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Mencius Chapter 16

Mencius said, 'When it appears proper to take a thing, and afterwards not proper, to take it is contrary to moderation. When it appears proper to give a thing and afterwards not proper, to give it is contrary to kindness. When it appears proper to sacrifice one's life, and afterwards not proper, to sacrifice it is contrary to bravery.'

1. P'ang Mang learned archery of Î. When he had acquired completely all the science of Î, he thought that in all the kingdom only Î was superior to himself, and so he slew him. Mencius said, 'In this case Î also was to blame. Kung-ming Î indeed said, "It would appear as if he were not to be blamed," but he thereby only meant that his blame was slight. How can he be held without any blame?'

2. 'The people of Chang sent Tsze-cho Yü to make a stealthy attack on Wei, which sent Yü-kung Sze to pursue him. Tsze-cho Yü said, "To-day I feel unwell, so that I cannot hold my bow. I am a dead man!" At the same time he asked his driver, "Who is it that is pursuing me?" The driver said, "It is Yü-kung Sze," on which, he exclaimed, "I shall live." The driver said, "Yü-kung Sze is the best archer of Wei, what do you mean by saying 'I shall live?'" Yü replied, "Yü-kung Sze learned archery from Yin-kung T'o, who again learned it from me. Now, Yin-kung T'o is an upright man, and the friends of his selection must be upright also." When Yü-kung Sze came up, he said, "Master, why are you not holding your bow?" Yü answered him, "To-day I am feeling unwell, and cannot hold my bow." On this Sze said, "I learned archery from Yin-kung T'o, who again learned it from you. I cannot bear to injure you with your own science. The business of to-day, however, is the prince's business, which I dare not neglect." He then took his arrows, knocked off their steel points against the carriage-wheel, discharged four of them, and returned.

1. Mencius said, 'If the lady Hsî had been covered with a filthy head-dress, all people would have stopped their noses in passing her.

2. 'Though a man may be wicked, yet if he adjust his thoughts, fast, and bathe, he may sacrifice to God.'

1. Mencius said, 'All who speak about the natures of things, have in fact only their phenomena to reason from, and the value of a phenomenon is in its being natural.

2. 'What I dislike in your wise men is their boring out their conclusions. If those wise men would only act as Yü did when he conveyed away the waters, there would be nothing to dislike in their wisdom. The manner in which Yü conveyed away the waters was by doing what gave him no trouble. If your wise men would also do that which gave them no trouble, their knowledge would also be great.

3. 'There is heaven so high; there are the stars so distant. If we have investigated their phenomena, we may, while sitting in our places, go back to the solstice of a thousand years ago.'

1. The officer Kung-hang having on hand the funeral of one of his sons, the Master of the Right went to condole with him. When this noble entered the door, some called him to them and spoke with him, and some went to his place and spoke with him.

2. Mencius did not speak with him, so that he was displeased, and said, 'All the gentlemen have spoken with me. There is only Mencius who does not speak to me, thereby slighting me.'

3. Mencius having heard of this remark, said, 'According to the prescribed rules, in the court, individuals may not change their places to speak with one another, nor may they pass from their ranks to bow to one another. I was wishing to observe this rule, and Tsze-âo understands it that I was slighting him:-- is not this strange?'

1. Mencius said, 'That whereby the superior man is distinguished from other men is what he preserves in his heart;-- namely, benevolence and propriety.

2. 'The benevolent man loves others. The man of propriety shows respect to others.

3. 'He who loves others is constantly loved by them. He who respects others is constantly respected by them.

4. 'Here is a man, who treats me in a perverse and unreasonable manner. The superior man in such a case will turn round upon himself-- "I must have been wanting in benevolence; I must have been wanting in propriety;-- how should this have happened to me?"

5. He examines himself, and is specially benevolent. He turns round upon himself, and is specially observant of propriety. The perversity and unreasonableness of the other, however, are still the same. The superior man will again turn round on himself-- "I must have been failing to do my utmost."

6. 'He turns round upon himself, and proceeds to do his utmost, but still the perversity and unreasonableness of the other are repeated. On this the superior man says, "This is a man utterly lost indeed! Since he conducts himself so, what is there to choose between him and a brute? Why should I go to contend with a brute?"

7. 'Thus it is that the superior man has a life-long anxiety and not one morning's calamity. As to what is matter of anxiety to him, that indeed be has.-- He says, "Shun was a man, and I also am a man. But Shun became an example to all the kingdom, and his conduct was worthy to be handed down to after ages, while I am nothing better than a villager." This indeed is the proper matter of anxiety to him. And in what way is he anxious about it? Just that he maybe like Shun:-- then only will he stop. As to what the superior man would feel to be a calamity, there is no such thing. He does nothing which is not according to propriety. If there should befall him one morning's calamity, the superior man does not account it a calamity.'

1. Yü and Chî, in an age when the world was being brought back to order, thrice passed their doors without entering them. Confucius praised them.

