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LE LOW. 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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LE LOW. PART I.
ChapterI.1. Mencius said, “The power of vision of Le Low, and the skill of hand of Kung-shoo, without the compass and square, could not form squares and circles. The acute ear of the [music]-master Kwang, without the pitch-tubes, could not determine correctly the five notes. The principles of Yaou and Shun, without a benevolent government, could not secure the tranquil order of the kingdom.
With this Book commences what is commonly called the second or lower Part of the Works of Mencius; but that division is not recognized in the critical editions. It is called Le Low from its commencing with those two characters, and contains twenty-eight chapters which are most of them shorter than those of the preceding Books.
2. “There are now [princes] who have benevolent hearts and a reputation for benevolence, while yet the people do not receive any benefits from them, nor will they leave any example to future ages;—all because they do not put into practice the ways of the ancient kings.
3. “Hence we have the saying, ‘Goodness alone is not sufficient for the exercise of government; laws alone cannot carry themselves into practice.’
4. “It is said in the Book of Poetry,
Never has any one fallen into error who followed the laws of the ancient kings.
5. “When the sages had used all the power of their eyes, they called in to their aid the compass, the square, the level, and the line; and the ability to make things square, round, level, and straight was inexhaustible. When they had used all the power of their ears, they called in the aid of the pitch-tubes; and the ability to determine correctly the five notes was inexhaustible. When they had used all the thoughts of their hearts, they called in to their aid a government that could not bear [to witness the suffering of] men; and their benevolence overspread all under heaven.
6. “Hence we have the saying, ‘To raise a thing high we must begin from [the top of] a mound or a hill; to dig to a [great] depth, we must commence in [the low ground of] a stream or a marsh.’ Can he be pronounced wise who, in the exercise of government, does not start from the ways of the ancient kings.
7. “Therefore only the benevolent ought to be in high stations. When a man destitute of benevolence is in a high station, he thereby disseminates his wickedness among the multitudes [below him].
8. “When the ruler has not principles by which he examines [his administration], and his ministers have no laws by which they keep themselves [in the discharge of their duties], then in the court obedience is not paid to principle, and in the office obedience is not paid to rule. Superiors violate [the laws of] righteousness, and inferiors violate the penal laws. It is only by a fortunate chance that a State in such a case is preserved.
9. “Therefore it is said, ‘It is not the interior and exterior walls being incomplete, nor the supply of weapons offensive and defensive not being large, which constitutes the calamity of a State. It is not the non-extension of the cultivable area, nor the non-accumulation of stores and wealth, which is injurious to a State.’ When superiors do not observe the rules of propriety, and inferiors do not learn [anything better], then seditious people spring up, and [that State] will perish in no time.
10. “It is said in the Book of Poetry,
11. “ ‘Indifferent,’ that is, careless and dilatory.
12. “And so may [those officers] be deemed who serve their ruler without righteousness, who take office and retire from office without regard to propriety, and in their words disown the ways of the ancient kings.
13. “Therefore it is said, ‘To urge one’s ruler to difficult achievements should be called showing respect for him; to set before him what is good and repress his perversities should be called showing reverence for him. [He who does not do these things, but says to himself], ‘My ruler is incompetent to this,’ should be said to play the thief with him.”
2. “He who, as a ruler, would perfectly discharge the duties of a ruler, and he who, as a minister, would perfectly discharge the duties of a minister, have only to imitate,—the one Yaou, and the other Shun. He who does not serve his ruler as Shun served Yaou does not reverence his ruler, and he who does not rule the people as Yaou ruled them injures his people.
3. “Confucius said, ‘There are but two courses, that of benevolence and its opposite.’
4. “[A ruler] who carries the oppression of his people to the highest pitch will himself be slain, and his State will perish. If one stop short of the highest pitch, his life will be in danger, and his State will be weakened. He will be styled ‘The Dark’ or ‘The Cruel;’ and though he may have filial sons and affectionate grandsons, they will not be able in a hundred generations to change [the designation].
5. “This is what is intended in the words of the Book of Poetry,
2. “It is in the same way that the decaying and flourishing, the preservation and perishing, of States are determined.
3. “If the son of Heaven be not benevolent, he cannot preserve [all within] the four seas [from passing from him]. If a feudal prince be not benevolent, he cannot preserve his altars. If a noble or great officer be not benevolent, he cannot preserve his ancestral temple. If a scholar or common man be not benevolent, he cannot preserve his four limbs.
4. “Now they hate death and ruin, and yet delight in not being benevolent;—this is like hating to be drunk, and yet being strong [to drink] spirits.”
IV.1. Mencius said, “If a man love others, and no [responsive] affection is shown to him, let him turn inwards and examine his own benevolence; if he [is trying to] rule others, and his government is unsuccessful, let him turn inwards and examine his own wisdom. If he treats others politely and they do not return his politeness, let him turn inwards and examine his own [feeling of] respect.
2. “If we do not by what we do realize [what we desire], we should turn inwards, and examine ourselves in every point. When a man is himself correct, all under heaven will turn to him [with recognition and submission].
