Front Page Titles (by Subject) KUNG-SUN CH'OW. PART I. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius
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KUNG-SUN CH‘OW. 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
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KUNG-SUN CH‘OW. PART I.
ChapterI.1. Kung-sun Ch‘ow said, “Master, if you were to obtain the ordering of the government in Ts‘e, could you promise yourself the accomplishment of such successful results as were realized by Kwan Chung and the minister Gan?”
2. Mencius said, “You, Sir, are indeed a [true] man of Ts‘e. You know about Kwan Chung and the minister Gan, and nothing more.
3. “One asked Tsăng Se, saying, ‘To which, my [good] Sir, do you give the superiority,—to yourself or to Tsze-loo?’ Tsang Se looked uneasy, and said, ‘He was an object of veneration to my grandfather.’ ‘Then,’ pursued the man, ‘do you give the superiority to yourself, or to Kwan Chung?’ Tsăng Se flushed with anger, was displeased, and said, ‘How do you compare me to Kwan Chung? Considering how entirely he possessed [the confidence of] his ruler, how long he had the direction of the government of the State, and how low [after all] was what he accomplished, how is it that you compare me to him?’
4. “Thus,” added Mencius, “Tsăng Se would not play Kwan Chung, and is it what you desire for me, that I should do so?”
5. [Kung-sun Ch‘ow] said, “Kwan Chung raised his ruler to be the leader of all the other princes, and the minister Gan made his ruler illustrious; and do you still think that it would not be enough for you to do what they did?”
6. “To raise [the ruler of] Ts‘e to the Royal dignity would [simply] be like turning round the hand,” was the reply.
7. “So!” returned the other. “The perplexity of your disciple is hereby very much increased! And there was king Wăn, with all the virtue which belonged to him, and who did not die till he had reached a hundred years; yet his influence had not penetrated to all under heaven. It required king Woo and the duke of Chow to continue his course, before that influence greatly prevailed. And now you say that the Royal dignity may be so easily obtained:—is king Wăn then not worthy to be imitated?”
8. [Mencius] said, “How can king Wăn be matched? From T‘ang to Woo-ting there had arisen six or seven worthy and sage sovereigns; all under heaven had been long attached to Yin. The length of time made a change difficult, and Woo-ting gave audience to all the princes and possessed the whole kingdom, as if it had been a thing which he turned round in his palm. [Then] Chow was removed from Woo-ting by no great interval of time. There were still remaining some of the ancient families, and of the old manners, of the influence which had emanated [from the earlier sovereigns], and of their good government. Moreover, there were the viscount of Wei and his second son, his Royal Highness Pe-kan, the viscount of Ke, and Kaou Kih, all men of ability and virtue, who gave their joint assistance to Chow [in his government]. In consequence of these things it took him a long time to lose the kingdom. There was not a foot of ground which he did not possess; there was not one of all the people who was not his subject. So it was on his side, while king Wăn made his beginning from a territory of [only] a hundred square le, and therefore it was difficult for him [immediately to attain to the Royal dignity].
9. “The people of Ts‘e have the saying, ‘A man may have wisdom and discernment, but that is not like embracing the favourable opportunity; a man may have [good] hoes, but that is not like waiting for the [favourable] seasons.’ The present time is one in which [the Royal dignity] may be easily attained.
10. “In the flourishing periods of the sovereigns of Hëa, of Yin, and of Chow, the [Royal] territory did not exceed a thousand le and Ts‘e embraces as much. Cocks crow and dogs bark to one another all the way to its four borders, so that Ts‘e also possesses the [requisite number of] people. No change is needed for the enlargement of its territory, nor for the collecting of a population. If [its ruler] will put in practice a benevolent government, no power can prevent his attaining to the Royal sway.
11. “Moreover, never was there a time farther removed than this from the appearance of a true king; never was there a time when the sufferings of the people from oppressive government were more intense than this. The hungry are easily supplied with food, and the thirsty with drink.
12. “Confucius said, ‘The flowing progress of virtue is more rapid than the transmission of orders by stages and couriers.’
13. “At the present time, in a country of ten thousand chariots, let a benevolent government be exercised, and the people will be delighted with it, as if they were relieved from hanging by the heels. With half the merit of the ancients, double their achievement is sure to be realized. It is only at this time that such could be the case.”
II.1. Kung-sun Ch‘ow asked [Mencius], saying, “Master, if you were to be appointed a high noble and prime minister of Ts‘e, so as to carry your principles into practice, though you should thereupon [raise the ruler to] be head of all the other princes or [even] to be king, it would not be to be wondered at; but in such a position would your mind be perturbed or not?” Mencius replied, “No. At forty I attained to an unperturbed mind.”
2. [Chow] said, “Then, Master, you are far beyond Măng Pun.” “[The mere attainment of] that,” said [Mencius], “is not difficult. The scholar Kaou attained to an unperturbed mind at an earlier period of life than I did.”
3. “Is there any [proper] way to an unperturbed mind?” asked [Chow]; and the reply was, “Yes.
