Front Page Titles (by Subject) KUNG-SUN CH'OW. PART II. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius
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KUNG-SUN CH‘OW. PART II. - 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 II.
ChapterI.1. Mencius said, “Opportunities of time [vouchsafed by] Heaven are not equal to advantages of situation [afforded by] the earth, and advantages of situation [afforded by] the earth are not equal to the strength [arising from the] accord of men.
2. “[There is a city], with an inner wall of three le in circumference and an outer wall of seven. [The enemy] surround and attack it, but are not able to take it. Now, to surround and attack it, there must have been vouchsafed to them by Heaven the opportunity of time, and in such case their not taking it is because opportunities of time [vouchsafed by] Heaven are not equal to advantages of situation [afforded by] the earth.
3. “[There is a city] whose walls are as high and moats as deep as could be desired, and where the arms and mail [of its defenders] are distinguished for their sharpness and strength, and the [stores of] rice and grain are abundant; yet it has to be given up and abandoned. This is because advantages of situation [afforded by] the earth are not equal to the [strength arising from the] accord of men.
4. “In accordance with these principles it is said, ‘A people is bounded in not by the limits of dykes and borders; a State is secured not by the strengths of mountains and streams; the kingdom is overawed not by the sharpness of arms [and strength] of mail.’ He who finds the proper course has many to assist him, and he who loses it has few. When this—the being assisted by few—reaches the extreme point, [a ruler’s] own relatives and connexions revolt from him. When the being assisted by many reaches its extreme point, all under heaven become obedient [to the ruler].
5. “When one to whom all under heavenare are prepared to become obedient attacks one from whom his own relatives and connexions are ready to revolt, [what must the result be?] Therefore the true ruler will [prefer] not [to] fight, but if he do fight, he is sure to overcome.”
II.1. As Mencius was about to go to court to the king, the king sent a person to him with this message:—“I was wishing to come and see you. But I have got a cold, and may not expose myself to the wind. In the morning I will hold my court. I do not know whether you will give me the opportunity of seeing you?” [Mencius] replied, “Unfortunately I am unwell, and not able to go to court.”
2. Next day he went out to pay a visit of condolence to the Tung-kwoh family, when Kung-sun Ch‘ow said to him, “Yesterday you declined [going to the court] on the ground of being unwell, and to-day you are paying a visit of condolence:—may not this be regarded as improper?” “Yesterday,” said [Mencius], “I was unwell; to-day I am better:—why should I not pay this visit?”
3. [In the mean time] the king sent a messenger to inquire about his illness, and a physician [also] came [from the court]. Măng Chung replied to them, “Yesterday, when the king’s order came, he was feeling a little unwell, and could not go to the court. To-day he was a little better and hastened to go to court. I do not know whether he can have reached it [by this time] or not.” [Having said this,] he sent several men to intercept [Mencius] on the way, and say to him that he begged him, before he returned, to be sure and go to the court.
4. [On this, Mencius] felt himself compelled to go to King Ch‘ow’s, and there stop the night. The officer King said to him, “In the family there is [the relation of] father and son; beyond it there is [that of] ruler and minister. These are the greatest relations among men. Between father and son the ruling principle is kindness; between ruler and minister the ruling principle is respect. I have seen the respect of the king to you, Sir, but I have not seen in what way you show respect to him.” The reply was, “Oh! what words are these? Among the people of Ts‘e there is no one who speaks to the king about benevolence and righteousness. Is it because they think that benevolence and righteousness are not admirable? No; but in their hearts they say, ‘This man is not fit to be spoken with about benevolence and righteousness.’ Thus they manifest a disrespect than which there can be none greater. I do not dare to set forth before the king any but the ways of Yaou and Shun. There is therefore no man of Ts‘e who respects the king so much as I do.”
5. King-tsze said, “Not so; that was not what I meant. In the Book of Rites it is said, ‘When a father calls, the son must go to him without a moment’s hesitation; when the prince’s order calls, the carriage must not be waited for.’ You were certainly going to court, but when you heard the king’s message, you did not carry the purpose out. This does seem as if your conduct were not in accordance with that rule of propriety.”
6. [Mencius] answered him, “How can you give that meaning to my conduct? The philosopher Tsăng said, ‘The wealth of Tsin and Ts‘oo cannot be equalled. Their [rulers] have their wealth, and I have my benevolence. They have their rank; and I have my righteousness. Wherein should I be dissatisfied [as inferior to them]?’ Now were these sentiments not right? Seeing that the philosopher Tsăng gave expression to them, there is in them, I apprehend, a [real] principle. Under heaven there are three things universally acknowledged to be honourable:—rank; years; and virtue. In courts, rank holds the first place of the three; in villages, years; and for helping one’s generation and presiding over the people, virtue. How can the possession of only one of them be presumed on to despise one who possesses the other two?
