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Mencius Chapter 12

1. Mencius said to Tâi Pû-shang, 'I see that you are desiring your king to be virtuous, and will plainly tell you how he may be made so. Suppose that there is a great officer of Ch'û here, who wishes his son to learn the speech of Ch'î. Will he in that case employ a man of Ch'î as his tutor, or a man of Ch'û?' 'He will employ a man of Ch'î to teach him,' said Pû-shang. Mencius went on, 'If but one man of Ch'î be teaching him, and there be a multitude of men of Ch'û continually shouting out about him, although his father beat him every day, wishing him to learn the speech of Ch'î, it will be impossible for him to do so. But in the same way, if he were to be taken and placed for several years in Chwang or Yo, though his father should beat him, wishing him to speak the language of Ch'û, it would be impossible for him to do so.

2. 'You supposed that Hsieh Chü-châu was a scholar of virtue, and you have got him placed in attendance on the king. Suppose that all in attendance on the king, old and young, high and low, were Hsieh Chü-châus, whom would the king have to do evil with? And suppose that all in attendance on the king, old and young, high and low, are not Hsieh Chü-châus, whom will the king gave to do good with? What can one Hsieh Chü-châu do alone for the king of Sung?'

1. Kung-sun Châu asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the point of righteousness involved in your not going to see the princes?' Mencius replied, 'Among the ancients, if one had not een a minister in a State, he did not go to see the sovereign.

2. 'Twan Kan-mû leaped over his wall to avoid the prince. Hsieh Liû shut his door, and would not admit the prince. These two, however, carried their scrupulosity to excess. When a prince is urgent, it is not improper to see him.

3. 'Yang Ho wished to get Confucius to go to see him, but disliked doing so by any want of propriety. As it is the rule, therefore, that when a great officer sends a gift to a scholar, if the latter be not at home to receive it, he must go to the officer's to pay his respects, Yang Ho watched when Confucius was out, and sent him a roasted pig. Confucius, in his turn, watched when Ho was out, and went to pay his respects to him. At that time, Yang Ho had taken the initiative;-- how could Confucius decline going to see him?

4. 'Tsang-tsze said, "They who shrug up their shoulders, and laugh in a flattering way, toil harder than the summer labourer in the fields." Tsze-lû said, "There are those who talk with people with whom they have no great community of feeling. If you look at their countenances, they are full of blushes. I do not desire to know such persons." By considering these remarks, the spirit which the superior man nourishes may be known.'

1. Tâi Ying-chih said to Mencius, 'I am not able at present and immediately to do with the levying of a tithe only, and abolishing the duties charged at the passes and in the markets. With your leave I will lighten, however, both the tax and the duties, until next year, and will then make an end of them. What do you think of such a course?'

2. Mencius said, 'Here is a man, who every day appropriates some of his neighbour's strayed fowls. Some one says to him, "Such is not the way of a good man;" and he replies, "With your leave I will diminish my appropriations, and will take only one fowl a month, until next year, when I will make an end of the practice."

3. 'If you know that the thing is unrighteous, then use all despatch in putting an end to it:-- why wait till next year?'

1. The disciple Kung-tû said to Mencius, 'Master, the people beyond our school all speak of you as being fond of disputing. I venture to ask whether it be so.' Mencius replied, 'Indeed, I am not fond of disputing, but I am compelled to do it.

2. 'A long time has elapsed since this world of men received its being, and there has been along its history now a period of good order, and now a period of confusion.

3. 'In the time of Yâo, the waters, flowing out of their channels, inundated the Middle Kingdom. Snakes and dragons occupied it, and the people had no place where they could settle themselves. In the low grounds they made nests for themselves on the trees or raised platforms, and in the high grounds they made caves. It is said in the Book of History, "The waters in their wild course warned me." Those "waters in their wild course" were the waters of the great inundation.

4. 'Shun employed Yü to reduce the waters to order. Yü dug open their obstructed channels, and conducted them to the sea. He drove away the snakes and dragons, and forced them into the grassy marshes. On this, the waters pursued their course through the country, even the waters of the Chiang, the Hwâi, the Ho, and the Han, and the dangers and obstructions which they had occasioned were removed. The birds and beasts which had injured the people also disappeared, and after this men found the plains available for them, and occupied them.

5. 'After the death of Yâo and Shun, the principles that mark sages fell into decay. Oppressive sovereigns arose one after another, who pulled down houses to make ponds and lakes, so that the people knew not where they could rest in quiet; they threw fields out of cultivation to form gardens and parks, so that the people could not get clothes and food. Afterwards, corrupt speakings and oppressive deeds became more rife; gardens and parks, ponds and lakes, thickets and marshes became more numerous, and birds and beasts swarmed. By the time of the tyrant Châu, the kingdom was again in a state of great confusion.