4. “Pih-kung Yew had this way of nourishing his valour:—His flesh did not shrink [from a wound], and his eyes did not turn aside [from any thrusts at them]. He considered that to submit to have a hair pulled out by any one was as great [a disgrace] as to be beaten in the market-place, and that what he would not receive from [a common man in his] loose garments of hair-cloth, neither should he receive from the ruler of ten thousand chariots. He viewed stabbing the ruler of ten thousand chariots just as stabbing a fellow in cloth of hair. He feared not any of the princes. A bad word addressed to him he always returned.
5. “The valour which Măng She-shay nourished spoke on this wise:—‘I look upon conquering and not conquering in the same way. To measure the enemy and then advance; to calculate the chances of victory and then engage:—this is to stand in awe of the opposing force. How can I make certain of conquering? I can only rise superior to all fear.’
6. “Măng She-shay resembled the philosopher Tsăng, and Pih-kung Yëw resembled Tsze-hëa. I do not know to the valour of which the superiority should be ascribed; but Măng She-shay attended to what was of the greater importance.
7. “Formerly, the philosopher Tsăng said to Tsze-seang, ‘Do you love valour? I heard an account of great valour from the Master, [who said that it speaks thus]:—“If on self-examination I find that I am not upright, shall I not be afraid of [a common man in his] loose garments of haircloth; if on self-examination I find that I am upright, I will go forward against thousands and tens of thousands.” ’
8. “What Măng She-shay maintained, however, was his physical energy merely, and was not equal to what the philosopher Tsăng maintained, which was [indeed] of the greater importance.”
9. [Ch‘ow] said, “May I venture to ask [the difference between] your unperturbed mind, Master, and that of the scholar Kaou?” [Mencius] answered, “Kaou says, ‘What you do not find in words, do not seek for in your mind; what you do not find in your mind, do not seek for by passion-effort.’ [This last]—not to seek by passion-effort for what you do not find in your mind—may be conceded; but not to seek in your mind for what you do not find in words ought not to be conceded. For the will is the leader of the passionnature; and the passion-nature pervades and animates the body. The will is [first and] chief, and the passion-nature is subordinate to it. Therefore [I] say, Maintain firm the will, and do no violence to the passion-nature.
10. [Ch‘ow observed], “Since you say that the will is chief and the passion-nature subordinate to it, how do you also say, Maintain firm the will, and do no violence to the passion-nature?” The reply was, “When the will is exclusively active, then it moves the passion-nature; and when the passion-nature is exclusively active, it moves the will. For instance now, the case of a man falling or running is an exertion of his passion-nature, and yet it moves his mind.”
11. “I venture to ask” [said Ch‘ow again], “wherein you, Master, have the superiority.” [Mencius] said, “I understand words. I am skilful in nourishing my vast, flowing, passion-nature.”
12. [Ch‘ow pursued,] “I venture to ask what you mean by your vast, flowing, passion-nature.” The reply was, “It is difficult to describe it.
13. “This is the passion-nature:—It is exceedingly great, and exceedingly strong. Being nourished by rectitude and sustaining no injury, it fills up all between heaven and earth.
14. “This is the passion-nature:—It is the mate and assistant of righteousness and reason. Without this [man’s nature] is in a state of starvation.
15. “It is produced by the accumulation of righteous deeds, and cannot be attained by incidental acts of righteousness. If the mind do not feel complacency in the conduct, [the nature becomes] starved. Hence it is that I say that Kaou has never understood righteousness, because he makes it something external.
16. “There must be the [constant] practice [of righteousness], but without the object [of thereby nourishing the passion-nature]. Let not the mind forget [its work], but let there be no assisting the growth. Let us not be like the man of Sung. There was a man at Sung who was grieved that his growing corn was not longer, and so he pulled it up. He then returned home, looking very stupid, and said to his people, ‘I am very tired to-day; I have been helping the corn to grow long.’ His son ran to look at it, and found the corn all withered. There are few people in the world who [do not deal with their passion-nature as if they] were thus assisting their corn to grow long. Some indeed consider it of no benefit to them, and neglect it;—they do not weed their corn. They who assist it to grow long pull out their corn. [What they do is] not only of no benefit [to the nature], but it also injures it.”
17. [Kung-sun Ch‘ow further asked,] “What do you mean by saying that you understand words?” [Mencius] replied, “When speeches are one-sided, I know how [the mind of the speaker] is clouded over; when they are extravagant, I know wherein [the mind] is snared; when they are all-depraved, I know how [the mind] has departed [from principle]; when they are evasive, I know how [the mind] is at its [wit’s] end. [These evils], growing in the mind, injure the [principles of the] government, and, displayed in the government, are hurtful to the conduct of affairs. When a sage shall again arise, he will certainly agree with [these] my words.”
18. On this Ch‘ow observed, “Tsae Wo and Tsze-kung were clever in making speeches; Jen New, the disciple Min, and Yen Yuen, while their words were good, were distinguished for their virtuous conduct. Confucius united both the qualities, [but still he] said, ‘In the matter of speeches I am not competent.’—Then, Master, have you attained to be a sage?”