3. “It is said in the Book of Poetry,
V.1. Mencius said, “People have this common saying,—‘The kingdom, the State, the clan.’ The root of the kingdom is in the State; the root of the State is in the clan; the root of the clan is in the person.
VI. Mencius said, “The administration of government is not difficult; it lies in not offending against the great Houses. He whom the great Houses affect will be affected by the whole State; and he whom a whole State affects will be affected by all under heaven. When this is the case, [such an one’s] virtue and teachings will spread over [all within] the four seas like the rush of water.”
VII.1. Mencius said, “When right government prevails throughout the kingdom, [princes of] little virtue are submissive to those of great, and [those of] little worth to [those of] great. When bad government prevails, the small are submissive to the large, and the weak to the strong. Both these cases are [the law of] Heaven. They who accord with Heaven are preserved; they who rebel against Heaven perish.
2. “Duke King of Ts‘e said, ‘Not to be able to command [others], and further to refuse to receive their commands, is to cut one’s-self off from all intercourse with them.’ His tears flowed forth, and he gave his daughter in marriage to [the prince of] Woo.
3. “Now the small States take for their models the large States, but are ashamed to receive their commands;—this is like scholars being ashamed to receive the commands of their master.
4. “For [a prince] who is ashamed of this, the best plan is to make king Wăn his model. Let one take king Wăn as his model and in five years, if his State be large, or in seven years, if it be small, he will be sure to give law to all under heaven.
5. “It is said in the Book of Poetry,
Confucius said, ‘As [against so] benevolent [a ruler, the multitudes] could not be deemed multitudes.’ If the ruler of a State love benevolence, he will have no opponent under heaven.
6. “Now-a-days, they wish to have no opponent under heaven, but [they do] not [seek to attain this] by being benevolent;—this is like trying to hold a heated substance, without having dipped it in water. It is said in the Book of Poetry,
VIII.1. Mencius said, “How is it possible to speak with [princes] who are not benevolent? Their perils they count safety, their calamities they count profitable, and they delight in the things by which they are going to ruin. If it were possible to talk with them who [so] violate benevolence, how should we have such ruin of States and destruction of families?
2. “There was a boy singing,
3. “Confucius said, ‘Hear what he says, my children:—when clear, to wash the cap strings; when muddy, to wash the feet.’ [This different application] is brought [by the water] on itself.
4. “A man must [first] despise himself, and then others will despise him. A family must [first] overthrow itself, and then others will overthrow it. A State must [first] smite itself, and then others will smite it.
5. “This is illustrated by the passage in the T‘ae-këah, ‘Calamities sent by Heaven may be avoided; but when we bring on the calamities ourselves, it is not possible to live.’ ”
IX.1. Mencius said, “Këeh and Chow’s losing the kingdom arose from their losing the people; and to lose the people means to lose their hearts. There is a way to get the kingdom;—get the people, and the kingdom is got. There is a way to get the people;—get their hearts, and the people are got. There is a way to get their hearts;—it is simply to collect for them what they desire, and not to lay on them what they dislike.
2. “The people turn to a benevolent [rule] as water flows downwards, and as wild beasts run to the wilds.
3. “Accordingly [as] the otter aids the deep waters, driving the fish to them, and [as] the hawk aids the thickets, driving the little birds to them, [so] did Këeh and Chow aid T‘ang and Woo, driving the people to them.
4. “If among the present rulers throughout the kingdom there were one who loved benevolence, all the [other] princes would aid him by driving the people to him. Although he wished not to exercise the royal sway, he could not avoid doing so.
5. “The case of [one of the] present [princes] wishing to attain to the royal sway is like the having to seek for mugwort three years old to cure a seven years’ illness. If it have not been kept in store, the whole life may pass without getting it. If [the princes] do not set their minds on a benevolent [government], all their days will be in sorrow and disgrace, till they are involved in death and ruin.
6. “This is illustrated by what is said in the Book of Poetry,
X.1. Mencius said, “With those who do violence to themselves it is impossible to speak. With those who throw themselves away it is impossible to do anything. To disown in his conversation propriety and righteousness is what we mean by saying of a man that he does violence to himself; that [he says], ‘I am not able to dwell in benevolence and pursue the path of righteousness’ is what we mean by saying of a man that he throws himself away.
2. “Benevolence is the tranquil habitation of man, and righteousness is his straight path.
3. “Alas for those who leave the tranquil dwelling empty and do not reside in it, and who neglect the straight path and do not pursue it!”
XI. Mencius said, “The path [of duty] is in what is near, and [men] seek for it in what is remote. The work [of duty] is in what is easy, and [men] seek for it in what is difficult. If each man would love his parents, and show the due respect to his elders, all-under-heaven good order would prevail.”