7. “Therefore, a prince who is to accomplish great deeds will certainly have ministers whom he does not call to go to him. When he wishes to consult with them, he goes to them. [The ruler] who does not honour the virtuous and delight in their ways of doing to this extent is not worth having to do with.
8. “Accordingly, so did T‘ang behave to E Yin:—he learned of him, and then employed him as his minister, and so without difficulty he became king. And so did duke Hwan behave to Kwan Chung:—he learned of him, and then employed him as his minister, and so without difficulty he became leader of the princes.
9. “Now throughout the kingdom [the territories of] the princes are of equal extent and in their achievements they are on a level. Not one of them is able to exceed the others. This is from no other reason but that they love to make ministers of those whom they teach, and do not love to make ministers of those by whom they might be taught.
10. “So did T‘ang behave to E Yin, and duke Hwan to Kwan Chung, that they would not venture to call them [to them]. If even Kwan Chung could not be called to him [by his ruler], how much less may he be called who would not play the part of Kwan Chung!”
III.1. Ch‘in Tsin asked [Mencius], saying, “Formerly, when you were in Ts‘e, the king sent you a present of 2,000 taels of fine silver, and you refused to accept it. When you were in Sung, 1,400 taels were sent to you, which you accepted; and when you were in Sëeh, 1,000 taels were sent, which you [likewise] accepted. If your declining the gift in the first case was right, your accepting it in the latter cases was wrong. If your accepting it in the latter cases was right, your declining it in the first case was wrong. You must accept, Master, one of these alternatives.”
2. Mencius said, “I did right in all the cases.
3. “When I was in Sung, I was about to take a long journey. Travellers must be provided with what is necessary for their expenses. The [prince’s] message was—‘A present against travelling expenses.’ Why should I not have received it?
4. “When I was in Sëeh, I was apprehensive for my safety, and wished to take measures for my protection. The message [with the gift] was—‘I have heard that you are apprehensive for your safety, and therefore I send you this to help you in procuring weapons.’ Why should I not have received it?
5. “But as to the case in Ts‘e, I had then no occasion for money. To send a man a gift, when he has no occasion for it, is to bribe him. How can one claim to be a superior man, and allow himself to be taken with a bribe?”
IV.1. Mencius, having gone to P‘ing-luh, said to the governor of it, “If [one of] your spearmen should lose his place in the ranks three times in one day, would you, Sir, put him to death or not?” “I would not wait till he had done so three times,” was the reply.
2. [Mencius] continued, “Well then, you, Sir, have lost your place in the ranks many times. In calamitous years and years of famine, the old and feeble of your people who have been found lying in ditches and water-channels, and the able-bodied who have been scattered about to the four quarters, have amounted to thousands.” “This is not a case in which I, Keu-sin, can take it upon me to act.”
3. “Here,” said [Mencius], “is a man who receives charge of the sheep and cattle of another, and undertakes to feed them for him;—of course he must seek for pasture-ground and grass for them. If, after seeking for these, he cannot find them, will he return his charge to the owner? or will he stand [by] and see them die?” “Herein,” said [the governor], “I am guilty.”
4. Another day Mencius had an audience of the king, and said to him, “Of the governors of your Majesty’s cities I am acquainted with five; but the only one who knows his fault is K‘ung Keu-sin.” He then related to the king the conversation which he had had [with that officer], and the king said, “In this matter I am the guilty one.”
V.1. Mencius said to Ch‘e Wa, “There seemed to be reason in your declining [the governorship] of Ling-k‘ëw, and requesting to be appointed chief criminal judge, because the [latter office] would afford you the opportunity of speaking your mind. But now several months have elapsed; and have you found nothing about which you might speak?”
2. [On this] Ch‘e Wa remonstrated [on some matter] with the king; and, his counsel not being taken, he resigned his office, and went away.
3. The people of Ts‘e said, “In the course which he marked out for Ch‘e Wa he did well; but as to the course which he pursues for himself, we do not know.”
4. His disciple Kung Too told him these remarks.
5. [Mencius] said, “I have heard that when he, who is in charge of an office, is prevented from performing its duties, he should take his departure, and that he on whom is the responsibility of giving his opinions, when his words are disregarded, should do the same. [But] I am in charge of no office, and on me is no responsibility to speak out my views;—may not I act freely and without restraint either in going forward or in retiring?”
VI.1. Mencius, occupying the position of a high dignitary in Ts‘e, went from it on a mission of condolence to T‘ăng, and the king sent Wang Hwan, governor of Kah, [with him] as assistant-commissioner. Wang Hwan, morning and evening, waited upon him, but, during all the way to T‘ăng and back to Ts‘e, [Mencius] never spoke to him about the affairs of the mission.