19. [Mencius] replied, “Oh! what words are these? Formerly Tsze-kung asked Confucius, saying, ‘Master, are you a sage?’ and was answered, ‘To be a sage is what I cannot [claim]; but I learn without satiety, and teach without being tired.’ Tsze-kung rejoined, ‘You learn without satiety;—that shows your wisdom. You teach without being tired;—that shows your benevolence. Benevolent and wise:—Master, you are a sage.’ Now, since Confucius would not accept the position of a sage, what words were those [you spake about me]?”
20. [Ch‘ow said], “Formerly, it seems to me, I have heard that Tsze-hea, Tsze-yëw, and Tsze-chang had each one member of a sage, and that Jen New, the disciple Min, and Yen Yuen had all the members, but in small proportions. I venture to ask with which of these you are pleased to rank yourself.”
21. [Mencius] replied, “Let us drop [speaking about] these if you please.”
22. [Ch‘ow then] asked, “What do you say of Pih-e and E Yin?” “Their ways,” said [Mencius], “were different [from mine]. Not to serve a prince nor employ a people whom he did not approve; in a time of good government to take office, and in a time of disorder to retire;—this was [the way of] Pih-e. [To say], ‘Whom may I not serve as my ruler? Whom may I not employ as my people?’ In a time of good government to take office, and in a time of disorder to do the same:—this was [the way of] E Yin. When it was proper to go into office, then to go into office, and when it was proper to keep aloof from office, then to keep aloof; when it was proper to continue in it long, then to do so, and when it was proper to withdraw from it quickly, then so to withdraw:—that was [the way of] Confucius. These were all sages of antiquity, and I have not attained to do what they did; but what I wish to do is to learn to be like Confucius.”
23. [Ch‘ow] said, “Comparing Pih-e and E Yin with Confucius, are they to be placed in the same rank with him?” The reply was, “No. Since there were living men until now, there never was [another] Confucius.”
24. “Then,” said [Ch‘ow], “did they have any points of agreement [with him]?” “Yes,” said [Mencius]; “if they had been rulers over a hundred le of territory, they would all of them have brought all the feudal princes to attend at their court, and would have possessed all under the sky And none of them, to obtain that, would have committed one act of unrighteousness, or put to death one innocent person. In these points they agreed with him.”
25. [Ch‘ow] said, “I venture to ask wherein he differed from them.” [Mencius] replied, “Tsae Wo, Tsze-kung, and Yew Joh had wisdom sufficient to know the sage. [Even if we rank them] low, they would not have demeaned themselves to flatter their favourite.
26. “Tsae Wo said, ‘According to my view of the Master, he is far superior to Yaou and Shun.’
27. “Tsze-kung said, ‘By viewing the ceremonial ordinances [of a ruler] we know [the character of] his government; and by hearing his music we know [that of] his virtue. Along the distance of a hundred ages, I can arrange, [according to their merits], the line of their kings, so that not one can escape me; and from the birth of mankind downwards there has not been [another like our] Master.’
28. “Yew Joh said, ‘Is it only among men that it is so? There is the k‘e-lin among quadrupeds, the phœnix among birds, the T‘ae mountain among ant-hills, the Ho and the sea among rain-pools. [Though different in degree], they are the same in kind. And so the sages among mankind are the same in kind. But they stand out from their fellows, and rise up above the crowd; and from the birth of mankind till now there never has been one so complete as Confucius.’ ”
III.1. Mencius said, “He who, using force, makes a pretence to benevolence becomes the leader of the princes, and he must be possessed of a large State. He who, using virtue, practises benevolence becomes the king, and he need not wait till he has a large State. T‘ang did it with [only] seventy le, and king Wan with [only] a hundred le.
2. “When one by force subdues men they do not submit to him in heart, but because their strength is not adequate [to resist]. When one subdues men by virtue, in their hearts’ core they are pleased, and sincerely submit, as was the case with the seventy disciples in their submission to Confucius. What is said in the Book of Poetry,
is an illustration of this.”
IV.1. Mencius said, “Benevolence brings glory, and the opposite of it brings disgrace. For [the rulers of] the present day to hate disgrace, and yet live complacently doing what is not benevolent, is like hating moisture and yet living in a low situation.
2. “If [a ruler] hates disgrace, his best course is to esteem virtue and honour [virtuous] scholars, giving the worthiest of them places [of dignity] and the able offices [of trust]. When throughout the State there is leisure and rest [from external troubles], taking advantage of such a season, let him clearly digest the measures of his government with their penal sanctions, and even great States will stand in awe of him.
3. “It is said in the Book of Poetry,
“Confucius said, ‘Did not he who made this ode understand the way [of governing]?’ Who will dare to insult him who is able rightly to govern his State?
4. “[But] now [the rulers] take advantage of the time when throughout their States there is leisure and rest [from external troubles] to abandon themselves to pleasure and indolent indifference,—thus seeking calamities for themselves.
5. “Calamity and happiness are in all cases men’s own seeking.
6. “This is illustrated by what is said in the Book of Poetry,
and by the passage of the T‘ae-keah, ‘Calamities sent by Heaven may be avoided, but when we bring on the calamities ourselves, it is not possible to live.’ ”
V.1. Mencius said, “If [a ruler] give honour to men of talents and virtue and employ the able, so that offices shall all be filled by individuals of the highest distinction, then all the scholars of the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to stand in his court.
