Front Page Titles (by Subject) KING HWUY OF LËANG. PART I. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
KING HWUY OF LËANG. PART I. - Mencius, The Chinese Classics: Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius 
The Chinese Classics: Translated into English with Preliminary Essays and Explanatory Notes by James Legge. Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius. (London: N. Trübner, 1875).
Part of: The Chinese Classics
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
KING HWUY OF LËANG. PART I.
2. The king said, “Venerable Sir, since you have not counted it far to come here, a distance of a thousand le, may I presume that you are likewise provided with [counsels] to profit my kingdom?”
3. Mencius replied, “Why must your Majesty use that word ‘profit’? What I am likewise provided with are [counsels to] benevolence and righteousness; and these are my only topics.
4. “If your Majesty say, ‘What is to be done to profit my kingdom?’ the great officers will say, ‘What is to be done to profit our families?’ and the [inferior] officers and the common people will say, ‘What is to be done to profit our persons?’ Superiors and inferiors will try to take the profit the one from the other, and the kingdom will be endangered. In the kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of his ruler will be [the chief of] a family of a thousand chariots. In the State of a thousand chariots, the murderer of his ruler will be [the chief of] a family of a hundred chariots. To have a thousand in ten thousand, and a hundred in a thousand, cannot be regarded as not a large allowance; but if righteousness be put last and profit first, they will not be satisfied without snatching all.
5. “There never was a man trained to benevolence who neglected his parents. There never was a man trained to righteousness who made his ruler an after-consideration.
6. “Let your Majesty likewise make benevolence and righteousness your only themes;—why must you speak of profit?”
II.1. When Mencius [another day] was seeing king Hwuy of Lëang, the king [went and] stood [with him] by a pond, and, looking round on the wild geese and deer, large and small, said, “Do wise and good [princes] also take pleasure in these things?”
2. Mencius replied, “Being wise and good, they then have pleasure in these things. If they are not wise and good, though they have these things, they do not find pleasure.
3. “It is said in the Book of Poetry:—
King Wăn used the strength of the people to make his tower and pond, and the people rejoiced [to do the work], calling the tower ‘the Marvellous tower,’ and the pond ‘the Marvellous pond,’ and being glad that he had his deer, his fishes, and turtles. The ancients caused their people to have pleasure as well as themselves, and therefore they could enjoy it.
4. “In the Declaration of T‘ang it is said, ‘O sun, when wilt thou expire? We will die together with thee.’ The people wished [for Këeh’s death, though] they should die with him. Although he had his tower, his pond, birds and animals, how could he have pleasure alone?”
III.1. King Hwuy of Lëang said, “Small as my virtue is, in [the government of] my kingdom, I do indeed exert my mind to the utmost. If the year be bad inside the Ho, I remove [as many of] the people [as] I can to the east of it, and convey grain to the country inside. If the year be bad on the east of the river, I act on the same plan. On examining the governmental methods of the neighbouring kingdoms, I do not find there is any [ruler] who exerts his mind as I do. And yet the people of the neighbouring kings do not decrease, nor do my people increase;—how is this?”
2. Mencius replied, “Your Majesty loves war; allow me to take an illustration from war. [The soldiers move forward at] the sound of the drum; and when the edges of their weapons have been crossed, [on one side] they throw away their buff-coats, trail their weapons behind them, and run. Some run a hundred paces and then stop; some run fifty paces and stop. What would you think if these, because [they had run but] fifty paces, should laugh at [those who ran] a hundred paces?” The king said, “They cannot do so. They only did not run a hundred paces; but they also ran.” [Mencius] said, “Since your Majesty knows this, you have no ground to expect that your people will become more numerous than those of the neighbouring kingdoms.
3. “If the seasons of husbandry be not interfered with, the grain will be more than can be eaten. If close nets are not allowed to enter the pools and ponds, the fish and turtles will be more than can be consumed. If the axes and bills enter the hill-forests [only] at the proper times, the wood will be more than can be used. When the grain and fish and turtles are more than can be eaten, and there is more wood than can be used, this enables the people to nourish their living and do all offices for their dead, without any feeling against any. [But] this condition, in which [the people] nourish their living, and do all offices to their dead without having any feeling against any, is the first step in the Royal way.