2. Kung-sun Ch‘ow said [to Mencius], “The position of a high dignitary of Ts‘e is not a small one, and the way from Ts‘e to T‘ăng is not short;—how was it that during all the way from Ts‘e to T‘ăng and back, you never spoke [to Hwan] about the affairs of the mission?” “There were the proper parties to attend to them; why should I speak [to him about them]?”
VII.1. Mencius [went] from Ts‘e to bury [his mother] in Loo. When he returned to Ts‘e, he stopped at Ying, and Ch‘ung Yu begged [to put a question to] him, saying, “Formerly, in ignorance of my incompetency, you employed me to superintend the business of making the coffin. As [you were then pressed by] the urgency [of the business], I did not venture to put any question to you; but now I wish to take the liberty to submit the matter. The wood, it appeared to me, was too good.”
2. [Mencius] replied, “Anciently, there was no rule for [the thickness of] either the inner or the outer coffin. In middle antiquity, the inner coffin was made seven inches thick, and the outer the same. This was done by all from the son of Heaven down to the common people, and not simply for the beauty of the appearance, but because they thus satisfied [the natural feelings of] the human heart.
3. “If prevented [by statutory regulations] from making their coffins thus, men cannot have the feeling of pleasure; and if they have not the money [to make them thus], they cannot have that feeling. When they were not prevented, and had the money, the ancients all used this style;—why should I alone not do so?
4. “And moreover, is this alone no satisfaction to a man’s heart—to prevent the earth from getting near to the bodies of his dead?
5. “I have heard that the superior man will not for all the world be niggardly to his parents.”
VIII.1. Shin T‘ung, on his private authority, asked [Mencius], saying, “May Yen be attacked?” Mencius said, “It may. Tsze-k‘wae had no right to give Yen to another man; and Tsze-che had no right to receive Yen from Tsze-k‘wae. [Suppose] there were an officer here, with whom you, Sir, were pleased, and that, without announcing the matter to the king, you were privately to give to him your salary and rank, and [suppose that] this officer, also without the king’s orders, were privately to receive them from you;—would [such a transaction] be allowable? And where is the difference between [the case of Yen and] this?”
2. The people of Ts‘e attacked Yen, and some one asked [Mencius] saying, “Is it true that you advised Ts‘e to attack Yen?” He replied, “No. Shin T‘ung asked me whether Yen might be attacked, and I replied that it might, on which they proceeded to attack it. If he had asked me who might attack it, I would have answered him that the minister of Heaven might do so. Suppose the case of a murderer, and that one asked me, ‘May this man be put to death?’ I would answer him, ‘He may.’ If he [further] asked me, ‘Who may put him to death?’ I would answer him, ‘The chief criminal judge.’ But now with [one] Yen to attack [another] Yen:—how should I have advised this?”
2. Ch‘in Këa said [to him], “Let not your Majesty be troubled. Whether does your Majesty consider yourself or the duke of Chow the more benevolent and wise?” The king replied, “Oh! what words are these?” [Ch‘in Kea] rejoined, “The duke of Chow employed Kwan-shuh to over-see [the heir of] Yin, but Kwan-shuh rebelled with [the people of] Yin. If, knowing [that this would happen], he yet employed him, he was not benevolent. If he employed him without knowing it, he was not wise. The duke of Chow was [thus] not perfectly benevolent and wise, and how much less can your Majesty be expected to be so! I beg to [go and] see Mencius, and relieve [your Majesty] of that [feeling].”
3. [Accordingly] he saw Mencius, and asked him, saying, “What kind of man was the duke of Chow?” “An ancient sage,” was the reply. “Is it true,” pursued [the other], “that he employed Kwan-shuh to oversee [the heir of] Yin, and that Kwan-shuh rebelled with [the people of] Yin?” “It is,” said [Mencius]. [Ch‘in Kea] asked, “Did the duke of Chow know that he would rebel, and [thereupon] employ him?” “He did not know it,” was the reply. “Then though a sage, he still fell into error.” “The duke of Chow,” said [Mencius], “was the younger brother, and Kwan-shuh the elder. Was not the error of the duke of Chow reasonable?
4. “Moreover, when the superior men of old had errors, they reformed them; but when the superior men of the present day have errors, they persist in them. The errors of the superior men of old were like the eclipses of the sun and moon. All the people witness them; and when they have resumed their usual appearance, all the people look up to them [with their former admiration]. But do superior men of the present day merely persist [in their errors]?—they go on to make excuses for them as well.”
2. The king went to see him, and said, “Formerly I wished to see you, but found no opportunity to do so. When I got that opportunity, and stood by you in the same court, I was exceedingly glad. [But] now again you are abandoning me and returning home;—I do not know if hereafter I may have another opportunity of seeing you.” “I do not venture to make any request,” was the reply, “but indeed it is what I desire.”