2. “If in the market-places he levy a ground-rent on the shops but do not tax the goods, or enforce the [proper] regulations without levying a ground-rent, then all traders of the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to store their goods in his market-places.
3. “If at the frontier-gates there be an inspection of the persons, but no charges levied, then all the travellers of the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to be found on his roads.
4. “If the husbandmen be required to give their material aid [in cultivating the public field], and no levies be made [of the produce of their own], then all the farmers in the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to plough in his fields.
5. “If from the [occupiers of the] people’s dwellings he do not exact the cloth required from the individual [idler] or the quota for residences, then all the people in the kingdom will be pleased, and wish to be his people.
6. “If [a ruler] can truly practise these five things, then the people of neighbouring States will look up to him as a parent. From the first birth of mankind until now never has any one led children to attack their parents, and succeeded in his enterprise. Such [a ruler] will not have an enemy under the sky, and he who has no enemy under the sky is the minister of Heaven. Never has there been such a case where [the ruler] did not attain to the royal dignity.”
2. “The ancient kings had this commiserating mind, and they had likewise, as a matter of course, a commiserating government. When with a commiserating mind there was practised a commiserating government, to bring all under heaven to order was [as easy] as to make [a small thing] go round in the palm.
3. “The ground on which I say that all men have a mind which cannot bear [to see the suffering of] others is this:—Even now-a-days, when men suddenly see a child about to fall into a well, they will all experience a feeling of alarm and distress. They will feel so not that they may thereon gain the favour of the child’s parents; nor that they may seek the praise of their neighbours and friends; nor from a dislike to the reputation of [being unmoved by] such a thing.
4. “Looking at the matter from this case, [we may see that] to be without this feeling of distress is not human, and that it is not human to be without the feeling of shame and dislike, or to be without the feeling of modesty and complaisance, or to be without the feeling of approving and disapproving.
5. “That feeling of distress is the principle of benevolence; the feeling of shame and dislike is the principle of righteousness; the feeling of modesty and complaisance is the principle of propriety; and the feeling of approving and disapproving is the principle of knowledge.
6. “Men have these four principles just as they have their four limbs. When men, having these four principles, yet say of themselves that they cannot [manifest them], they play the thief with themselves; and he who says of his ruler that he cannot [manifest them], plays the thief with his ruler.
7. “Since we all have the four principles in ourselves, let us know to give them all their development and completion, and the issue will be like that of a fire which has begun to burn, or of a spring which has begun to find vent. Let them have their full development, and they will suffice to love and protect all [within] the four seas; let them be denied that development, and they will not suffice for a man to serve his parents with.”
VII.1. Mencius said, “Is the arrow-maker [naturally] more wanting in benevolence than the maker of mail? [And yet], the arrow-maker’s only fear is lest [his arrows] should not wound men, and the fear of the maker of mail is lest men should be wounded. So it is as between the priest and the coffin-maker. [The choice of] a profession therefore is a thing in which it is very necessary to be careful.
2. “Confucius said, ‘The excellence of a neighbourhood consists in its virtuous manners. If a man, in selecting a residence, do not fix on one where such prevail, how can he be wise?’ Now benevolence belongs to the most honourable nobility of Heaven, and is the quiet home where man should dwell. Since no one can hinder us from being so, if we are not benevolent, this shows our want of wisdom.
3. “He who is [thus] neither benevolent nor wise will be without propriety and righteousness, and must be the servant of [other] men. To be the servant of men and yet ashamed of such servitude is like a bow-maker’s being ashamed to make bows, or an arrow-maker’s being ashamed to make arrows.
4. “If [a man] be ashamed of being in such a case, his best course is to practise benevolence.
5. “He who [would be] benevolent is like the archer. The archer adjusts himself, and then shoots. If he shoot and do not hit, he does not murmur against those who surpass himself:—he simply turns round, and seeks the [cause of failure] in himself.”
2. “When Yu heard good words, he bowed [to the speaker].
3. “The great Shun had a [still] greater [quality]:—he regarded goodness as the common property of himself and others, giving up his own way to follow others, and delighting to copy [the example of] others,—in order to practise what was good.
4. “From the time that he ploughed and sowed, exercised the potter’s art and was a fisherman, to that when he was emperor, he was always learning from others.
5. “To take example from others to practise what is good is to help men in the same practice. Therefore there is no attribute of the superior man greater than his helping men to practise what is good.”
IX.1. Mencius said, “Pih-e would not serve a ruler whom he did not approve, nor be friendly with any one whom he did not esteem. He would not stand in the court of a bad man, nor speak with a bad man. To stand in a bad man’s court, or to speak with a bad man, would have been in his estimation the same as to stand with his court robes and court cap amid mire and charcoal. Pursuing our examination of his dislike to what was evil, [we find] that he thought it necessary, if he were standing with a villager whose cap was not rightly adjusted, to leave him with a high air as if he were going to be defiled. Hence it was, that, though some of the princes made application to him with very proper messages, he would not accept [their invitations]. That refusal to accept [their invitations] was because he counted it inconsistent with his purity to go to them.