4. “Let mulberry-trees be planted about the homesteads with their five acres, and persons of fifty years will be able to wear silk. In keeping fowls, pigs, dogs, and swine, let not their times of breeding be neglected, and persons of seventy years will be able to eat flesh. Let there not be taken away the time that is proper for the cultivation of the field-allotment of a hundred acres, and the family of several mouths will not suffer from hunger. Let careful attention be paid to the teaching in the various schools, with repeated inculcation of the filial and fraternal duties, and gray-haired men will not be seen upon the roads, carrying burdens on their backs or on their heads. It has never been that [the ruler of a State] where these results were seen, persons of seventy wearing silk and eating flesh, and the black-haired people suffering neither from hunger nor cold, did not attain to the Royal dignity.
5. “Your dogs and swine eat the food of men, and you do not know to store up [of the abundance]. There are people dying from famine on the roads, and you do not know to issue [your stores for their relief]. When men die, you say, ‘It is not owing to me; it is owing to the year.’ In what does this differ from stabbing a man and killing him, and then saying, ‘It was not I; it was the weapon’? Let your Majesty cease to lay the blame on the year, and instantly the people, all under the sky, will come to you.”
IV.1. King Hwuy of Lëang said, “I wish quietly to receive your instructions.”
2. Mencius replied, “Is there any difference between killing a man with a stick and with a sword?” “There is no difference,” was the answer.
3. [Mencius continued,] “Is there any difference between doing it with a sword and with governmental measures?” “There is not,” was the answer [again].
4. [Mencius then] said, “In [your] stalls there are fat beasts; in [your] stables there are fat horses. [But] your people have the look of hunger, and in the fields there are those who have died of famine. This is leading on beasts to devour men.
5. “Beasts devour one another, and men hate them [for doing so]. When he who is [called] the parent of the people conducts his government so as to be chargeable with leading on beasts to devour men, where is that parental relation to the people?
6. “Chung-ne said, ‘Was he not without posterity who first made wooden images [to bury with the dead]?’ [So he said,] because that man made the semblances of men and used them [for that purpose];—what shall be thought of him who causes his people to die of hunger?”
V.1. King Hwuy of Lëang said, “There was not in the kingdom a stronger State than Ts‘in, as you, venerable Sir, know. But since it descended to me, on the east we were defeated by Ts‘e, and then my eldest son perished; on the west we lost seven hundred le of territory to Ts‘in; and on the south we have sustained disgrace at the hands of Ts‘oo. I have brought shame on my departed predecessors, and wish on their account to wipe it away once for all. What course is to be pursued to accomplish this?”
2. Mencius replied, “With a territory [only] a hundred le square it has been possible to obtain the Royal dignity.
3. “If your Majesty will [indeed] dispense a benevolent government to the people, being sparing in the use of punishments and fines, and making the taxes and levies of produce light, [so causing that] the fields shall be ploughed deep, and the weeding well attended to, and that the able-bodied, during their days of leisure, shall cultivate their filial piety, fraternal duty, faithfulness, and truth, serving thereby, at home, their fathers and elder brothers, and, abroad, their elders and superiors; you will then have a people who can be employed with sticks which they have prepared to oppose the strong buff-coats and sharp weapons of [the troops of] Ts‘in and Ts‘oo.
4. “[The rulers of] those [States] rob their people of their time, so that they cannot plough and weed their fields in order to support their parents. Parents suffer from cold and hunger; elder and younger brothers, wives and children, are separated and scattered abroad.
5. “Those [rulers] drive their people into pitfalls or into the water; and your Majesty will go to punish them. In such a case, who will oppose your Majesty?
6. “In accordance with this is the saying,—‘The benevolent has no enemy!’ I beg your Majesty not to doubt [what I said].”
2. When he came out, he said to some persons, “When I looked at him from a distance, he did not appear like a ruler; when I drew near to him, I saw nothing venerable about him. Abruptly he asked me, ‘How can the kingdom, all under the sky, be settled?’