3. Another day, the king said to the officer She, “I wish to give Mencius a house in the centre of the kingdom, and to support his disciples with [an allowance of] 10,000 chung, so that all the great officers and people may have [such an example] to reverence and imitate. Had you not better tell him this for me?”
4. The officer She conveyed this message by means of the disciple Ch‘in, who reported his words to Mencius.
5. Mencius said, “Yes; but how should the officer She know that the thing may not be? Supposing that I wanted to be rich, having declined 100,000 chung, would my accepting 10,000 be the conduct of one desiring riches?
6. “Ke-sun said, ‘A strange man was Tsze-shuh E! Suppose that he himself was a high minister, if [his prince would] no longer employ him, he had to retire; but he would again [try to] get one of his younger relatives to be high minister. Who indeed is there of men that does not wish to be rich and noble, but he only, among the rich and noble, sought to monopolize the conspicuous mound.’
7. “In old time the market-dealers exchanged the articles which they had for others which they had not, and simply had certain officers to keep them in order. There was a mean fellow, who made it a point to look out for a conspicuous mound, and get up upon it. Thence he looked right and left to catch in his net the whole gain of the market. People all thought his conduct mean, and therefore they proceeded to lay a tax upon his wares. The taxing of traders took its rise from this mean fellow.”
2. A person who wished for the king to detain him [came and] sat down [to speak with him]. [Mencius] gave him no answer, but leant upon his stool and slept.
3. The stranger was displeased, and said, “I have fasted for two days before I would venture to speak with you, and [now], Master, you sleep and do not listen to me. Allow me to request that I may not again presume to see you.” [Mencius] said, “Sit down, and I will explain the matter clearly to you. Formerly, if duke Muh of Loo had not had persons [continually] by the side of Tsze-sze, he could not have kept Tsze-sze [in his State]; and if Sëeh Lëw and Shin Ts‘ëang had not had persons by the side of duke Muh, they would not have been able to feel at rest [in remaining in Loo].
4. “You, Sir, are concerned and plan about an old man like me, but I have not been treated as Tsze-sze was. Is it you, Sir, who cut me? Or is it I who cut you?”
XII.1. Mencius having left Ts‘e, Yin Sze spake about him to others, saying, “If he did not know that the king could not be made a T‘ang or a Woo, that showed his want of intelligence. If he knew that he could not be made such, and yet came [to Ts‘e] notwithstanding, that he was seeking for favours. He came a thousand le to wait upon the king. Because he did not find in him the ruler he wished, he took his leave. Three nights he stayed, and then passed from Chow;—how dilatory and lingering [was his departure]! I am dissatisfied on account of this.”
3. The disciple Kaou informed [Mencius] of these remarks.
4. [Mencius] said, “How should Yin Sze know me? When I came a thousand le to see the king, it was what I desired to do. When I went away, not finding in him the ruler that I wished, was that what I desired to do? I felt myself constrained to do it.
5. “When I stayed three nights before I passed from Chow, in my own mind I still considered my departure speedy. I was hoping that the king might change. If the king had changed, he would certainly have recalled me.
6. “When I passed from Chow, and the king had not sent after me, then, and only then, was my mind resolutely bent on returning [to Tsow]. But notwithstanding that, was I giving the king up? He is after all one who may be made to do what is good. If the king were to use me, would it be for the happiness of the people of Ts‘e only? It would be for the happiness of all under heaven. Would the king but change! I am daily hoping for this.
7. “Am I like one of your little-minded people? They will remonstrate with their ruler, and when their remonstrance is not accepted, they get angry, and with their passion displayed in their countenance, they take their leave, and travel with all their strength for a whole day before they will stop for the night.”
8. When Yin Sze heard this [explanation], he said, “I am indeed a small man.”
XIII.1. When Mencius left Ts‘e, Ch‘ung Yu questioned him on the way, saying, “Master, you look like one who carries an air of dissatisfaction in his countenance. [But] formerly I heard you say that the superior man does not murmur against Heaven, nor cherish a grudge against men.”
2. [Mencius] said, “That was one time, and this is another.
3. “It is a rule that a true sovereign should arise in the course of five hundred years, and that during that time there should be men illustrious in their generation.
4. “From the commencement of the Chow dynasty till now, more than seven hundred years have elapsed. Judging numerically, the date is passed. Considering the matter from the [character of the present] time, we might expect [a true king to arise].
5. “But Heaven does not yet wish that tranquillity and good order should prevail all under the sky. If it wished this, who is there besides me to bring it about? How should I be otherwise than dissatisfied?”
2. [Mencius] said, “No. When I first saw the king in Ts‘ung, it was my intention, on retiring from the interview, to go away. Because I did not wish to change this intention, I would not receive [any salary].