XII.1. When those occupying inferior situations do not obtain the confidence of their superior, they cannot succeed in governing the people. There is a way to obtain the confidence of the superior;—if one is not trusted by his friends, he will not obtain the confidence of his superior. There is a way to being trusted by one’s friends;—if one do not serve his parents so as to make them pleased, he will not be trusted by his friends. There is a way to make one’s parents pleased;—if one on turning his thoughts inwards finds a want of sincerity, he will not give pleasure to his parents. There is a way to the attainment of sincerity in one’s-self;—if a man do not understand what is good, he will not attain to sincerity in himself.
2. “Therefore sincerity is the way of Heaven; and to think [how] to be sincere is the way of man.”
3. “Never was there one possessed of complete sincerity who did not move [others]. Never was there one without sincerity who yet was able to move others.”
XIII.1. Mencius said, “Pih-e, that he might avoid Chow, was dwelling on the coast of the northern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wăn, he roused himself and said, ‘Why should I not attach myself to him? I have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old.’ T‘ae-kung, that he might avoid Chow, was dwelling on the west coast of the eastern sea. When he heard of the rise of king Wăn, he roused himself and said, ‘Why should I not attach myself to him? I have heard that the chief of the West knows well how to nourish the old.’
2. “These two old men were the greatest old men in the kingdom. When they attached themselves to [king Wăn] it was [like] all the fathers in the kingdom taking his side. When the fathers of the kingdom joined him, to whom could the sons go?
3. “Were any of the princes to practise the government of king Wăn, within seven years he would be sure to be giving law to all under heaven.”
XIV.1. Mencius said, “K‘ëw acted as chief officer to the Head of the Ke family, whose [evil] ways he was unable to change, while he exacted from the people double the grain which they had formerly paid. Confucius said, ‘He is no disciple of mine. Little children, beat the drum and assail him.’
2. “Looking at the subject from this case, [we perceive that] when a ruler who was not practising benevolent government, all [his ministers] who enriched him were disowned by Confucius;—how much more [would he have disowned] those who are vehement to fight [for their ruler]! Some contention about territory is the ground on which they fight, and they slaughter men till the fields are filled with them; or they fight for the possession of some fortified city, and slaughter men till the walls are covered with them. This is what is called ‘leading land on to devour human flesh.’ Death is not enough for such a crime.
3. “Therefore those who are skilful to fight should suffer the highest punishment. Next to them [should be punished] those who unite the princes in leagues; and next to them, those who take in grassy wastes, and impose the cultivation of the ground [upon the people].”
XV.1. Mencius said, “Of all the parts of a man’s [body] there is none more excellent than the pupil of the eye. The pupil cannot [be used to] hide a man’s wickedness. If within the breast [all] be correct, the pupil is bright; if within the breast [all] be not correct, the pupil is dull.
2. “Listen to a man’s words, and look at the pupil of his eye;—how can a man conceal [his character]?”
XVI. Mencius said, “The courteous do not insult others, and the economical do not plunder others. The ruler who treats men with insult and plunders them is only afraid that they will not prove submissive to him;—how can he be regarded as courteous or economical? How can courtesy and economy be made out of tones of the voice and a smiling manner?”
XVII.1. Shun-yu K‘wăn said, “Is it the rule that males and females shall not allow their hands to touch in giving or receiving anything?” Mencius replied, “It is the rule.” “If a man’s sister-in-law be drowning,” asked K‘wăn, “shall he rescue her by the hand?” [Mencius] said, “He who would not [so] rescue his drowning sister-in-law would be a wolf. For males and females not to allow their hands to touch in giving and receiving is the [general] rule; to rescue by the hand a drowning sister-in-law is a peculiar exigency.
2. [K‘wăn] said, “Now the whole kingdom is drowning; and how is it that you, Master, will not rescue it?”
3. [Mencius] replied, “A drowning kingdom must be rescued by right principles, as a drowning sister-in-law has to be rescued by the hand. Do you, Sir, wish me to rescue the kingdom with my hand?”
XVIII.1. Kung-sun Ch‘ow said, “Why is it that the superior man does not [himself] teach his son?”
2. Mencius replied, “The circumstances of the case forbid its being done. A teacher must inculcate what is correct. Doing this, and his lesson not being learned, he follows it up with being angry; and through thus being angry, he is offended, contrary to what should be, [with his pupil]. [At the same time, the pupil] says, ‘My master inculcates on me what is correct, and he himself does not proceed in a correct path.’ Thus father and son would be offended with each other, but when father and son come to be offended with each other, the case is evil.
3. “The ancients exchanged sons, and one taught the son of another.
4. “Between father and son there should be no reproving admonitions as to what is good. Such reproofs lead to alienation; and than alienation there is nothing more inauspicious.”
XIX.1. Mencius said, “Of services which is the greatest? The service of parents is the greatest. Of charges which is the greatest? The charge of one’s self is the greatest. That those who do not fail to keep themselves are able to serve their parents is what I have heard. [But] I have never heard of any who, having failed to keep themselves, were able [notwithstanding] to serve their parents.
2. “Everything [done] is a service, but the service of parents is the root of all others. Everything [obligatory] is a charge, but the charge of one’s self is the root of all others.