2. “I replied, ‘It will be settled by being united under one [sway].’
3. “ ‘Who can so unite it?’ [he asked].
4. “I replied, ‘He who has no pleasure in killing men can so unite it.’
5. “ ‘Who can give it to him?’ [he asked].
6. “I replied, ‘All under heaven will give it to him. Does your Majesty know the way of the growing grain? During the seventh and eighth months, when drought prevails, the plants become dry. Then the clouds collect densely in the heavens, and send down torrents of rain, so that the grain erects itself as if by a shoot. When it does so, who can keep it back? Now among those who are shepherds of men throughout the kingdom, there is not one who does not find pleasure in killing men. If there were one who did not find pleasure in killing men, all the people under the sky would be looking towards him with outstretched necks. Such being indeed the case, the people would go to him as water flows downwards with a rush, which no one can repress.”
2. Mencius replied, “There were none of the disciples of Chung-ne who spoke about the affairs of Hwan and Wăn, and therefore they have not been transmitted to [these] after-ages; your servant has not heard of them. If you will have me speak, let it be about [the principles of attaining to] the Royal sway.”
3. [The king] said, “Of what kind must his virtue be who can [attain to] the Royal sway?” [Mencius] said, “If he loves and protects the people, it is impossible to prevent him from attaining it.”
4. [The king] said, “Is such an one as poor I competent to love and protect the people?” “Yes,” was the reply. “From what do you know that I am competent to that?” “I have heard,” said [Mencius], “from Hoo Heih the following incident:—‘The king,’ said he, ‘was sitting aloft in the hall, when some people appeared leading a bull past below it. The king saw it, and asked where the bull was going, and being answered that they were going to consecrate a bell with its blood, he said, “Let it go, I cannot bear its frightened appearance as if it were an innocent person going to the place of death.” They asked in reply whether, if they did so, they should omit the consecration of the bell; but [the king] said, “How can that be omitted? Change it for a sheep.” ’ I do not know whether this incident occurred.”
5. “It did,” said [the king], and [Mencius] replied, “The heart seen in this is sufficient to carry you to the Royal sway. The people all supposed that your Majesty grudged [the animal], but your servant knows surely that it was your Majesty’s not being able to bear [the sight of the creature’s distress which made you do as you did].”
6. The king said, “You are right; and yet there really was [an appearance of] what the people imagined. [But] though Ts‘e be narrow and small, how should I grudge a bull? Indeed it was because I could not bear its frightened appearance, as if it were an innocent person going to the place of death, that therefore I changed it for a sheep.”
7. Mencius said, “Let not your Majesty deem it strange that the people should think you grudged the animal. When you changed a large one for a small, how should they know [the true reason]? If you felt pained by its [being led] without any guilt to the place of death, what was there to choose between a bull and a sheep?” The king laughed and said, “What really was my mind in the matter? I did not grudge the value of the bull, and yet I changed it for a sheep! There was reason in the people’s saying that I grudged [the creature].”
8. [Mencius] said, “There is no harm [in their saying so]. It was an artifice of benevolence. You saw the bull, and had not seen the sheep. So is the superior man affected towards animals, that, having seen them alive, he cannot bear to see them die, and, having heard their [dying] cries, he cannot bear to eat their flesh. On this account he keeps away from his stalls and kitchen.”
9. The king was pleased and said, “The Ode says,
This might be spoken of you, my Master. I indeed did the thing, but when I turned my thoughts inward and sought for it, I could not discover my own mind. When you, Master, spoke those words, the movements of compassion began to work in my mind. [But] how is it that this heart has in it what is equal to the attainment of the Royal sway?”
10. [Mencius] said, “Suppose a man were to make this statement to your Majesty, ‘My strength is sufficient to lift three thousand catties, but it is not sufficient to lift one feather; my eyesight is sharp enough to examine the point of an autumn hair, but I do not see a waggon-load of faggots,’ would your Majesty allow what he said?” “No,” was the [king’s] remark, [and Mencius proceeded], “Now here is kindness sufficient to reach to animals, and yet no benefits are extended from it to the people;—how is this? is an exception to be made here? The truth is, the feather’s not being lifted is because the strength was not used; the waggon-load of firewood’s not being seen is because the eyesight was not used; and the people’s not being loved and protected is because the kindness is not used. Therefore your Majesty’s not attaining to the Royal sway is because you do not do it, and not because you are not able to do it.”