3. “Immediately after, orders were issued for [the collection of] troops, when it would have been improper for me to beg [permission to leave]. [But] to remain long in Ts‘e was not my purpose.”
[Ch. I. ]No advantages which a ruler can obtain for the purpose of defence, or to exalt him over others, are equal to his possessing the hearts of men. Because of this chapter Mencius has got a place in China among the writers on the art of war, which surely he would not have wished to claim for himself, his design being to supersede the recourse to arms altogether.
[Par. 1. ] Chinese commentators have much to say about ascertaining the “time of Heaven” by divination and astrology: but all this is to be set aside as foreign to the mind of Mencius in the text, though many examples of the resort to those arts can be adduced from ancient records. “The accord of men” is the loyal union of the people with their ruler.
[Par. 2. ] The city here supposed, with its double circle of fortification, is a small one, the better to illustrate the superiority of advantage of situation, just as that in the next par. is a large one, to bring out the still greater superiority of the union of men. A city of the dimensions specified here was the capital of a baronial State.
[Par. 4. ] “The proper course” intended is that style of government on the principles of benevolence and righteousness which is sure to unite the hearts of the people to their ruler. “Relatives” are relatives by blood; “connexions,” merely relatives by affinity.
[Ch. II. ]How Mencius considered that it was slighting him for the king of Ts‘e to call him by messengers to go to court to see him; and the shifts he was put to to get this understood. It must be understood that Mencius was in Ts‘e simply as an honoured guest, in his capacity of teacher or philosopher, and had not accepted any official position with the salary attached to it. It was for him to pay his respects at court, if he wished to do so; but if the king wished to show him respect and to ask his counsel, it was for him to go to him, and beg his instructions.
[Par. 1. ] The morning, as soon as it was light, was the regular time for the king and feudal princes to give audience to their ministers and officers, and arrange about the administration of affairs; and this is also the modern practice in China. The king’s saying that he had a cold was merely a pretence;—he wanted to get Mencius to come to him. Mencius’ saying that he was unwell was equally a pretence. Compare Confucius’ conduct in Ana. XVII. xx.
[Par. 2. ] Tung-kwoh was a clan name in Ts‘e, taking its rise from the quarter where the founder of it had lived. Some member of the family had died, and Mencius now went to it to pay a visit of condolence, that the king might hear of his doing so, and understand the lesson he had meant to give him the day before by saying that he was unwell. The disciple did not understand the reason of his proceeding, and our philosopher, we think, had better have told it to him plainly than go on to further prevarication.
[Par. 3. ] Măng Chung must have been a near relative of Mencius:—some say that he was a son; others, a nephew. “He was a little unwell” is in Chinese “he had anxiety about gathering firewood.” To do this was the business of the children of the common people, from which sickness alone could give them a dispensation. Used of Mencius it was an expression of humility. Neither did Măng Chung understand the conduct of his father or uncle; and having committed himself to a falsehood about it, he took the step which is related to get Mencius to go to court to make his own words good.
[Par. 4. ] Mencius was resolved that the king should know the reason of his not going to court; and as the words of Măng Chung interfered with his first plan for that purpose, he now went to another officer of Ts‘e whose acquaintance he enjoyed, and talked the matter over with him fully, that through him the whole thing might reach the king’s ears.
[Par. 5. ] The passages quoted by the officer King from the Book of Rites (I Pt I. iii. 14; XIII. iii. 2) were not fully applicable to Mencius, who did not consider himself a minister of Ts‘e. He was there as an honoured visitor, and would only take office if he saw reason to believe that the king would follow his counsels.
[Par. 8. ] We are told that it was only after T‘ang had five times solicited the presence of E Yin by special messengers that that worthy was induced to go to him. See the confidence reposed by duke Hwan in Kwan Chung in Pt I. i. 3. Kwan was taken to Ts‘e originally as a prisoner to be put to death, but the duke, knowing his ability and worth, had determined to make him his chief minister, and therefore, having first caused him to be relieved of his fetters, he drove himself out of his capital and met him with all distinction, listening to a long discourse from him on government.
[Par. 9. ] All things were ready for one prince to exceed all the others, and to be made king; but no one would follow the counsels of Mencius which would have resulted in such an issue.
[Par. 10. ] Compare Pt I. i. 4.
[Ch. III. ]By what principles Mencius was guided in receiving or declining the gifts tendered to him by the princes. The practice of receiving gifts from the princes whom he condemned was one of the weak points in Mencius’ life, and his disciples were evidently stumbled by it. He had always something to say, however, in reply to their doubts and questions;—ingenious, if not altogether satisfactory.