3. “Tsăng-tsze, in nourishing Tsăng Seih, was always sure to have spirits and flesh provided. And when they were about to be removed, he would ask respectfully to whom [what was left] should be given. If [his father] asked whether there was anything left, he was sure to say, ‘There is.’ After the death of Tsăng Seih, when Tsăng Yuen came to nourish Tsăng-tsze, he was sure to have spirits and flesh provided; but when the things were about to be removed, he did not ask to whom [what was left] should be given, and if [his father] asked whether there was anything left, he would answer, ‘No;’—intending to bring them on again. This was what is called—‘nourishing the mouth and body.’ We may call Tsăng-tsze’s practice—‘nourishing the will.’
4. “To serve one’s father as Tsăng-tsze served his may [be pronounced filial piety].”
XX. Mencius said, “It is not enough to reprove [a ruler] on account of [his mal-employment of] men, nor to blame [errors of] government. It is only the great man who can correct what is wrong in the ruler’s mind. Let the ruler be benevolent, and all [his acts] will be benevolent. Let the ruler be righteous, and all [his acts] will be righteous. Let the ruler be correct, and everything will be correct. Once rectify the ruler, and the State will be firmly settled.”
XXI. Mencius said, “There are cases of praise which could not have been expected, and of reproach where the parties have been seeking to be perfect.”
XXII. Mencius said, “Men’s being ready with their words arises simply from their not having been reproved.”
XXIII. Mencius said, “The evil with men is that they like to be teachers of others.”
2. He came to see Mencius, who said to him, “Are you, Sir, also come to see me?” “Master, why do you use such words?” was the reply. “How many days have you been here?” asked [Mencius]. “I came [only] yesterday,” said [the other]. “Yesterday! Then is it not with reason that I thus speak?” “My lodging-house was not arranged,” urged [Yoh-ching]. “Have you heard,” said [Mencius] “that a scholar’s lodging-house must be arranged before he visits his master?”
3. [Yoh-ching] said, “I have done wrong.”
XXV. Mencius, addressing the disciple Yoh-ching, said, “Your coming here in the train of Tsze-gaou was only [because of] the food and the drink [that you would so get]. I could not have thought that you, Sir, having learned the ways of the ancients, would have acted with a view to eating and drinking.”
2. “Shun married without informing his parents because of this,—lest he should have no posterity. Superior men consider that his doing so was the same as if he had informed them.”
2. “The richest fruit of wisdom is this,—the knowing those two things and not departing from them. The richest fruit of propriety is this,—the ordering and adorning those two things. The richest fruit of music is this,—the joying in those two things. When joyed in, they grow. Growing, how can they be repressed? When they come to this state that they cannot be repressed, then unconsciously the feet begin to dance and the hands to move.”
XXVIII.1. Mencius said, “[Suppose the case of] all under heaven turning with great delight to an individual to submit to him. To regard all under heaven [thus] turning to him with delight but as a bundle of grass;—only Shun was capable of this. [He considered that] if [one] could not get [the hearts of] his parents he could not be considered a man, and if he could not get to an entire accord with his parents, he could not be considered a son.
2. “By Shun’s completely fulfilling the duty of serving parents, Koo-sow was brought to feel delight [in what was good]. When Koo-sow was brought to feel delight [in what was good], all under heaven were transformed. When Koo-sow was brought to feel delight [in what was good], all fathers and sons under heaven were established [in their respective duties]. This may well be called great filial piety.”
[Ch. I. ]There is an art of government, as well as a wish to govern well, to be learned from the example and principles of the ancient kings, and which must be studied and practised by rulers and their ministers.
[Par. 1. ] Le Low, called also Le Choo, carries us back to the highest Chinese antiquity. He was, it is said, of the time of Hwang-te, and so acute of vision that at the distance of a hundred paces he would see the point of the smallest hair. Kung-shoo, named Pan, was a celebrated mechanist of Loo, contemporary with Confucius, if, as some think, he was a son of duke Ch‘aou. He is fabled to have made birds of bamboo which could continue flying for three days, and other marvellous contrivances. He is now the tutelary spirit of carpenters, under the name of Loo Pan or Pan of Loo; but many critics contend that the Kung-shoo of Mencius and Loo Pan ought not to be identified. See the Le Ke, II. ii. II. 21. Kwang, styled Tsze-yay, was a famous music-master of Tsin, a little before the time of Confucius. There is an interesting conversation between him and the marquis of Tsin in the Tso Chuen, under the 14th year of duke Seang. The pitch-tubes, here called “six,” by synecdoche for “twelve,” were invented in the earliest times, to determine by their various lengths the notes of the musical scale, and for other purposes. See some account of them under par. 8 in the Shoo, II. i. “The five notes” are the five full notes of the octave, omitting the semitones. The word “principles” in the phrase, “the principles of Yaou and Shun,” must be taken vaguely, and as meaning simply the wish to govern rightly, subsequently embodied in “benevolent government,” such as Mencius delighted to dwell on in many chapters of the previous Books. The use of “principles,” however, in this vague and uncertain way, introduces an inconsistency and ambiguity into the chapter. Mencius exhorts to follow the ways or “principles” of the ancient kings, and yet they are here said to be insufficient for good government.