11. [The king] asked, “How may the difference between him who does not do [a thing] and him who is not able to do it be graphically set forth?” [Mencius] replied, “In such a thing as taking the T‘ae mountain under your arm, and leaping with it over the North sea, if you say to people, ‘I am not able to do it,’ that is a real case of not being able. In such a matter as breaking off a branch from a tree at the order of a superior, if you say to people, ‘I am not able to do it,’ it is not a case of not being able to do it. And so your Majesty’s not attaining to the Royal sway is not such a case as that of taking the T‘ae mountain under your arm and leaping over the North sea with it; but it is a case like that of breaking off a branch from a tree.
12. “Treat with the reverence due to age the elders in your own family, so that those in the families of others shall be similarly treated; treat with the kindness due to youth the young in your own family, so that those in the families of others shall be similarly treated:—do this and the kingdom may be made to go round in your palm. It is said in the Book of Poetry,
telling us how [King Wăn] simply took this [kindly] heart, and exercised it towards those parties. Therefore the carrying out the [feeling of] kindness [by a ruler] will suffice for the love and protection of all within the four seas; and if he do not carry it out, he will not be able to protect his wife and children. The way in which the ancients came greatly to surpass other men was no other than this, that they carried out well what they did, so as to affect others. Now your kindness is sufficient to reach to animals, and yet no benefits are extended from it to the people. How is this? Is an exception to be made here?
13. “By weighing we know what things are light, and what heavy. By measuring we know what things are long, and what short. All things are so dealt with, and the mind requires specially to be so. I beg your Majesty to measure it.
14. “Your Majesty collects your equipments of war, endangers your soldiers and officers, and excites the resentment of the various princes:—do these things cause you pleasure in your mind?”
15. The king said, “No. How should I derive pleasure from these things? My object in them is to seek for what I greatly desire.”
16. [Mencius] said, “May I hear from you what it is that your Majesty greatly desires?” The king laughed, and did not speak. [Mencius] resumed, “[Are you led to desire it], because you have not enough of rich and sweet [food] for your mouth? or because you have not enough of light and warm [clothing] for your body? or because you have not enow of beautifully coloured objects to satisfy your eyes? or because there are not voices and sounds cnow to fill your ears? or because you have not enow of attendants and favourites to stand before you and receive your orders? Your Majesty’s various officers are sufficient to supply you with all these things. How can your Majesty have such a desire on account of them?” “No,” said the king, “my desire is not on account of them.” [Mencius] observed, “Then, what your Majesty greatly desires can be known. You desire to enlarge your territories, to have Ts‘in and Ts‘oo coming to your court, to rule the Middle States, and to attract to you the barbarous tribes that surround them. But to do what you do in order to seek for what you desire is like climbing a tree to seek for fish.”
17. “Is it so bad as that?” said [the king]. “I apprehend it is worse,” was the reply. “If you climb a tree to seek for fish, although you do not get the fish, you have no subsequent calamity. But if you do what you do in order to seek for what you desire, doing it even with all your heart, you will assuredly afterwards meet with calamities.” The king said, “May I hear [what they will be]?” [Mencius] replied, “If the people of Tsow were fighting with the people of Ts‘oo, which of them does your Majesty think would conquer?” “The people of Ts‘oo would conquer,” was the answer, and [Mencius] pursued, “So then, a small State cannot contend with a great, few cannot contend with many, nor can the weak contend with the strong. The territory within the seas would embrace nine divisions, each of a thousand le square. All Ts‘e together is one of them. If with one part you try to subdue the other eight, what is the difference between that and Tsow’s contending with Ts‘oo? [With the desire which you have], you must turn back to the proper course [for its attainment].