[Par. 1. ] Ch‘in Tsin was one of Mencius’ disciples, but this is all that is known of him. Nor can we tell to what period of our philosopher’s life this conversation should be referred. Fine silver, is, literally, “double metal;” i.e., silver (not gold) worth twice as much as that in ordinary circulation. Sung was the dukedom over which the representatives of the kings of the Shang dynasty ruled, having as its capital Shang-kew, which name remains in the district so called of the department Kwei-tih in Ho-nan. Seeh,—see on I. Pt II. xiv. 1. I suppose that though Seeh in Mencius’ time belonged to Ts‘e the descendants of its former princes were permitted to administer it, and that it was one of them who sent to him the present here mentioned.
[Parr. 3—5. ] These contain the explanation which Mencius gives of his conduct. He took gifts when he had occasion for them;—it would have been better if he had not taken them at all.
[Ch. IV. ]How Mencius brought conviction of their faults to an officer of Ts‘e and to the king. This brief chapter is a good instance of Mencius’ manner, and of the ingenuity which he displayed in bringing his counsels before those whom he wished most to influence.
[Par. 1. ] P‘ing-luh was a city—one of those called capitals, as having in them an ancestral temple of the princes of the State—in the south of Ts‘e, somewhere, probably, in the present department of Yen-chow. Its governor or commandant, presiding also over the country around it, was K‘ung Keu-sin.
[Par. 2. ] The governor’s saying that the case which Mencius described was not one in which he could act meant that the measures to provide for it, such as opening the public granaries, could only emanate from the king.
[Par. 3. ] Mencius wished the governor to understand that he ought not in such circumstances to retain his office.
[Ch. V. ]The freedom which Mencius claimed for himself in retaining his position in Ts‘e, notwithstanding objectionable measures of the king, was because he was unsalaried.
[Par. 1. ] Of Ch‘e Wa we only know what is related here. Ling-k‘ëw was a city in the borders of Ts‘e, remote from the court. Ch‘e Wa had been governor of it, but got himself appointed chief criminal judge, wishing to be near the king, with whom this office would give him the opportunity to remonstrate on measures of which he did not approve. Perhaps he found it easier to resolve to discharge that disagreeable duty, than to carry the resolution into practice.
[Parr. 2—4. ] Ch‘e Wa, stimulated by Mencius, did remonstrate and then felt it necessary to retire from office. We cannot wonder at the remarks of the people on Mencius’ conduct.
Kung-too was one of his disciples with whom we shall meet again. Mencius thought highly of him, but this is nearly all we know about him. He appears to have been descended from a prince of Ts‘oo, who held the city of Too; and hence the surname.
[Ch. VI. ]Mencius’ behaviour towards an unworthy associate.
[Par. 1. ] Mencius’ situation as a “noble” or “high dignitary” of Ts‘e appears to have been honorary only, without emolument, and the king employed him on this occasion to give weight by his character to the mission. But he associated with him Wang Hwan, an unworthy favourite. I think Mencius had better have declined the mission, and escaped from the association altogether, than behave as he did.
[Par. 2. ] Chaou K‘e understands the first part of Mencius’ reply to Ch‘ow as relating to Wang Hwan, and = “The fellow attended to them—managed them—himself;” but the interpretation followed in the version is more natural, and in harmony with the ordinary usage of the terms.
[Ch. VII. ]That one ought to do his utmost in the burial of his parents;—illustrated by the style in which Mencius buried his mother. Compare I Pt II. xvi.
[Par. 1. ] The tradition is that Mencius had had his mother with him in Ts‘e, and that on her death he carried the coffin to the family sepulchre in Tsow, which now was part of Loo. How long he remained in Loo is uncertain; perhaps the whole three years proper to the mourning for a parent. Ying was a city in the south of Ts‘e, and it is also disputed whether his stopping at it was for a night merely, or for a longer period. Ch‘ung Yu was one of Mencius’ disciples, and it has been deemed strange, if the philosopher completed the period of mourning in Loo, that Yu should have submitted his doubts to him after the lapse of so long a time. But it has been replied that this only illustrates how fond Mencius’ disciples were of applying to him for a solution of their doubts; and the instance of Ch‘in Tsin in chapter iii. is another case in point of the length of time they would keep things in mind. The different speculations on the points thus indicated are endless.
[Par. 2. ] “Middle antiquity” commences with the Chow dynasty, and Mencius has reference especially to the statutes settled by the duke of Chow for the regulation of funeral and other rites; though what he says about the equal thickness of the inner and outer coffins does not agree with what we find in the Le Ke, XXII. ii. 31. It must be borne in mind also that seven inches of the Chow dynasty were only equal to rather more than four inches of the present day.