[Par. 2. ] One of the early commentators of the Sung dynasty refers to king Seuen of Ts‘e of I. i. VII. et al., as an instance of the rulers who have a benevolent heart, and to the first emperor of the Leang dynasty, (ad 502—549), whose Buddhistic scrupulosity about taking life made him have a reputation for benevolence. Yet the heart of the one and the reputation of the other proved of little benefit to their people.
[Par. 3. ] “Goodness alone” is the benevolent heart without the method. “Laws alone” is the benevolent government without the heart.
[Par. 4. ] See the She, III. ii. V. 2.
[Par. 5. ] According to the views of Chinese writers, the lever was the first of the mechanical powers which was invented. “The lever revolving produced the circle. The circle produced the square. The square produced the line; and the line produced the level.” On government as “not bearing to witness the sufferings of men,” see II. i. VI.
[Par. 6. ] The saying is found in the Le Ke, X. ii. 10.
[Par. 7. ] The “therefore” expresses a consequence from what has been said in all the previous paragraphs. “High stations” should perhaps be “the highest station.” The ruler is indicated.
[Par. 8. ] is an illustration of the concluding clause of par. 7, showing how wickedness flows downwards, with its consequences.
[Par. 10. ] See the She, III. ii. X. 2.—From this paragraph Mencius has the ministers of a ruler in view. They have their duties to perform, in order that the benevolent government may be realized.
[Par. 13. ] Compare II. ii. II. 4.
[Ch. II. ]A continuation of last chapter.—That Yaou and Shun were perfect models for rulers and ministers, and the consequences of not imitating them.
[Par. 1. ] The “human relations” are the five specified in III. i. IV. 8. “The sages,” according to this par., were not only models for rulers and ministers, but showed human nature in all its relations according to its ideal.
[Par. 2. ] We have no particular account of how Shun discharged his duties as a minister, nor of how Yaou discharged his as a ruler. All our information about them is comprised in a short space at the beginning of the Shoo. We must believe that Shun was all that a minister could be, and Yaou all that a ruler could be.
[Par. 3. ] This is a saying of Confucius for the preservation of which we are indebted to Mencius. By the course of benevolence is intended the imitation of Yaou and Shun; by its opposite the neglect of them as models.
[Par. 4. ] By rulers who carry oppression to the highest pitch Mencius intends Keeh and Chow, the last sovereigns of the Hea and Yin dynasties; by “The Dark” and “The Cruel,” he intends the twelfth and tenth kings of the Chow dynasty, who received those posthumous, but indelible, designations.
[Par. 5. ] See the She, III. iii. I. 6.
[III. ]Ch III. The importance to all, but especially to rulers, of exercising benevolence.
[Par. 1. ] “The three dynasties” are of course those of Hëa, Shang or Yin, and Chow. It is a bold utterance, seeing that the dynasty of Chow was still existing in the time of Mencius; but he regarded it as old and ready to vanish away.
[Par. 3. ] “The four seas” is here equivalent to “all beneath the sky,” which means the empire or kingdom of China. See on the Shoo, II. i. 13. “The altars” are in the Chinese text specifically those to the spirits of the land and the grain. The phrase is here equivalent to “his State.”
[Par. 4. ] has for its subject the princes of Mencius’ time.
[Ch. IV. ]With what measure a man metes it will be measured to him again; and consequently before a man deals with others, expecting them to be affected by him, he should first deal with himself. The sentiment is expressed quite generally, but a particular reference is to be understood to the princes of the time. The lines quoted are from the She, III. i. I. 6. They were adduced before in II. i. IV. 6.
[Ch. V. ]The great thing to be attended to is the cultivation of personal character. I think this is the idea which Mencius had in mind in the words given here. The common saying to which he refers was good so far as it went, but it did not go far enough. His course of thought is followed out to greater length in “The Great Learning” See the 4th par. of the Confucian Text there, and many passages of the Commentary.
[Ch. VI. ]The importance to a ruler of securing the submission and esteem of the great Houses in his State.
The ruler’s “not offending the great Houses” means his not doing anything that will excite their resentment, but commanding their loyal attachment by his personal character and his administration. Choo He refers, in illustration of the sentiment, to a story about duke Hwan of Ts‘e which we find in one of the works of Lew Heang. The duke, we are told, came one day in hunting to the district of Mih-k‘ew, and lighted on an old man, who said, in answer to his inquiry, that he was 83. “A beautiful old age,” said the duke. “Pray that I may be blessed with an equal longevity.” The old man accordingly prayed, “May his lordship, my ruler, live to a very great age, despising gold and gems, and counting men his jewels!” The duke said, “Good! But the highest virtue is not found alone; good words must be repeated. Do you, Sir, pray for me a second time.” The man did so, saying, “May his lordship, my ruler, not be ashamed to learn, nor dislike to ask his inferiors, have men of worth by his side, and give access to such as will admonish him!” The duke expressed his satisfaction with this prayer in nearly the same terms as before, and asked the old man to pray for him a third time. The man complied, and said, “May his lordship, my ruler, not offend against his ministers and the people!” The duke changed colour at these words, and said, “I have heard that a son may offend against his father, and a minister against his ruler, but I have not heard of a ruler’s offending against his minister;—this prayer is not of a piece with the two former ones. Please to change it”. The old man knelt down in obeisance, and then stood up and said, “This prayer is superior to the two former ones A son who has offended against his father may apologize through his aunts and uncles, and the father can forgive him. A minister who has offended against his ruler may apologize through his ruler’s familiar attendants, and be forgiven. But when K‘eeh offended against T‘ang, and Chow offended against king Woo, these were cases of rulers offending against their nobles. There were none through whom they could apologize; the offences were never forgiven, and the retribution for them continues to the present day.” The duke acknowledged the truth of what the man said, and showed to him great honour.