18. “Now if your Majesty will institute a government whose action shall all be benevolent, this will cause all the officers in the kingdom to wish to stand in your Majesty’s court, the farmers all to wish to plough in your Majesty’s fields, the merchants, both travelling and stationary, all to wish to store their goods in your Majesty’s market-places, travellers and visitors all to wish to travel on your Majesty’s roads, and all under heaven who feel aggrieved by their rulers to wish to come and complain to your Majesty When they are so bent, who will be able to keep them back?”
19. The king said, “I am stupid, and cannot advance to this. [But] I wish you, my Master, to assist my intentions. Teach me clearly, and although I am deficient in intelligence and vigour, I should like to try at least [to institute such a government].”
20. [Mencius] replied, “They are only men of education, who, without a certain livelihood, are able to maintain a fixed heart. As to the people, if they have not a certain livelihood, they will be found not to have a fixed heart. And if they have not a fixed heart, there is nothing which they will not do in the way of self-abandonment, of moral deflection, of depravity, and of wild license. When they have thus been involved in crime, to follow them up and punish them, is to entrap the people. How can such a thing as entrapping the people be done under the rule of a benevolent man?
21. “Therefore an intelligent ruler will regulate the livelihood of the people, so as to make sure that, above, they shall have sufficient wherewith to serve their parents, and, below, sufficient wherewith to support their wives and children; that in good years they shall always be abundantly satisfied, and that in bad years they shall not be in danger of perishing. After this he may urge them, and they will proceed to what is good, for in this case the people will follow after that with readiness.
22. “But now, the livelihood of the people is so regulated, that, above, they have not sufficient wherewith to serve their parents, and, below, they have not sufficient where-with to support their wives and children; [even] in good years their lives are always embittered, and in bad years they are in danger of perishing. In such circumstances their only object is to escape from death, and they are afraid they will not succeed in doing so;—what leisure have they to cultivate propriety and righteousness?
23. “If your Majesty wishes to carry out [a benevolent government], why not turn back to what is the essential step [to its attainment]?
24. “Let mulberry-trees be planted about the homesteads with their five acres, and persons of fifty years will be able to wear silk. In keeping fowls, pigs, dogs, and swine, let not their times of breeding be neglected, and persons of seventy years will be able to eat flesh. Let there not be taken away the time that is proper for the cultivation of the field-allotment of a hundred acres, and the family of eight mouths will not suffer from hunger. Let careful attention be paid to the teaching in the various schools, with repeated inculcation of the filial and fraternal duties, and gray-haired men will not be seen upon the roads, carrying burdens on their backs or on their heads. It has never been that [the ruler of a State] where these results were seen, the old wearing silk and eating flesh, and the black-haired people suffering neither from hunger nor cold, did not attain to the Royal dignity.”
[Ch. I. ]Benevolence and Righteousness Mencius’ only topics with the princes of his time; and the only principles which can make a country prosperous.
[Par. 1. ] “King Hwuy of Leang.”—In the time of Confucius, Tsin was one of the great States, perhaps the greatest State, of the kingdom,—but the power of it was usurped by six great families or clans. By bc 452, three of these were absorbed by the other three, the clans, namely, of Wei, Chaou, and Han, which continued to encroach on the small remaining authority of their princes, till at last they divided the whole territory among themselves. King Wei-leeh, in bc 402, granted to the chief of each family the title of Marquis. Wei, called also, from the name of its capital, Lëang, occupied what had been the south-eastern part of Tsin, Han and Chaou lying to the west and north-west of it. The Lëang, where Mencius visited king Hwuy, is said to have been in the present district of Ts‘eang-foo, department K‘ae-fung. Hwuy—“of soft disposition and kind to the people,”—was the posthumous or sacrificial epithet of the king, whose name was Yung. He had usurped the title of king, as the princes of many other States did about the same time, before Mencius visited him, which it is said was in the 35th year of his government, bc 335. The philosopher, it is supposed, visited him on invitation.