[Ch. VIII. ]Even deserved punishment ought not to be inflicted by any but the proper authority. An offending State can only be attacked by the Minister of Heaven;—Illustrated from the case of Ts‘e and Yen. See on Book I. Pt II. x and xi. This chapter should come in perhaps, in point of time, before ch. x. there. Tsze-k‘wae was the name of the weak king of Yen who had resigned his portion to his favourite minister Tsze-che.
[Par. 1. ] Shin T‘ung must have been a minister of Ts‘e; and though he consulted Mencius, as is here related, about attacking Yen, on his own private impulse, he must have informed the king and others of the answer of the philosopher which was supposed to justify the movement of Ts‘e against the neighbouring State.
[Par. 2. ] Compare what Mencius did really say to the king of Ts‘e on the subject of his appropriating the vanquished Yen in I. Pt II. x. and xi.
[Ch. IX. ]How Mencius exposed the attempt to argue in excuse of errors and misconduct:—referring also to the case of Ts‘e and Yen. This chapter should come in after ch. xi. of I. Pt II.
[Par. 1. ] The king was naturally ashamed of himself for having misinterpreted what Mencius had said to Shin T‘ung, and neglected the advice which he had given to himself.
[Par. 2. ] Ch‘in Këa was, like Shin T‘ung, an officer of Ts‘e. The case of the duke of Chow to which Këa reterred was this:—On king Woo’s extinction of the dynasty of Shang, having spared the life of the son of the last sovereign, he farther conferred on him the small State of Yin from which the dynasty had taken one of its names, but placed him under the surveillance of two of his own brothers, Sëen and Too, one of them older and the other younger than another brother, Tan the duke of Chow, by whose advice, we must understand, the step was taken. Sëen has come down to us with the title of Kwan-shuh, Kwan being the name of the principality which he had received for himself. After Woo’s death, Seen and Too joined the heir of Yin in rebelling against the new dynasty, when the duke of Chow took action against them, put the former to death and banished the other.
[Par. 3. ] What Mencius means in the conclusion of this paragraph is, that brother ought not to be suspicious of brother, and that it is better, between brothers, to be deceived than to impute evil.
[Par. 4. ] In the phrase—“the superior men of the present day,” “the superior men” has to be taken vaguely, and merely means—those who wish to be regarded as superior men.
[Ch. X. ]Mencius, in leaving a State or remaining in it, was not influenced by pecuniary considerations, but by the opportunity denied or accorded to him of carrying his lessons into practice:—illustrated by the circumstances attending his leaving Ts‘e.
[Par. 1. ] Mencius had given the king of Ts‘e a long trial, and it was clear that nothing really great was to be accomplished with him. He therefore resigned his honorary office, and prepared to withdraw from the State or kingdom. I think I have given the true meaning of the paragraph. Chaou K‘e indeed makes the “returning” to be only to Mencius’ own house in the capital of Ts‘e; but according to that view, the “I do not venture to make any request,” in the next par.=“I do not venture to ask you to come again in person to see me;” which is surely flat and absurd.
[Par. 2. ] Mencius sees that the king, with all his complimentary expressions, is really bidding him adieu, and answers accordingly, in as complimentary a way, intimating his purpose to be gone.
[Par. 3. ] The king after all does not like the idea of Mencius’ going away, and thinks of this plan to retain him, which was in reality what Mencius calls in ch. iii. trying to take him with a bribe. She was an officer at the court of Ts‘e.
The chung was the name of a large measure of grain, equal to 64 tow or pecks, amounting to about seven hundred-weight. “The centre of the kingdom” is to be understood of the capital, as in the She, III. ii. IX.
[Par. 4. ] “The disciple Ch‘in” here is the Ch‘in Tsin of ch. iii.
[Par. 5. ] Mencius does not care to state plainly here his real reason for going,—that he was not permitted to see his principles carried into practice; and therefore contents himself with repelling the idea that he was accessible to pecuniary considerations 100,000 chung was the regular allowance for a high minister, which Mencius had declined to receive.
[Par. 6. ] Ke-sun was the clan name of the greatest of the families of Loo, but which of the Heads of that clan was here intended we do not know. Tsze-shuh was also a clan name in Loo, but of E, the member of it who is mentioned, we know nothing beyond what is here told. Mencius quotes the remarks of Ke-sun about Tsze-shuh E, to show that they would be applicable to himself, if he were to take the course suggested to him from the king of Ts‘e. Chaou K‘e makes out Ke-sun and Tsze-shuh to have been disciples of Mencius, and according to his view we should have to translate. “Ke-sun said, ‘How strange [is this course]!’ ” Tsze-shuh [also] doubted [about it]. “Suppose,” [they thought,] “he himself is no longer employed as a high minister, let him go away, but let him get his disciples into the situation,” &c. But all this is plainly inadmissible.