[Ch. VII. ]The will of Heaven in regard to the subjection of one State to another is variously indicated, and depends on certain conditions, which existing, the result cannot be avoided. A prince’s only security for safety and prosperity is in being benevolent.
[Par. 1. ] “Both these cases are [the law of] Heaven:”—Heaven, it is said, embraces here the ideas of what must be in reason, and the different powers of the contrasted States. This is true; in a virtuous age, the greatest virtue will influence the most, and in a bad age, the greatest strength will prevail. But why sink the idea of a Providential government which is implied in “Heaven”?
[Par. 2. ] Duke King of Ts‘e has been mentioned already in I. ii. IV. 4, et al. The affair here referred to does not appear in the Tso Chuen, but is mentioned by Lew Heang and other writers. The duke, it appears, purchased peace from Hoh-leu, king of Woo as he called himself, by sending his daughter to Woo to be married to his son. Woo, corresponding to the northern part of Cheh-keang and the south of Keang-soo, was still considered a barbarous State in the time of Confucius, and the civilized States of Chow were ashamed to have dealings with it on equal terms. The princess of Ts‘e mentioned here soon pined away and died, and was followed to the grave ere long by her husband, the old barbarian king showing much sympathy with her case.
[Par. 3. ] The smaller States followed the example of the larger in what was evil, and yet were ashamed to submit to them.
[Parr. 4, 5. ] See the She, III. i. I. stt 4, 5. We are to understand that the remark of Confucius was made on reading the stanzas of the ode just referred to:—Against a benevolent prince, like king Wăn, the myriads of the adherents of the Shang dynasty ceased to be myriads. They would not act against him.
[Par. 6. ] See the She, III. iii. III. 5, with the remarks which I have there made in Vol. IV., of my larger Work, on the passage.
[Ch. VIII. ]That a prince is the agent of his own ruin by his vicious ways and his refusing to be counselled.
[Par. 2. ] The name Ts‘ang-lang is found applied to different streams. One is mentioned in the Shoo, III. i. Pt II. 8; but the one in the text was probably in Shan-tung, in the present district of Yih, department Yen-chow.
[Par. 3. ] The boy was singing without any thought of the meaning which the sage could find in his words, and of the expansion of that meaning which our philosopher would give.
[Par. 5. ] See on II. i. IV. 6.
[Ch. IX. ]Being benevolent is the sure way for a ruler to rise to the height of the royal dignity; and is moreover the only way to avoid death and ruin.
[Par. 1. ] Choo He illustrates what is said here about getting the people’s hearts by what we find in the Biographies of the Books of Han about Ch‘aou Ts‘oh, who is mentioned in the Prolegomena to the Shoo, in my larger Work, p. 16, in connexion with the recovery of some of the books of that classic through the scholar Fuh-săng. The tranquillity of the kingdom, according to Ts‘oh, depended on its government being administered in harmony with the feelings of the people. “By those feelings,” said Ts‘oh, “people are desirous of longevity, and the three kings cherished the people’s lives and allowed no injury to happen to them. They are desirous of riches, and the three kings were generous, and subjected them to no straits. They are desirous of security, of ease, &c., and the three kings secured to them the enjoyment of these.”
[Par. 5. ] The down of the mugwort burnt on the skin was and is used for purposes of cautery. The older the plant, the more valuable for this application. And the longer any disease in which it could be employed had existed, the more desirable it was to get the most effectual remedy for it. The kingdom and each State had long been suffering from cruel and oppressive government, and their cure must come from a benevolent rule long pursued and consolidated. This seems to be Mencius’ idea.
[Par. 6. ] See the She, III. iii. III. 5. The lines immediately follow the two quoted at the end of ch. vii.
[Ch. X. ]A warning to the violently evil and the weakly evil. Choo He concludes his comments here with the words:—“This chapter tells us that the principles of rectitude and virtue do originally belong to human nature, while men extinguish them by their voluntary act. Profound is the caution here conveyed by the sages and worthies, and learners ought to give the most earnest heed to it.”
[Ch. XI. ]The way of duty is not far to seek; and the tranquil prosperity of the kingdom depends on the discharge of the common relations of life. Compare the 12th, 13th, and several other chapters of “The Doctrine of the Mean.”
