1. A man of Zan
asked the disciple Wû-lû, saying, 'Is an observance of the rules
of propriety in regard to eating, or eating merely, the more
important?' The answer was, 'The observance of the rules of
propriety is the more important.'
2. 'Is the
gratifying the appetite of sex, or the doing so only according
to the rules of propriety, the more important?' The answer again
was, 'The observance of the rules of propriety in the matter is
the more important.'
3. The man
pursued, 'If the result of eating only according to the rules of
propriety will be death by starvation, while by disregarding
those rules we may get food, must they still be observed in such
a case? If according to the rule that he shall go in person to
meet his wife a man cannot get married, while by disregarding
that rule he may get married, must he still observe the rule in
such a case?'
4. Wû-lû was
unable to reply to these questions, and the next day he went to
Tsâu, and told them to Mencius. Mencius said, 'What difficulty
is there in answering these inquiries?'
5. 'If you do not
adjust them at their lower extremities, but only put their tops
on a level, a piece of wood an inch square may be made to be
higher than the pointed peak of a high building.
6. 'Gold is
heavier than feathers;-- but does that saying have reference, on
the one hand, to a single clasp of gold, and, on the other, to a
waggon-load of feathers?
7. 'If you take a
case where the eating is of the utmost importance and the
observing the rules of propriety is of little importance, and
compare the things together, why stop with saying merely that
the eating is more important? So, taking the case where the
gratifying the appetite of sex is of the utmost importance and
the observing the rules of propriety is of little importance,
why stop with merely saying that the gratifying the appetite is
the more important?
8. 'Go and answer
him thus, "If, by twisting your elder brother's arm, and
snatching from him what he is eating, you can get food for
yourself, while, if you do not do so, you will not get anything
to eat, will you so twist his arm ? If by getting over your
neighbour's wall, and dragging away his virgin daughter, you can
get a wife, while if you do not do so, you will not be able to
get a wife, will you so drag her away?"'
1. Chiâo of Tsâo
asked Mencius, saying, 'It is said, "All men may be Yâos and
Shuns;"-- is it so?' Mencius replied, It is.'
2. Chiâo went on,
'I have heard that king Wan was ten cubits high, and T'ang nine.
Now I am nine cubits four inches in height. But I can do nothing
but eat my millet. What am I to do to realize that saying?'
answered him, 'What has this-- the question of size--- to do
with the matter? It all lies simply in acting as such. Here is a
man, whose strength was not equal to lift a duckling:-- he was
then a man of no strength. But to-day he says, "I can lift 3,000
catties' weight," and he is a man of strength. And so, he who
can lift the weight which Wû Hwo lifted is just another Wû Hwo.
Why should a man make a want of ability the subject of his
grief? It is only that he will not do the thing.
4. 'To walk
slowly, keeping behind his elders, is to perform the part of a
younger. To walk quickly and precede his elders, is to violate
the duty of a younger brother. Now, is it what a man cannot do--
to walk slowly? It is what he does not do. The course of Yâo and
Shun was simply that of filial piety and fraternal duty.
5. 'Wear the
clothes of Yâo, repeat the words of Yâo, and do the actions of
Yâo, and you will just be a Yâo. And, if you wear the clothes of
Chieh, repeat the words of Chieh, and do the actions of Chieh,
you will just be a Chieh.'
6. Chiâo said, 'I
shall be having an interview with the prince of Tsâu, and can
ask him to let me have a house to lodge in. I wish to remain
here, and receive instruction at your gate.'
replied, 'The way of truth is like a great road. It is not
difficult to know it. The evil is only that men will not seek
it. Do you go home and search for it, and you will have
abundance of teachers.'
1. Kung-sun Ch'âu
asked about an opinion of the scholar Kâo, saying, 'Kâo
observed, "The Hsiâo P'ân is the ode of a little man."' Mencius
asked, 'Why did he say so?' 'Because of the murmuring which it
expresses,' was the reply.
answered, 'How stupid was that old Kâo in dealing with the ode!
There is a man here, and a native of Yüeh bends his bow to shoot
him. I will advise him not to do so, but speaking calmly and
smilingly;-- for no other reason but that he is not related to
me. But if my own brother be bending his bow to shoot the man,
then I will advise him not to do so, weeping and crying the
while;-- for no other reason than that he is related to me. The
dissatisfaction expressed in the Hsiâo P'ân is the working of
relative affection, and that affection shows benevolence. Stupid
indeed was old Kâo's criticism on the ode.'
3. Ch'âu then
said, 'How is it that there is no dissatisfaction expressed in
the K'âi Fang?'
replied, 'The parent's fault referred to in the K'âi Fang is
small; that referred to in the Hsiâo P'ân is great. Where the
parent's fault was great, not to have murmured on account of it
would have increased the want of natural affection. Where the
parent's fault was small, to have murmured on account of it
would have been to act like water which frets and foams about a
stone that interrupts its course. To increase the want of
natural affection would have been unfilial, and to fret and foam
in such a manner would also have been unfilial.
5 'Confucius said,
"Shun was indeed perfectly filial! And yet, when he was fifty,
he was full of longing desire about his parents."'
1. Sung K'ang
being about to go to Ch'û, Mencius met him in Shih-ch'iû.
2. 'Master, where
are you going?' asked Mencius.
3. K'ang replied,
'I have heard that Ch'in and Ch'û are fighting together, and I
am going to see the king of Ch'û and persuade him to cease
hostilities. If he shall not be pleased with my advice, I shall
go to see the king of Ch'in, and persuade him in the same way.