[Par. 7. ] Mencius here explains the expression in the end of Ke-sun’s speech about “monopolizing the conspicuous mound,”—explains it in a way to show still more pointedly his sense of the proposal of the king of Ts‘e.
[Ch. XI. ]How Mencius repelled a man, who, officiously and on his own impulse, wished to detain him in Ts‘e.
[Par. 1. ] Chow was a city on the south-western border of Ts‘e, at which Mencius had arrived in his progress to Loo. He had conducted his departure leisurely, hoping that the king would recall him ere he had left the State, and pledge himself to follow his counsels.
[Par. 2. ] Who the person that thus intruded himself into Mencius’ company was we do not know. All that is meant by “for the king” is that he knew that it would please the king if he could induce Mencius to remain. “Leant upon his stool;”—the stool was small, and could be carried in the hand. Parties leant forward, or back, on it, as they sat upon the mat, which was spread for them on the floor.
[Par. 3. ] “I fasted for two days” is literally “I fasted and passed the night;” that is, “I fasted over the night,”=“I have fasted two days.” Tsze-sze was the well-known grandson of Confucius. Shin Ts‘ëang was the son of Tsze-chang, one of Confucius’ disciples. Seeh Lew was also a native of Loo, and belonged to the Confucian school. Tsze-sze required great respect to be shown to him, and he had an attendant appointed by duke Muh always in waiting on him, to assure him of the respect with which he was cherished. The two others had not such attendants, but they knew that there were always officers by the duke’s side to admonish him not to forget them.
[Par. 4. ] The stranger’s thinking that he could retain Mencius, without any such demonstrations from the king, show how little store he set by the philosopher,—was really cutting him.
[Ch. XII. ]How Mencius explained his seeming to linger in Ts‘e after he had resigned his office and quitted the court.
[Par. 1. ] Nothing more can be said of Yin Sze than that he was a man, a scholar, of Ts‘e. What he chiefly charged against Mencius was the lingering nature of his departure.
Par. 2. The disciple Kaou appears again in VII. Pt II. xxi., from which it would appear that there was something not satisfactory about him.
[Par. 3. ] Mencius was constrained to leave Ts‘e by the conviction forced at last upon him that he would not get the king to carry his counsels into practice.
[Par. 7. ] Compare with this paragraph Confucius’ defence of Kwan Chung in Ana. XIV. xviii.
[Ch. XIII. ]Mencius’ grief at not finding the opportunity to accomplish for the kingdom the good which he was conscious he had in him the power to do.
[Par. 1. ] Ch‘ung Yu has appeared before in ch. vii. We find the saying which he here attributes to his master used by Confucius of himself in Ana. XIV. xxxvii. 2.
[Par. 3. ] “Five hundred years;”—this is speaking in round and loose numbers, even if we judge of the sentiment from the history of China prior to Mencius. “During that time” would seem to mean that, in addition to the true king, all along the centuries there would be men of distinguished ability and virtue, but Mencius is generally understood as referring to the men who should arise at the same time with the true sovereign, and assist him by their counsels.
[Par. 4. ] Nearly 800 years must have elapsed from the rise of the Chow dynasty, when Mencius thus spoke. He seems for the time to have been oblivious of Confucius; but he was merely a sage, and had not the power to carry out his principles on a grand scale. What had been wanting in his time, and was wanting still, was a true king.
[Par. 5. ] It cannot be said that Mencius had not a sufficiently high opinion of himself. Compare with this paragraph the sentiments of Confucius in Ana. IX. v.
[Ch. XIV. ]The reason of Mencius’ holding merely an honorary office in Ts‘e, without receiving salary, was because from the first he had little confidence in the king, and wished to be free in his movements.
[Par. 1. ] Hew was in the present district of T‘ăng, in the department of Yen-chow. Kung-sun Ch‘ow’s inquiry, as appears from the style in the Chinese of Mencius’ reply, was simply for information.
[Par. 2. ] Ts‘ung was the name of a city in Ts‘e, the situation of which cannot now be more exactly determined. There Mencius first met with king Seuen, and received an unfavourable impression of him.
[Par. 3. ] Perhaps “the collection of troops” was connected with Tse’s relations with Yen. See the conversation of king Seuen with Mencius in I. Pt II. xi.; at such a time Mencius could not well ask leave to quit the State. Another interpretation of the phrase has been proposed, making it refer to the proposal to retain him in Ts‘e, which is mentioned in ch. x., but this is quite unreasonable.
[* ] The title of the book is taken from duke Wăn of T‘ăng, who is prominent in the first three chapters of it. Wăn of course is the honorary or sacrificial title which he received after his death. We have already met with him in confidential intercourse with Mencius, in chapters xiii. to xv. of Book I. Part II., the date of which must be subsequent to that of the chapters in this Book. Chaou K‘e compares the title of this Book with that of the 15th Book of the Analects.