2. The disciple Yen, in an age of disorder, dwelt in a mean narrow lane, having his single bamboo-cup of rice, and his single gourd-dish of water; other men could not have endured the distress, but he did not allow his joy to be affected by it. Confucius praised him.

3. Mencius said, 'Yü, Chî, and Yen Hûi agreed in the principle of their conduct.

4. 'Yü thought that if any one in the kingdom were drowned, it was as if he drowned him. Chî thought that if any one in the kingdom suffered hunger, it was as if he famished him. It was on this account that they were so earnest.

5. If Yü and Chî, and Yen-tsze, had exchanged places, each would have done what the other did.

6. 'Here now in the same apartment with you are people fighting:-- you ought to part them. Though you part them with your cap simply tied over your unbound hair, your conduct will be allowable.

7. 'If the fighting be only in the village or neighbourhood, if you go to put an end to it with your cap tied over your hair unbound, you will be in error. Although you should shut your door in such a case, your conduct would be allowable.'

1. The disciple Kung-tû said, 'Throughout the whole kingdom everybody pronounces K'wang Chang unfilial. But you, Master, keep company with him, and moreover treat him with politeness. I venture to ask why you do so.'

2. Mencius replied, 'There are five things which are pronounced in the common usage of the age to be unfilial. The first is laziness in the use of one's four limbs, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The second is gambling and chess-playiDg, and being fond of wine, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The third is being fond of goods and money, and selfishly attached to his wife and children, without attending to the nourishment of his parents. The fourth is following the desires of one's ears and eyes, so as to bring his parents to disgrace. The fifth is being fond of bravery, fighting and quarrelling so as to endanger his parents. Is Chang guilty of any one of these things?

3. 'Now between Chang and his father there arose disagreement, he, the son, reproving his father, to urge him to what was good.

4. 'To urge one another to what is good by reproofs is the way of friends. But such urging between father and son is the greatest injury to the kindness, which should prevail between them.

5. 'Moreover, did not Chang wish to have in his family the relationships of husband and wife, child and mother? But because he had offended his father, and was not permitted to approach him, he sent away his wife, and drove forth his son, and all his life receives no cherishing attention from them. He settled it in his mind that if he did not act in this way, his would be one of the greatest of crimes.-- Such and nothing more is the case of Chang.'

1. When the philosopher Tsang dwelt in Wû-ch'ang, there came a band from Yüeh to plunder it. Someone said to him, 'The plunderers are coming:-- why not leave this?' Tsang on this left the city, saying to the man in charge of the house, 'Do not lodge any persons in my house, lest they break and injure the plants and trees.' When the plunderers withdrew, he sent word to him, saying, 'Repair the walls of my house. I am about to return.' When the plunderers retired, the philosopher Tsang returned accordingly. His disciples said, 'Since our master was treated with so much sincerity and respect, for him to be the first to go away on the arrival of the plunderers, so as to be observed by the people, and then to return on their retiring, appears to us to be improper.' Ch'an-yû Hsing said, 'You do not understand this matter. Formerly, when Ch'an-yû was exposed to the outbreak of the grass-carriers, there were seventy disciples in our master's following, and none of them took part in the matter.'

2. When Tsze-sze was living in Wei, there came a band from Ch'î to plunder. Some one said to him, 'The plunderers are coming;-- why not leave this?' Tsze-sze said, 'If I go away, whom will the prince have to guard the State with?'

3. Mencius said, 'The philosophers Tsang and Tsze-sze agreed in the principle of their conduct. Tsang was a teacher;-- in the place of a father or elder brother. Tsze-sze was a minister;-- in a meaner place. If the philosophers Tsang and Tsze-sze had exchanged places the one would have done what the other did.'

1. A man of Ch'î had a wife and a concubine, and lived together with them in his house. When their husband went out, he would get himself well filled with wine and flesh, and then return, and, on his wife's asking him with whom he ate and drank, they were sure to be all wealthy and honourable people. The wife informed the concubine, saying, 'When our good man goes out, he is sure to come back having partaken plentifully of wine and flesh. I asked with whom he ate and drank, and they are all, it seems, wealthy and honourable people. And yet no people of distinction ever come here. I will spy out where our good man goes.' Accordingly, she got up early in the morning, and privately followed wherever her husband went. Throughout the whole city, there was no one who stood or talked with him. At last, he came to those who were sacrificing among the tombs beyond the outer wall on the east, and begged what they had over. Not being satisfied, he looked about, and went to another party;-- and this was the way in which he got himself satiated. His wife returned, and informed the concubine, saying, 'It was to our husband that we looked up in hopeful contemplation, with whom our lot is cast for life;-- and now these are his ways!' On this, along with the concubine she reviled their husband, and they wept together in the middle hall. In the meantime the husband, knowing nothing of all this, came in with a jaunty air, carrying himself proudly to his wife and concubine.

2. In the view of a superior man, as to the ways by which men seek for riches, honours, gain, and advancement, there are few of their wives and concubines who would not be ashamed and weep together on account of them.