[Par. 2. ] Mencius, we have seen, was a native of Tsow in Loo, the name of which still remains in the Tsow district of the department Yen-chow, in Shan-tung. The king in complimentary style calls the distance from Tsow to Lëang a thousand le, though in reality it was not half so much. The “venerable Sir,” with which he salutes the philosopher, should also be taken as complimentary, and we cannot draw any inference from it as to the age of Mencius at this time. The “likewise” has led to much speculation to bring out its meaning. Some think that the king is referring to the many scholars of that age, who made it their business to wander from State to State to counsel the princes, so that his meaning was:—“You also, like other scholars,” &c. Then when Mencius in reply uses the same term, they think that he is referring to the ancient sages as his models:—“I also, like them,” &c. This is too farfetched. I suppose that the king’s “likewise follows the clause “You have come a thousand le,” and means, “That is one favour, but you probably have others to confer also.” Then Mencius’ “likewise” refers to the king’s, and = “You say I likewise have counsels to profit you. What I likewise have is benevolence,” &c.
[Par. 3. ] Benevolence is defined by Choo He as “the virtue of the mind, the principle of love,” and righteousness as “the regulation of the mind, the fitness of things.” Mencius had in mind the benevolent government of which he speaks at length in many places. See especially the 7th chapter of this Part.
[Par. 4. ] By “the kingdom of ten thousand chariots” is meant the royal domain, which, according to the theory of the kingdom, could send into the field 10,000 chariots; and by “the chief of a family of a thousand chariots,” one of the king’s principal ministers, whose territory, which was in the roval domain, was supposed to be able to send forth a thousand chariots. “A State of a thousand chariots” was one of the largest of the feudal States, and “the chief of a family of a hundred chariots” was one of its principal ministers, the head of a powerful clan.
[Par. 5. ] In the “likewise” here Mencius turns the tables on the king. Let him follow the example of the philosopher, confident in the truth of the positions which he had stated.
[Ch. II. ]Rulers must share their pleasures with the people. They can only be happy when they rule over happy subjects.
[Parr. 1, 2. ]Par. 1. must be supplemented as I have done. Mencius would go to the court; and then the king would go with him, or have left orders for him to be brought to the park. Observe the “also” in the king’s question, and the “then” in Mencius’ reply.
[Par. 3. ] Here is an instance of a wise and good prince happy with his happy subjects in his park and tower and pond. See the Book of Poetry, III. i. VIII. The last sentence shows what we are to understand by a prince’s sharing his pleasure with his subjects.
[Par. 4. ] Here is an instance of an oppressive prince, and of his discontented subjects. They were weary of their lives, and would die with him, rather than live on as they were; how could he be happy in such circumstances? See the Shoo, IV. i. 3.
[Ch. III. ]Half measures are of little use. If a prince carry out faithfully the great principles of Royal government, the people will make him king.
[Par. 1. ] A prince was wont to speak of himself as “the small or deficient man,” and so king Hwuy calls himself here. I have translated it by “small as my virtue is, I;” but hereafter I will generally translate the phrase simply by I. “Inside the Ho” and “East of the Ho” were the names of two tracts in Wei. The former remains in the district of Ho-nuy (meaning inside the Ho), in the department of Hwae-k‘ing, Ho-nan. The latter, according to the geographers, should be found in the present Hëae Chow, Shan-se; but this seems too far away from the other.
[Par. 3. ] contains the first principles of Royal government, in contrast with the king’s expedients as detailed by him in par. 1. The seasons of husbandry were spring, summer, and autumn. The government should undertake no military expeditions or public works in them. Close nets would take the small fish, whereas these, if left untouched, would grow and increase. Generally the time to take firewood from the forests was when the growth for the year was over; but there were many regulations on this point.
[Par. 4. ] continues the description of the measures of Royal government to secure plenty for the people. What I translate by “acre” was anciently a space of 100 paces square,—very large paces apparently, of six cubits each, but the cubit was not so long as it is now. The land was marked off in squares of 900 acres, of which we shall read more at length by and by, the middle square containing what was called “the public field,” belonging to the government. The other eight squares were allotted to eight families, each one having 100 acres, which it cultivated for itself, and all uniting in the cultivation of the central or government square. But from this 20 acres were cut off, and assigned in portions of 2½ acres to the farmers, to build their huts on, and cultivate vegetables, &c. The same amount of 2½ acres was assigned to each family in their villages, where they lived in winter when their labours were not required in the fields. Thus each family had five acres where they might build their dwellings and field-huts, and cultivate their kitchen-vegetables: and on this space also they reared their mulberry-trees round their houses and huts. In this way the large portion of the ground was left for grain produce, while they could nourish enow of silk-worms to produce the silk which they required for the use of those who were 50 years of age and over. The saying that persons of 70 years might eat flesh means that they might always have it at their meals, and in no stinted supply. On the schools, see III. Pt I. iii. 10. Education thus completes Mencius’ theory of Royal government, the elements in which were, provision for the maintenance of all, the comfort of the aged, and a moral education and training for the young.