2. “Hwuy of Lëw-hëa was not ashamed [to serve] an impure ruler, nor did he think it low to be in a small office. When called to employment, he did not keep his talents and virtue concealed, but made it a point to carry out his principles. When neglected and left out of office, he did not murmur; and when straitened by poverty, he did not grieve. Accordingly, he would say, ‘You are you, and I am I. Although you stand by my side with bare arms and breast, how can you defile me?’ In this way, self-possessed, he associated with men indifferently, and did not feel that he lost himself. If pressed to remain in office, he would remain. He would remain in office when so pressed, because he did not feel that his purity required him to go away.”
3. Mencius said, “Pih-e was narrow-minded, and Hwuy of Lëw-hëa was wanting in self-respect. The superior man will not follow either narrow-mindedness or the want of self-respect.”
[Ch. I. ]While Mencius wished to see a true royal government, and could easily have realized it had he been in office, so that the king of Ts‘e would soon have become sovereign of the whole kingdom from the peculiar circumstances of the time, he would not have had recourse to any ways inconsistent with its idea.
[Par. 1. ] It appears from par. 2 that Kung-sun Ch‘ow was a native of Ts‘e. He must have been a cadet of the old ducal family. The sons of the feudal princes were styled Kung-tsze, and their sons again Kung-sun, “ducal grandsons.” Those two characters might become the surname of their descendants, who mingled with the undistinguished masses of the people. Kwan Chung,—see on Ana. III. xxii.; et al. He was the chief minister of duke Hwan, the famous leader of all the feudal princes. The minister Gan,—see on Ana. V. xvi.; et al. He was mentioned above in Book I ii. IV.
[Par. 3. ] Tsăng Se was, according to some, the son, according to others, the grandson of Tsăng Sin, one of Confucius’ most famous disciples. With Sin and with Tsze-loo the readers of the Analects must be familiar.
[Par. 6. ] Here Mencius states his thesis, according to his fashion, in the broadest and most unlimited manner;—giving him the opportunity to explain and vindicate it as he does below.
[Par. 7. ] King Wăn died at the age of 97;—Ch‘ow uses the round number 100. According to the representations of Chinese writers two-thirds of the kingdom then acknowledged his supremacy. His son king Woo continued his work, and overthrew the dynasty of Shang, while another son, the duke of Chow, regulated the constitution and all the ceremonies of the new dynasty and then the principles of Wăn received their full development.
[Par. 8. ] From T‘ang to Woo-ting there were altogether 18 sovereigns, or, according to the Bamboo Annals, 20, exclusive of themselves; and from Woo-ting to Chow there were seven. In the former period T‘ae-këah, T‘ae-mow, Ts‘oo-yih, and Pwan-kăng are specified as “worthy and sage,” in addition to T‘ang and Woo-ting. From Woo-ting to Chow there elapsed about a century and a quarter. The viscount of Wei was an elder brother of Chow, and many say by the same mother, but she was not queen, but only a member of the harem, when he was born. Some critics will have it that the next faithful adherent of Chow who is mentioned was the viscount’s brother and not his son. The viscount of Ke was a king’s son as well as Pe-kan. They were both, probably, uncles of Chow. Kaou Kih did not belong to the royal House of Shang, but was a faithful adherent of it.
[Par. 9. ] Ability and instruments are good; but there must also be the favourable opportunity.
[Ch. II. ]That Mencius had attained to an unperturbed mind; that the means by which he had done so, was his knowledge of words, and the nourishment of his passion-nature; and that Confucius was the great object of his imitation, for there never had been another man who could be regarded as his equal. The chapter is divided into four parts, the first, parr. 1—8, showing generally that there are various ways to attain an unperturbed mind: the second, parr. 9, 10, exposing the error of the way taken by the philosopher Kaou; the third, parr 11—17, unfolding Mencius’ own way., and the fourth, parr. 18—28, showing that Mencius followed Confucius, and praising that sage as the first of mortals. It is in a great measure owing to what Mencius says in this chapter about the nourishment of the passion-nature that a place has been accorded to him among the sages of China, or in immediate proximity to them. His views are substantially these.—Man’s nature is composite. He possesses moral and intellectual powers (comprehended under the terms “heart” and “mind,” interchanged with “will”), and active powers (summed up under the term k‘e, and embracing the emotions, desires, and appetites). The moral and intellectual powers should be supreme and govern, but there is a close connexion between them and the others which give effect to them. The active powers should not be stunted, for then the whole character will be feeble. But on the other hand they must not be allowed to take the lead. They must get their tone from the mind, and the way to develope them in all their completeness is to do good. Let them be vigorous, and the mind clear and pure, and we shall have the man whom nothing external to himself can perturb,—Horace’s justum et tenacem propositi virum. In brief, if we take the sanum corpus of the Roman adage as not expressing merely the physical body, but the whole physical and emotional nature, what Mencius exhibits here may be said to be “mens sana in corpore sano.”
The attentive reader will find the above thoughts dispersed through this chapter, and be able to separate them from the irrelevant matter—that especially relating to Confucius—with which they are set forth.
