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Mencius Chapter 27

1. Mencius said, 'The opposite indeed of benevolent was the king Hûi of Liang! The benevolent, beginning with what they care for, proceed to what they do not care for. Those who are the opposite of benevolent, beginning with what they do not care for, proceed to what they care for.'

2. 'Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'What do you mean?' Mencius answered, 'The king Hûi of Liang, for the matter of territory, tore and destroyed his people, leading them to battle. Sustaining a great defeat, he would engage again, and afraid lest they should not be able to secure the victory, urged his son whom he loved till he sacrificed him with them. This is what I call-- "beginning with what they do not care for, and proceeding to what they care for."'

1. Mencius said, 'In the "Spring and Autumn" there are no righteous wars. Instances indeed there are of one war better than another.

2. '"Correction" is when the supreme authority punishes its subjects by force of arms. Hostile States do not correct one another.'

1. Mencius said, 'It would be better to be without the Book of History than to give entire credit to it.

2. 'In the "Completion of the War," I select two or three passages only, which I believe.

3. '"The benevolent man has no enemy under heaven. When the prince the most benevolent was engaged against him who was the most the opposite, how could the blood of the people have flowed till it floated the pestles of the mortars?"'

1. Mencius said, 'There are men who say-- "I am skilful at marshalling troops, I am skilful at conducting a battle!"-- They are great criminals.

2. 'If the ruler of a State love benevolence, he will have no enemy in the kingdom.

3. When T'ang was executing his work of correction in the south, the rude tribes on the north murmured. When he was executing it in the east, the rude tribes on the west murmured. Their cry was-- "Why does he make us last?"

4. 'When king Wû punished Yin, he had only three hundred chariots of war, and three thousand life-guards.

5. 'The king said, "Do not fear. Let me give you repose. I am no enemy to the people!" On this, they bowed their heads to the earth, like the horns of animals falling off.

6. '"Royal correction" is but another word for rectifying. Each State wishing itself to be corrected, what need is there for fighting?'

Mencius said, 'A carpenter or a carriage-maker may give a man the circle and square, but cannot make him skilful in the use of them.'

Mencius said, 'Shun's manner of eating his parched grain and herbs was as if he were to be doing so all his life. When he became sovereign, and had the embroidered robes to wear, the lute to play, and the two daughters of Yâo to wait on him, he was as if those things belonged to him as a matter of course.'

Mencius said, 'From this time forth I know the heavy consequences of killing a man's near relations. When a man kills another's father, that other will kill his father; when a man kills another's elder brother, that other will kill his elder brother. So he does not himself indeed do the act, but there is only an interval between him and it.'

1. Mencius said, 'Anciently, the establishment of the frontier-gates was to guard against violence.

2. 'Nowadays, it is to exercise violence.'

Mencius said, 'If a man himself do not walk in the right path, it will not be walked in even by his wife and children. If he order men according to what is not the right way, he will not be able to get the obedience of even his wife and children.'

Mencius said, 'A bad year cannot prove the cause of death to him whose stores of gain are large; an age of corruption cannot confound him whose equipment of virtue is complete.'

Mencius said, 'A man who loves fame may be able to decline a State of a thousand chariots; but if he be not really the man to do such a thing, it will appear in his countenance, in the matter of a dish of rice or a platter of soup.'

1. Mencius said, 'If men of virtue and ability be not confided in, a State will become empty and void.

2. 'Without the rules of propriety and distinctions of right, the high and the low will be thrown into confusion.

3. 'Without the great principles of government and their various business, there will not be wealth sufficient for the expenditure.'

1. Mencius said, 'The people are the most important element in a nation; the spirits of the land and grain are the next; the sovereign is the lightest.

2. 'Therefore to gain the peasantry is the way to become sovereign; to gain the sovereign is the way to become a prince of a State; to gain the prince of a State is the way to become a great officer.

3. 'When a prince endangers the altars of the spirits of the land and grain, he is changed, and another appointed in his place.

4. 'When the sacrificial victims have been perfect, the millet in its vessels all pure, and the sacrifices offered at their proper seasons, if yet there ensue drought, or the waters overflow, the spirits of the land and grain are changed, and others appointed in their place.'

Mencius said, 'A sage is the teacher of a hundred generations:-- this is true of Po-î and Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ. Therefore when men now bear the character of Po-î, the corrupt become pure, and the weak acquire determination. When they hear the character of Hûi of Liû-Hsiâ, the mean become generous, and the niggardly become liberal. Those two made themselves distinguished a hundred generations ago, and after a hundred generations, those who hear of them, are all aroused in this manner. Could such effects be produced by them, if they had not been sages? And how much more did they affect those who were in contiguity with them, and felt their inspiring influence!'

Mencius said, 'When Confucius was leaving Lû, he said, "I will set out by-and-by;"-- this was the way in which to leave the State of his parents. When he was leaving Ch'î, he strained off with his hand the water in which his rice was being rinsed, took the rice, and went away;-- this was the way in which to leave a strange State.'

Mencius said, 'The reason why the superior man was reduced to straits between Ch'an and Ts'âi was because neither the princes of the time nor their ministers sympathized or communicated with him.'

1. Mo Ch'î said, 'Greatly am I from anything to depend upon from the mouths of men.'

2. Mencius observed, 'There is no harm in that. Scholars are more exposed than others to suffer from the mouths of men.

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

"My heart is disquieted and grieved,
I am hated by the crowd of mean creatures."

This might have been said by Confucius. And again,

"Though he did not remove their wrath,
He did not let fall his own fame."

This might be said of king Wan.'

Mencius said, 'Anciently, men of virtue and talents by means of their own enlightenment made others enlightened. Nowadays, it is tried, while they are themselves in darkness, and by means of that darkness, to make others enlightened.'

Mencius said to the disciple Kâo, 'There are the footpaths along the hills;-- if suddenly they be used, they become roads; and if, as suddenly they are not used, the wild grass fills them up. Now, the wild grass fills up your mind.'

1. The disciple Kâo said, 'The music of Yü was better than that of king Wan.'

2. Mencius observed, 'On what ground do you say so?' and the other replied, 'Because at the pivot the knob of Yü's bells is nearly worn through.'

3. Mencius said, 'How can that be a sufficient proof? Are the ruts at the gate of a city made by a single two-horsed chariot?'

1. When Ch'î was suffering from famine, Ch'an Tsin said to Mencius, 'The people are all thinking that you, Master, will again ask that the granary of T'ang be opened for them. I apprehend you will not do so a second time.'

2. Mencius said, 'To do it would be to act like Fang Fû. There was a man of that name in Tsin, famous for his skill in seizing tigers. Afterwards he became a scholar of reputation, and going once out to the wild country, he found the people all in pursuit of a tiger. The tiger took refuge in a corner of a hill, where no one dared to attack him, but when they saw Fang Fû, they ran and met him. Fang Fû immediately bared his arms, and descended from the carriage. The multitude were pleased with him, but those who were scholars laughed at him.'