[Par. 5. ] Application to king Hwuy of the above principles. The two first sentences refer to the bad years of his opening remarks. If he took proper advantage of the good years, he would not be obliged to resort to such extreme expedients in bad ones.
[Ch. IV. ]A continuation of the former chapter, and further exposure of the character of king Hwuy’s government.
[Par. 2. ] The “stick” may be a staff or a club, and “the sword” any sharp-edged weapon.
[Par. 4. ] The first sentence is literally—“The stalls have fat flesh,” and by stalls we are to understand the house or houses where cattle were fed for the king’s table. “The fields” are literally—“the wilds;” meaning here the open country, away from the capital, and generally away from cities and towns. The “leading on beasts to devour men” is merely a forcible way of describing the king’s measures, careful for the good condition of his cattle and horses, and so negligent of the well-being of his people.
[Par. 6. ] In high antiquity, it is said, bundles of straw were formed to represent men imperfectly, and then buried with the dead, as attendants upon them. After the rise of the Chow dynasty, wooden figures, with springs in them by which they could move, were used for those bundles; and this, as Confucius thought, led to the practice of burying living persons with the dead, and he branded the inventor of the images as in the text. Mencius thought his words suited his purpose, and used them accordingly. We know that the practice of burying living persons with the dead existed in China in the time of Confucius, and has been practised even in the present dynasty; and the true explanation of it is very different from that suggested by the sage’s words. Chung-ne;—see the Life of Confucius in Volume I.
[Ch. V. ]How a ruler might best make himself strong, and regard with indifference any efforts of his enemies to attack or injure him.
[Par. 1. ] In the note on par. 1, ch. i. I have spoken of the breaking up of the old State of Tsin into the three States of Wei or Lëang, Chaou, and Han. They were often called “the three Tsin;” and here king Hwuy appears to call Wei alone by the name of Tsin. Ts‘e was the most powerful State, at this time styled kingdom, lying north and east from Wei; Ts‘in was on the west of it; and Ts‘oo on the south.
[Par. 2. ] The case which Mencius, probably, had in view here was that of king Wăn, the founder of the Chow dynasty.
[Par. 3. ] Here among the elements of a benevolent government, there appear a gentle rule and light taxation. These being exercised, the people would feel free to give their strength to agriculture, and have leisure to attend to their social and moral duties, and would moreover be ruled by a most powerful gratitude to their ruler. Mencius’ doctrine of the goodness of human nature, though it is not expressed, underlies all this.
[Par. 6. ] The remarkable saying about “the benevolent” has a special reference to a benevolent ruler such as Mencius had sketched; but I have preferred to retain it in the translation without any limitation. The concluding remark was designed to caution the king against regarding the philosopher’s remarks as merely transcendental.
[Ch. VI. ]Disappointment of Mencius with king Sëang of Wei. By what ruler the whole kingdom might be united under one sway.
[Par. 1. ] Sëang was the son of king Hwuy. The first year of his reign is commonly assigned to bc 317; but this cannot be regarded as certain. Seang’s name was Hih. As a posthumous epithet, Seang has various meanings:—“Land-enlarger and Virtuous;” “Successful in arms;” “Successful in the conduct of affairs.” The interview here recorded seems to have taken place immediately after Hih’s accession, and Mencius, it is said, was so disappointed by it that he soon after left the country.
[Par. 5. ] “Who can give it to him?” is by the Chinese critics understood as = “Who can go to him?” I prefer my own meaning, which accords equally well with the scope of the chapter, and is supported by the usage of the original term in V. i. V.