[Par. 1. ] The questioner here is the same who discourses with our philosopher in the preceding chapter;—see there on par. 1. The one chapter may indeed be considered as the sequel of the other. The disciple allows that the master could achieve what he had asserted, and asks whether the being placed in a position to do so would disturb his mind.
It was a maxim with the ancient Chinese that a man was in his greatest vigour at 40, and able to encounter all the difficulties of official service; see the Le Ke, I. Pt I. i. 27. Compare Confucius’ account of himself in Ana. II. iv.
[Par. 2. ] Măng Pun was a celebrated bravo, probably of Ts‘e, of whom various feats of strength and daring are recorded. The scholar Kaou is probably the same who gives name to the sixth Book of Mencius, which see.
[Par. 4. ] Pih-kung Yew belonged, probably, to the State of Wei, and was a cadet of one of the principal clans in it, sprung from the ruling House. There was, however, a clan also in Ts‘e with the surname of Pih-kung. Yew evidently was a bold and reckless fellow.
[Par. 5. ] Of Măng She-shay we know nothing but what we are told here. He was evidently a bold and fearless man.
[Par. 6. ] Pih-kung Yëw thought of others, and was determined to conquer, if he could; Măng She-shay thought only of himself, and allowed no fear to enter his mind. It is on this account that Mencius gives Măng the preference. The basis of the reference to the two disciples of Confucius was the commonly received idea of their several characters. Tsăng (see on Ana. I. iv.) was reflective, and dealt with himself, Tsze-hea was learned and ambitious, and would not be inferior to others.
[Par. 7. ] Tsze-seăng was a disciple of Tsăng. The sentiment of Confucius is the same as that of Solomon, with a characteristic difference of expression.—“The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
[Par. 8. ] Here we first meet with the character k‘e, so important in this chapter. Originally it was the same in form as another meaning “cloudy vapour.” With the addition of the character for “rice,” or that for “fire,” it should indicate “steam of rice,” or “steam” generally. The sense in which Mencius uses it is indicated in the translation and in the preliminary note That sense springs from its being used as correlate to sin, “the mind,” taken in connexion with the idea of “energy” inherent in it from its composition. Thus it signifies the lower but active portion of man’s constitution: and in this paragraph, that lower part in its lowest sense,—animal vigour or courage.
[Par. 9. ] Kaou’s principle seems to have been this,—indifference to everything external and entire passivity of mind. Modern writers are fond of saying that in his words are to be found the essence of Buddhism, and that his aim was to obtain a sort of Buddhistic nirvana; and perhaps this helps us to a glimpse at his meaning, which is far from being evident. Mencius’ concession of the second of his instructions is not to be understood as an approval of it, but simply that he did not consider it so objectionable as the other; and he goes on to show wherein he considered it to be defective.
[Par. 10. ] Ch‘ow did not understand what his master had said about the relation between the mind and the passion-nature: and as the latter was subordinate, he would have had it disregarded altogether. Hence his question; but Mencius shows that the passion-nature is really a part of our constitution, acts upon the mind, and is acted on by it, and ought not to be disregarded.
[Parr. 11—16. ] There is much vain babbling in the Chinese commentators about “the vast, flowing, passion-nature,” to show how the k‘e of heaven and earth is the k‘e also of man. Mencius, it seems to me, has before his mind the idea of a perfect man, complete in all the parts of his constitution; and it is this which gives its elevation to his language. There is much that is good and important in what he says. A course of righteous action, where the character is at all heroical, as that of Mencius was, produces a wonderful boldness and vigour of character. While a bad conscience makes men cowards, a good conscience operates as effectually in the contrary direction.
[Par. 17. ] With regard to the first ground of Mencius’ superiority over Kaou.—his “knowledge of words,” as he is briefer than on the other, so, to my mind, he is less satisfactory. Perhaps he meant to say that, however great the dignity to which he might be raised, his knowledge of words and ability to refer incorrect and injurious speeches to the mental defects from which they sprang would keep him from being deluded, and preserve his mind unperturbed. One of the scholars, Ch‘ing, uses this illustration:—“Mencius, with his knowledge of words was like a man seated in a hall, who can distinguish all the movements of the people below it, which he could not do if it were necessary for him to descend and mingle with the crowd.”
The concluding remark gives rise to the rest of the chapter, it seeming to Ch‘ow that Mencius placed himself by it on the platform of sages.
[Par. 18. ] Compare Ana. XI. ii. 2, to the enumeration in which of the excellencies of several of Confucius’ disciples there seems to be here a reference. But the point of Ch‘ow’s question lies in the remark of the sage about himself, found nowhere else, and obscure enough. He thinks that Mencius is taking more upon himself than Confucius did.
[Parr. 19—21. ] Mencius disclaims being regarded as a sage: but does he indicate that he thought himself superior to all the disciples of Confucius mentioned by Ch‘ow,—even to Yen Yuen? Hardly so much as that; but that he would not be content with them as his model.
[Parr. 22—24. ] Pih-e,—see on Ana. V. xxii. E. Yin,—see my note on the title of Book IV. Part IV. of the Shoo. Mencius discourses fully on both these ancient worthies in V. ii. I., et al. The different ways of them and of Confucius have been thus expressed:—“The principle of Pih-e was to keep himself pure; that of E Yin, to take office; and that of Confucius, to do what the time required.” But while thus differing, they would equally keep aloof from whatever was unrighteous, however they might be tempted.