[Ch. XII. ]The great work of every man should be to try to attain complete sincerity in himself, which will give him a far-reaching power over others. Compare the 17th and 18th paragraphs of the 20th chapter of “The Doctrine of the Mean,” which are here substantially quoted. As that chapter, however, is also found in the “Family Sayings,” Mencius may have had the fragmentary memorabilia of Confucius, from which that compilation was made, before him, and not the Chung Yung.
[Ch. XIII. ]the government of king Wăn in its aspect towards the aged and helpless; and the influence which any government like it would produce.
[Par. 1. ] Pih-e;—See II. i. II. 22, IX. i.; III. ii. X. 3. What is here called the northern sea must be, I think, the northern part of the gulf of Pih-chihle. T‘ae-kung is Leu Shang, a great counsellor of the kings Wăn and Woo. He claimed to be descended from one of Yu‘s assistants in the regulation of the waters, from whom he had the surname of Këang; and some member of the family had been invested with the principality of Leu, so that Leu became a clan-name or second surname of his descendants. The legend goes that king Wăn first met with T‘ae-kung as a fisherman on the banks of the Wei, which is not according to the account of Mencius here, which would make us suppose that he was living somewhere in the east of the present Shantung when he went over to the side of Wăn. King Wăn had been warned by an oracle that he was to meet with a powerful assistant on the day that he encountered T‘ae-kung, and accordingly he said to him, “My grandfather expected you long,” which led to his being called T‘ae-kung Wang, or “Grandfather Hope.” Though Pih-e and T‘ae-kung are here represented as led to king Wăn in the same way, their subsequent course and relation to the new dynasty of Chow were very different. Pih-e would not sanction the overthrow of the Shang dynasty, while T‘ae-kung acted an important part in that achievement, and was rewarded with the marquisate of Ts‘e. Wăn is here styled “Chief of the West,” because he was appointed by the sovereign of Shang his viceroy or chief over all the States in that part of the kingdom. Wăn’s government is spoken of here only in its relation to the aged, but we must consider that term as embracing other helpless classes;—see the decription in I. ii. V. 3.
[Par. 2. ] On this par. the “Daily Explanation” says:—“Moreover these two old men were not ordinary men. Distinguished alike by age and virtue, they were the greatest old men of the kingdom. Fit to be so named, the hopes of all looked to them, and the hearts of all were bound to them. All under heaven looked up to them as fathers, and felt as their children, so that when they were moved by the government of king Wăn, and came to him from the coasts of the sea, how could the children leave their fathers and go to any other?”
[Par. 3. ] Compare what Confucius says of the results which he could produce if he were put in charge of the government of a State, in Ana. XIII. x., et al.
[Ch. XIV. ]Against the ministers of the time, who pursued their warlike and other schemes, regardless of the lives and happiness of the people.
[Par. 1. ] For the case of K‘ëw or Yen Yew, see the Ana. XI. xvi. See also the last narrative of the Tso Chuen under the 11th year of duke Gae.
[Par. 2. ] “Leading on land to devour human flesh;” this is a striking variation of the language in I. i. IV. 4, et al.
[Par. 3. ] Here we have three classes of adventurers who were rife in Mencius’ times, and who recommended themselves to the princes of the States in the ways described, pursuing the while their own ends, and regardless of the people. Some advanced themselves by their skill in war; some by their talents for intrigue, forming confederacies among the States, especially to oppose the encroachments of Ts‘in; and some by their plans to make the most of the ground, turning every bit of it to account, but for the good of the ruler, not of the people.
[Ch. XV. ]The pupil of the eye the index of the mind and heart. This chapter is to be understood as spoken by Mencius for the use of those who thought they had only to hear men’s words to judge of them. Compare Ana. II. x.
[Ch. XVI. ]Deeds, not words or manner, necessary to prove mental qualities. The first sentence is as general in the original as in the translation, but all the Chinese critics say that the statements are to be understood of the princes of Mencius’ time, who made great pretensions to courtesy and economy, of which their actions proved the insincerity. But I think the propositions in the first sentence are quite general. Our philosopher proceeds to make the application of them.
[Ch. XVII. ]Help—effectual help—can be given to the world only in harmony with right and propriety.
[Par. 1. ] Shun-yu K‘wăn was a native of Ts‘e, a famous sophist, and otherwise a man of note in his day. See his biography in the 126th Book of the “Historical Records.” He here tries to entrap Mencius into a confession that he did not do well in maintaining the dignity of reserve, which marked him in his intercourse with the princes. For the rule of propriety referred to, see the Le Ke, I. ii. 31.
[Par. 3. ] Choo He expands here:—“The drowning kingdom can be rescued only by right principles;—the case is different from that of a drowning sister-in-law who can be rescued with the hand. Now you, wishing to rescue the kingdom, would have me, in violation of right principles, seek alliance with the princes, and so begin by losing the means wherewith it might be rescued;—do you wish to make me rescue the kingdom with the hand?” I do not see the point of the last question.