[Ch. VII. ]Loving and protecting the people is the grand characteristic of Royal government; and the sure path to the Royal dignity. How this principle would be manifested.
This long and interesting chapter has been arranged in five parts. In the first part, parr. 1—5, Mencius unfolds the principle of Royal government, and tells the king of Ts‘e that he possessed it. In the second, parr. 6—8, he leads the king on to understand his own mind, and how he might exercise the Royal government. In the third, parr. 9—12, he unfolds how the king might and ought to carry out the kindly heart which was natural to him. In the fourth, parr. 13—18, he shows the absurdity of the king’s expecting to gain his end by the course he was pursuing, and how rapid would be the response to an opposite one. In the last part he shows the government that loves and protects the people in full development, and crowned with Royal sway.
[Par. 1. ] Seuen was the second of the T‘een family who ruled in Ts‘e with the title of king. The date of his accession is not fully ascertained, but it is generally placed in bc 332. His name was P‘eih-këang. The epithet Seuen means—“A skilful questioner and universally informed,” or “Sage, good, and universally informed.” Hwan of Ts‘e and Wăn of Tsin were the greatest of the five presiding princes, who played so conspicuous a part in the Ch‘un Ts‘ëw period, which Confucius has chronicled. From king Seuen’s question, it would appear that he wished to distinguish himself as Hwan had done.
[Par. 2. ] Mencius, no doubt, could have discoursed sufficiently about the affairs of Hwan and Wăn, but he did not wish to do so, and therefore gave this evasive reply. To have a real king was the necessity of his time; but there was more of loyalty in the idea of a presiding prince than in the counsels which our philosopher gave.
[Par. 3. ] “To love and protect the people” lay at the foundation of the “benevolent government” of which Mencius always spoke.
[Par. 4. ] Hoo Heih must have been an officer of the court of Ts‘e. The hall here mentioned was probably that where the king was giving audience to his ministers. In the court below the hall, the parties would appear leading the bull past. When a bell was cast they killed an animal, and with its blood smeared over the crevices. But the act was a religious one, and a consecration of the bell for religious or other important use. Almost all things connected with their worship were among the ancient Chinese purified with blood,—their temples and the vessels used in them.
[Par. 5. ] Mencius would thus bring home to the king the conviction that benevolence was natural to him. He often reasons on the constitution of human nature as he does here. He pursues the subject in the parr. of the second part of the chapter.
[Par. 7. ] The king here is nonplussed, and hardly knows what was his own mind in the matter; but in par. 8 Mencius relieves him from his perplexity.
[Par. 9. ] See the She, II. v. Ode IV. 4.
[Parr. 10, 11, ] contain the famous distinction of physical and moral ability; and I like Mencius’ way of putting it. The case of a thing that might easily be done, and yet is not done, is very differently understood. I have followed Choo He in taking the terms in what is their natural meaning,—“breaking off the branch of a tree.” Ch‘aou Ke understood them as meaning “the rubbing or manipulating the elbow or any other joint of the arm;”—a service which was often required from servants by their masters. Maou K‘e-ling and others cry out against Choo’s interpretation, showing thereby, it seems to me, only their own want of the critical faculty.
[Par. 12. ] Compare with the opening sentence what is said in “The Great Learning,” Comm., Chapters ix, and x. The Ode quoted is the She, III. 1. VI.
[14. ] In Parr. 14—18, Mencius measures or weighs the king’s mind for him, and shows the object he is bent on, with the absurdity of seeking for it by the course which he pursued, and also how rapid would be the response to a different course. All the people in the kingdom, high and low, would wish to be his subjects.
[Par. 20, ] brings in the subjects of “a fixed heart,” or a mind always firm to do what is good, and of “a certain livehood,” or a sure provision of the necessaries of life, and of the necessity of the latter to the former. We shall meet with these topics in Mencius again and again.
[Par. 23. ] “The essential step to a benevolent government” is the sure provision of the necessaries of life, and the elements of moral instruction.
[Par. 24. ] Compare par. 4 of ch. iii. The two are nearly identical.