[Par. 25. ] Yew Joh,—see on Ana. I. ii. With parr. 26—28 compare the eulogium of Confucius in the Doctrine of the Mean, chh. xxx.—xxxii., and also Ana. XIX. chh. xxiii.—xxv. It is in vain the western reader tries to quicken himself to any corresponding appreciation of the sage. We look for the being whom his disciples describe as vainly as we do for the fabulous k‘e-lin and phœnix, to which they compare him. The k‘e is properly the male, and the lin the female of the animal referred to,—a monster with a deer’s body, an ox’s tail, and a horse’s feet, &c., which appears to greet the birth of a sage, or the reign of a sage sovereign. So in fung-hwang, which I have rendered phœnix, the names of the male and female are put together to denote one individual of either sex. In the words “rise up above the crowd,” the image is that of stalks of grass or grain, shooting high above the level of the waving field.
[Ch. III. ]The difference between a leader of the princes and a true sovereign arises from submission constrainrd by force and that accorded to virtue and benevolence.
[Par. 1. ] T‘ang was the founder of the Shang dynasty, as king Wăn was of that of Chow. The size of their States is that of their hereditary possessions; though we know that those of the House of Chow had increased very largely before the final struggle between it and that of Shang, conducted by king Woo, the son of Wăn.
[Par. 2. ] “The seventy disciples” is a round number. See on the disciples of Confucius in the Prolegomena to vol. i. of my larger Work. The ode from which the quotation is made is the last of the first Book of the third Part of the She, celebrating the kings Wăn and Woo. The lines quoted refer specially to Woo. Tsow Haou, a statesman and scholar of the 11th century, says on this chapter:—“He who subdues men by force has the intention of subduing them, and they dare not but submit. He who subdues them by virtue has no intention to subdue them, and they cannot but submit. From antiquity downwards there have been many dissertations on the leader of the princes and the true sovereign, but none so deep, incisive, and perspicuous as this chapter.”
[Ch. IV. ]The inconsistency of a ruler’s seeking to be great and glorious by any other course but that of benevolence. Calamity and happiness are men’s own seeking.
[Par. 1. ] “Glory” here is not only the glory of reputation, but specially that of success and high position.
[Par. 2. ] Compare with this the 20th chapter of the “Doctrine of the Mean.”
[Par. 3. ] See the She, Pt I. xv. Ode II., where the duke of Chow personating a small bird addressing an owl, vindicates the vigour of his measures in suppressing rebellion. Mencius adduces the stanza, with the moral of it as expounded by Confucius, to show how a ruler should strengthen himself by vigorous and precautionary measures.
[Parr. 4—6. ] Par. 4. shows how the rulers of his time took no such measures, but pursued a thoughtless, reckless course of an opposite tendency. For the poetry quoted in par. 6. see the She, III. i. Ode I.; and for the passage from the T‘ae-këah, see the Shoo, IV. v., Pt ii. 3.
[Ch. V. ]Five points of true royal government, the practice of which would have carried any of the princes of Mencius’ time to the throne of the whole kingdom on the tide of universal popularity.
[Par. 1. ] Compare the first part of par. 2. in the previous chapter. The point described here would have brought all the scholars, or the official class, of the different States to the court of the ruler who practised it.
[Par. 2. ] describes the second point which would have attracted all the traders and men of business from the four quarters. According to Choo He, the capitals and large cities in those ancient times were laid out after the fashion of the division of the land in portions of nine equal squares as in the figure , where the central square contained the fields of the State. The central square in the cities contained the palace and buildings connected with it; that in front of it, the ancestral and other temples, the government treasuries, arsenals, &c.; that behind it was the market-place, or place of business; and the three squares on each side were occupied by the dwellings of the people. He adds that when traders became too many, a ground-rent was levied on their stances or shops; and that when they were few, it was remitted, and only a surveillance of the markets was exercised by the proper officers. That surveillance consisted in the inspection of weights and measures, regulation of prices, &c. This view seems to give us a satisfactory meaning for this paragraph. Chaou K‘e understands the second clause in it of the tithe of the produce of the ground; but it is foreign to the object of Mencius to introduce that subject in speaking of the traders in the market-place.
[Par. 3. ] See I. Pt i. VII. 18; Pt ii. V. 3. The “travellers,” I suppose, would mostly consist of men moving from State to State in the prosecution of business.
[Par. 4. ] The levying of a tax, an additional tithe, on the produce of the fields which by the theory of the division of the land were the private possession of the husbandmen, commenced in Loo in the 16th year of duke Seuen:—see in the Ch‘un Ts‘ëw and the Tso Chuen, on VII. xvi. 8. Other States, no doubt, had adopted the practice of Loo in the matter.