Of the two kings I shall surely find that I can succeed with one
4. Mencius said,
'I will not venture to ask about the particulars, but I should
like to hear the scope of your plan. What course will you take
to try to persuade them?' K'ang answered, 'I will tell them how
unprofitable their course is to them.' 'Master,' said Mencius,
'your aim is great, but your argument is not good.
5. 'If you,
starting from the point of profit, offer your persuasive
counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings are
pleased with the consideration of profit so as to stop the
movements of their armies, then all belonging to those armies
will rejoice in the cessation of war, and find their pleasure in
the pursuit of profit. Ministers will serve their sovereign for
the profit of which they cherish the thought; sons will serve
their fathers, and younger brothers will serve their elder
brothers, from the same consideration:-- and the issue will be,
that, abandoning benevolence and righteousness, sovereign and
minister, father and son, younger brother and elder, will carry
on all their intercourse with this thought of profit cherished
in their breasts. But never has there been such a state of
society, without ruin being the result of it.
6. 'If you,
starting from the ground of benevolence and righteousness, offer
your counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings
are pleased with the consideration of benevolence and
righteousness so as to stop the operations of their armies, then
all belonging to those armies will rejoice in the stopping from
war, and find their pleasure in benevolence and righteousness.
Ministers will serve their sovereign, cherishing the principles
of benevolence and righteousness; sons will serve their fathers,
and younger brothers will serve their elder brothers, in the
same way:-- and so, sovereign and minister, father and son,
elder brother and younger, abandoning the thought of profit,
will cherish the principles of benevolence and righteousness,
and carry on all their intercourse upon them. But never has
there been such a state of society, without the State where it
prevailed rising to the royal sway. Why must you use that word
1. When Mencius
was residing in Tsâu, the younger brother of the chief of Zan,
who was guardian of Zan at the time, paid his respects to him by
a present of silks, which Mencius received, not going to
acknowledge it. When he was sojourning in P'ing-lû, Ch'û, who
was prime minister of the State, sent him a similar present,
which he received in the same way.
going from Tsâu to Zan, he visited the guardian; but when he
went from Ping-lû to the capital of Ch'î, he did not visit the
minister Ch'û. The disciple Wû-lû was glad, and said, 'I have
got an opportunity to obtain some instruction.'
3. He asked
accordingly, 'Master, when you went to Zan, you visited the
chief's brother; and when you went to Ch'î, you did not visit
Ch'û. Was it not because he is only the minister?'
replied, 'No. It is said in the Book of History, "In presenting
an offering to a superior, most depends on the demonstrations of
respect. If those demonstrations are not equal to the things
offeredred, we say there is no offering, that is, there is no
act of the will presenting the offering."
5. 'This is
because the things so offered do not constitute an offering to a
6. Wû-lû was
pleased, and when some one asked him what Mencius meant, he
said, 'The younger of Zan could not go to Tsâu, but the minister
Ch'û might have gone to P'ing-lû.'
1. Shun-yü K'wan
said, 'He who makes fame and meritorious services his first
objects, acts with a regard to others. He who makes them only
secondary objects, acts with a regard to himself. You, master,
were ranked among the three chief ministers of the State, but
before your fame and services had reached either to the prince
or the people, you have left your place. Is this indeed the way
of the benevolent?'
replied, 'There was Po'î;-- he abode in an inferior situation,
and would not, with his virtue, serve a degenerate prince. There
was Î Yin;-- he five times went to T'ang, and five times went to
Chieh. There was Hûi of Liû-hsiâ;-- he did not disdain to serve
a vile prince, nor did he decline a small office. The courses
pursued by those three worthies were different, but their aim
was one. And what was their one aim? We must answer-- "To be
perfectly virtuous." And so it is simply after this that
superior men strive. Why must they all pursue the same course?'
3. K'wan pursued,
'In the time of the duke Mû of Lû, the government was in the
hands of Kung-î, while Tsze-liû and Tsze-sze were ministers. And
yet, the dismemberment of Lû then increased exceedingly. Such
was the case, a specimen how your men of virtue are of no
advantage to a kingdom!'
4. Mencius said,
'The prince of Yü did not use Pâi-lî Hsi, and thereby lost his
State. The duke Mû of Chin used him, and became chief of all the
princes. Ruin is the consequence of not employing men of virtue
and talents;-- how can it rest with dismemberment merely?'
5. K'wan urged
again, 'Formerly, when Wang P'âo dwelt on the Ch'î, the people
on the west of the Yellow River all became skilful at singing in
his abrupt manner. When Mien Ch'ü lived in Kâo-t'ang, the people
in the parts of Ch'î on the west became skilful at singing in
his prolonged manner. The wives of Hwa Châu and Ch'î Liang
bewailed their husbands so skilfully, that they changed the
manners of the State. When there is the gift within, it
manifests itself without. I have never seen the man who could do
the deeds of a worthy, and did not realize the work of one.
Therefore there are now no men of talents and virtue. If there
were, I should know them.'
answered, 'When Confucius was chief minister of Justice in Lû,
the prince came not to follow his counsels. Soon after there was
the solstitial sacrifice, and when a part of the flesh presented
in sacrifice was not sent to him, he went away even without
taking off his cap of ceremony. Those who did not know him
supposed it was on account of the flesh. Those who knew him
supposed that it was on account of the neglect of the usual
ceremony. The fact was, that Confucius wanted to go away on
occasion of some small offence, not wishing to do so without
some apparent cause. All men cannot be expected to understand
the conduct of a superior man.'