6. 'Châu-kung assisted king Wû, and destroyed Châu. He smote Yen, and after three years put its sovereign to death. He drove Fei-lien to a corner by the sea, and slew him. The States which he extinguished amounted to fifty. He drove far away also the tigers, leopards, rhinoceroses, and elephants;-- and all the people was greatly delighted. It is said in the Book of History, "Great and splendid were the plans of king Wan! Greatly were they carried out by the energy of king Wû! They are for the assistance and instruction of us who are of an after day. They are all in principle correct, and deficient in nothing."

7. 'Again the world fell into decay, and principles faded away. Perverse speakings and oppressive deeds waxed rife again. There were instances of ministers who murdered their sovereigns, and of sons who murdered their fathers.

8. 'Confucius was afraid, and made the "Spring and Autumn." What the "Spring and Autumn" contains are matters proper to the sovereign. On this account Confucius said, "Yes! It is the Spring and Autumn which will make men know me, and it is the Spring and Autumn which will make men condemn me."

9. 'Once more, sage sovereigns cease to arise, and the princes of the States give the reins to their lusts. Unemployed scholars indulge in unreasonable discussions. The words of Yang Chû and Mo Tî fill the country. If you listen to people's discourses throughout it, you will find that they have adopted the views either of Yang or of Mo. Now, Yang's principle is-- "each one for himself," which does not acknowledge the claims of the sovereign. Mo's principle is-- "to love all equally," which does not acknowledge the peculiar affection due to a father. But to acknowledge neither king nor father is to be in the state of a beast. Kung-ming Î said, "In their kitchens, there is fat meat. In their stables, there are fat horses. But their people have the look of hunger, and on the wilds there are those who have died of famine. This is leading on beasts to devour men." If the principles of Yang and Mo be not stopped, and the principles of Confucius not set forth, then those perverse speakings will delude the people, and stop up the path of benevolence and righteousness. When benevolence and righteousness are stopped up, beasts will be led on to devour men, and men will devour one another.

10. 'I am alarmed by these things, and address myself to the defence of the doctrines of the former sages, and to oppose Yang and Mo. I drive away their licentious expressions, so that such perverse speakers may not be able to show themselves. Their delusions spring up in men's minds, and do injury to their practice of affairs. Shown in their practice of affairs, they are pernicious to their government. When sages shall rise up again, they will not change my words.

11. 'In former times, Yü repressed the vast waters of the inundation, and the country was reduced to order. Châu-kung's achievements extended even to the barbarous tribes of the east and north, and he drove away all ferocious animals, and the people enjoyed repose. Confucius completed the "Spring and Autumn," and rebellious ministers and villainous sons were struck with terror.

12. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,

"He smote the barbarians of the west and the north;
He punished Ching and Shû
And no one dared to resist us."

These father-deniers and king-deniers would have been smitten by Châu-kung.

13. 'I also wish to rectify men's hearts, and to put an end to those perverse doctrines, to oppose their one-sided actions and banish away their licentious expressions;-- and thus to carry on the work of the three sages. Do I do so because I am fond of disputing? I am compelled to do it.

14. 'Whoever is able to oppose Yang and Mo is a disciple of the sages.'

1. K'wang Chang said to Mencius, 'Is not Ch'an Chung a man of true self-denying purity? He was living in Wû-ling, and for three days was without food, till he could neither hear nor see. Over a well there grew a plum-tree, the fruit of which had been more than half eaten by worms. He crawled to it, and tried to eat some of the fruit, when, after swallowing three mouthfuls, he recovered his sight and hearing.'

2. Mencius replied, 'Among the scholars of Ch'î, I must regard Chung as the thumb among the fingers. But still, where is the self-denying purity he pretends to? To carry out the principles which he holds, one must become an earthworm, for so only can it be done.

3. 'Now, an earthworm eats the dry mould above, and drinks the yellow spring below. Was the house in which Chung dwells built by a Po-î? or was it built by a robber like Chih? Was the millet which he eats planted by a Po-î? or was it planted by a robber like Chih? These are things which cannot be known.'

4. 'But,' said Chang, 'what does that matter? He himself weaves sandals of hemp, and his wife twists and dresses threads of hemp to sell or exchange them.'

5. Mencius rejoined, 'Chung belongs to an ancient and noble family of Ch'î. His elder brother Tâi received from Kâ a revenue of 10,000 chung, but he considered his brother's emolument to be unrighteous, and would not eat of it, and in the same way he considered his brother's house to be unrighteous, and would not dwell in it. Avoiding his brother and leaving his mother, he went and dwelt in Wû-ling. One day afterwards, he returned to their house, when it happened that some one sent his brother a present of a live goose. He, knitting his eyebrows, said, "What are you going to use that cackling thing for?" By-and-by his mother killed the goose, and gave him some of it to eat. Just then his brother came into the house, and said, "It is the flesh of that cackling thing," upon which he went out and vomited it.

6. 'Thus, what his mother gave him he would not eat, but what his wife gives him he eats. He will not dwell in his brother's house, but he dwells in Wû-ling. How can he in such circumstances complete the style of life which he professes? With such principles as Chung holds, a man must be an earthworm, and then he can carry them out.'