? I felt myself constrained to do it.
4. 'When I stopped
three nights before I quitted Châu, in my own mind I still
considered my departure speedy. I was hoping that the king might
change. If the king had changed, he would certainly have
5. 'When I quitted
Châu, and the king had not sent after me, then, and not till
then, was my mind resolutely bent on returning to Tsâu. But,
notwithstanding that, how can it be said that I give up the
king? The king, after all, is one who may be made to do what is
good. If he were to use me, would it be for the happiness of the
people of Ch'î only ? It would be for the happiness of the
people of the whole kingdom. I am hoping that the king will
change. I am daily hoping for this.
6. 'Am I like one
of your little-minded people? They will remonstrate with their
prince, and on their remonstrance not being accepted, they get
angry; and, with their passion displayed in their countenance,
they take their leave, and travel with all their strength for a
whole day, before they will stop for the night.'
7. When Yin Shih
heard this explanation, he said, 'I am indeed a small man.'
1. When Mencius
left Ch'î, Ch'ung Yü questioned him upon the way, saying,
'Master, you look like one who carries an air of dissatisfaction
in his countenance. But formerly I heard you say-- "The superior
man does not murmur against Heaven, nor grudge against men."'
2. Mencius said,
'That was one time, and this is another.
3. 'It is a rule
that a true royal sovereign should arise in the course of five
hundred years, and that during that time there should be men
illustrious in their generation.
4. 'From the
commencement of the Châu dynasty till now, more than seven
hundred years have elapsed. Judging numerically, the date is
past. Examining the character of the present time, we might
expect the rise of such individuals in it.
5. 'But Heaven
does not yet wish that the kingdom should enjoy tranquillity and
good order. If it wished this, who is there besides me to bring
it about? How should I be otherwise than dissatisfied?'
1. When Mencius
left Ch'î, he dwelt in Hsiû. There Kung-sun Ch'âu asked him,
saying, 'Was it the way of the ancients to hold office without
replied, 'No; when I first saw the king in Ch'ung, it was my
intention, on retiring from the interview, to go away. Because I
did not wish to change this intention, I declined to receive any
after, there came orders for the collection of troops, when it
would have been improper for me to beg permission to leave. But
to remain so long in Ch'î was not my purpose.'