[Par. 5. ] It is difficult to determine the meaning of this paragraph. Anciently a fine had been levied on the idlers who neglected to plant mulberry-trees and hemp about the ground assigned to them for their huts and dwellings besides the fields which were devoted to the cultivation of grain;—being at first so much cloth, and subsequently the equivalent of that in money. Then some ground-rent was levied perhaps from all the husbandmen for the ground so assigned for their dwellings. These two taxes appear in Mencius’ time to have been levied from all occupying the three sidespaces of the cities to which I have referred in par. 2; and it is this exaction which Mencius here condemns.—Many of the residents in those spaces would be the mechanics of the States; and thus the five points recommended in this chapter would secure the good-will of the four classes into which the population was anciently divided:—scholars or the official class, husbandmen, mechanics, and traders.
[Par. 6. ] “The minister of Heaven” appears again in Pt ii. VIII. 2. On this designation one commentator observes. “An officer is one commissioned by his ruler; the officer of Heaven is he who is commissioned by Heaven. He who bears his ruler’s commission can punish men and put them to death:—he may deal so with all criminals. He who bears the commission of Heaven can execute judgment on men and smite them;—he can deal so even with all who are oppressing and misgoverning their States.”
[Ch. VI. ]That the principles of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and knowledge belong to man as naturally as his four limbs, and may as easily be exercised. This chapter is important in its connexion with the doctrine of Mencius respecting the goodness of human nature; but while the assertions of it are universally true, they are to be understood as introduced here with special reference to the oppressive ways and government of the princes of his time.
[Par. 1. ] Compare parr. 4, 5, 6 in I. Pt i. VII. Chaou K‘e and many others understand the language about “the mind that cannot bear other men,” as if it meant “the mind that cannot bear [to injure] others.” But it is not so much—cannot bear to inflict suffering, as—cannot bear to see suffering. Those paragraphs make this plain, as well as the illustration which immediately follows here in par. 3.
[Par. 3. ] The object here is to prove that the feeling of commiseration is instinctive, and does not spring up from any considerations of interest or advantage to be got by it.
[Parr. 4, 5. ] In par. 4 we have Mencius’ account of the moral constitution of human nature. “The feeling of distress, of shame,” &c., is in the original “the mind that feels distress, shame,” &c. The mind is one, but all these feelings are natural to it, and make it what it is. “Principle” in par. 5, is the right translation of the original term, meaning “the beginning,” as the end of a clue, &c. The feeling of distress is in itself benevolent, and from the primary feeling all benevolent feelings and actions may be developed. “Knowledge” is the only term with which I am not satisfied. Would “wisdom” be a better word, with the meaning it has in such passages of the Bible as “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?”
[Parr. 6, 7. ] “To play the thief with one’s self, or with one’s ruler,” is to injure and rob one’s self or one’s ruler, taking away from him that which properly belongs to him. In par. 7 Mencius must begin the application of his principles with an “if.” His analysis of human nature is admirable, but something is the matter with it of which he is not aware.
[Ch. VII. ]The principle of benevolence should dominate in all the professions of life,—in the business of government and in the arts of lower walks. The benevolent ruler will never be a servant of others, and he who is so has only himself to blame. The argument of Mencius in this chapter is more loosely put forth than in his general practice, and it is more difficult to set it forth concisely.
[Par. 1. ] The term which I have translated “priest” here occurs in the Analects, XIII. xxii., where it is translated by “wizard.” See the passage. As opposed to a “coffin-maker,” who makes provision for the death of men, it indicates one by whose prayers and other methods it is sought to procure life and prosperity for men.
[Par. 2. ] See Ana. IV. i.
[Par. 3. ] The first clause here flows from the previous par., and the next seems to show what will be the consequence of being devoid of benevolence and wisdom; and the whole will result in servitude to others. That result is natural, and he who grieves under it has only himself to blame.
[Par. 5. ] Compare Ana. III. vii. and xvi.
[Ch. VIII. ]How sages and worthies delighted in what was good. To help others to practise goodness is a great instance of virtue.
[Par. 1. ] Tsze-loo’s ardour in pursuing his self-improvement appears in Ana. V. xiii., and other places; but the particular point mentioned here is not mentioned anywhere else.
[Par. 2. ] See the Shoo, II. iii. 1.
[Par. 3. ] Shun’s distinction was that he did not think of himself as Tsze-loo did, nor of others as Yu did, but only of what was good, and was unconsciously carried to it wherever he saw it.
[Par. 4. ] It is related of Shun that in his early days he ploughed at the foot of the Leih mountain, did potter’s work on the banks of the Ho, fished in the Luy lake, made various implements on the Show mountain, and often resided at Foo-hëa. There will be occasion to consider where these places were in connexion with some of Mencius’ future references to him. On his elevation to be emperor see the first Book of the Shoo.
[Ch. IX. ]Pictures of Pih-e and Hwuy of Lew-hea; and Mencius’ judgment concerning them.
[Par. 1. ] Pih-e,—see on ch. ii. 22.
[Par. 2. ] Hwuy of Lëw-hëa,—see on Ana. XV. xiii.; XVIII. ii.; viii.
[Par. 3. ] By “the superior man,” Mencius, perhaps, tacitly referes to himself as having taken Confucius for his model. One commentator says on this paragraph;—“Elsewhere Mencius advises men to imitate E and Hwuy, but he is there speaking to the weak; when here he advises not to follow them, he is speaking for those who wish to do the right thing at the right time.”