[Ch. XVIII. ]The reason why a father should not himself undertake the teaching of his son. But the assertion of Kung-sun Ch‘ow is not to be taken in all its generality. Confucius taught his son, and so did other famous men their sons. Of the statement in par. 3. about the custom of antiquity I have not been able to find any proof or illustration.
[Par. 2. ] “The circumstances of the case” here refer to that of a stupid or perverse child.
[Par. 3. ] The commentators all say that “the exchanging of sons” merely means that the ancients sent out their sons to be taught away from home by masters. It is difficult to see what else the expression can mean, though this is explaining away the force of the term “exchanged.”
[Ch. XIX. ]The importance of serving one’s parents, and how the duty should be performed. In order to discharge it we must watch over ourselves. Illustrated in the cases of Tsăng-tsze and his son.
[Par. 1. ] By “services” we are to understand the duties of service which a man has to render to others, and by “charges,” what a man has to guard and keep. The “keeping one’s self” is the holding one’s self aloof from all unrighteousness.
[Par. 2. ] “The service of parents” is represented as the “root of all other services,” according to the Chinese doctrine of filial piety;—see the “Classic of Filial Piety,” passim. There is more truth in the 2nd part of the paragraph.
[Par. 3. ] Seih was the father of the more celebrated Tsăng-tsze, or Tsăng Sin;—see the Ana. XI. xxv. “Nourishing the will” means gratifying, carrying out, and fostering the father’s wishes.
[On par. 4. ] Choo He quotes the following words from one of the brothers Ch‘ing:—“To serve one’s father as Tsăng Sin did his may be called the height of filial piety, and yet Mencius says only that it might be accepted as that virtue. Did he really think that there was something supererogatory in Tsăng’s service?” Possibly Mencius may have been referring to Tsăng’s-tsze’s disclaimer of being considered a model of filial piety. See the Le Ke, XXI. ii. 14, where Tsăng-tsze says, “What the superior man calls filial piety is to anticipate the wishes and carry out the mind of one’s parents, always leading them on in what is right and true. I am only one who nourishes his parents;—how can I be deemed filial?”
[Ch. XX. ]A truly great minister will direct his efforts not so much to correct errors in matters of detail, as to correct his ruler’s character, from which all benefits will accrue to the State. The sentiment of the chapter is illustrated by an incident related of Mencius in one of the Books of Seun K‘ing;—“Mencius having had three interviews with the king of Ts‘e without speaking to him of any particular affair, his disciples were troubled, but the philosopher said to them, ‘I must first attack his wayward mind.’ ”
[Ch. XXI. ]Praise and blame are sometimes given without any proper ground for them.
[Ch. XXII. ]When a man is reproved for light speech, he does not so readily repeat the offence. Choo He supposes that the remark here was made with some particular reference.
[Ch. XXIII. ]Be not many masters. The tendency here rebuked indicates, it is said, a self-sufficiency, which puts an end to self-improvement.
[Ch. XXIV. ]How Mencius reproved Yoh-ching for associating with an unworthy man of position, and being remiss on waiting on himself, his master.
[Par. 1. ] Yoh-ching;—see I. ii. XVI. 2. Tsze-gaou was the designation of Wang Hwan mentioned in II. ii. VI. From that chapter we may understand that Mencius would not be pleased with one of his disciples who associated with such a person.
We must understand that Tsze-gaou had gone on a mission from Ts‘e to Loo, and that Yoh-ching took the opportunity to go in his train back with him to Ts‘e, pretending that he wished to see his master Mencius.
[Par. 2. ] Chaou K‘e understands the word which I have rendered yesterday to mean—“formerly,” “some days ago.” It may have that meaning, but it is undoubtedly used for “yesterday,” in II. ii. II. 2, and the whole par here has more force by giving to it that meaning. We see what respectful attention to himself Mencius exacted from his followers.
[Ch. XXV. ]Further and more direct reproof of Yoh-ching. The terms used here for “eating and drinking” are both contemptuous,=our application of “the loaves and fishes.”
[Ch. XXVI. ]Shun’s extraordinary way of contracting marriage justified by the motive, which was to raise up posterity to his parents.
[Par. 1. ] The two other things which are unfilial are, according to Chaou K‘e, 1st, by a flattering assent to encourage parents in unrighteousness, and 2nd, not to succour their poverty and old age by engaging in official service. To be without posterity is greater than those faults, because it is an offence against the whole line of ancestors, and brings the sacrifices to them to an end. In ii. XXX. 2, Mencius specifies five things which were commonly deemed unfilial, and not one of these three is amongst them. The sentiment here is to be understood as spoken from the point of view of the superior man, and moreover as laying down the ground for the vindication of Shun.
[Par. 2. ] See the account of Shun’s marriage at the end of the first Book of the Shoo. From that we might give a different reason for his contracting it from that which Mencius assigns. He intimates that Shun’s parents were so hostile to him, that they would have forbidden his marriage, if he had told them about it.
[Ch. XXVII. ]Filial piety and fraternal affection in their relation to benevolence, righteousness, wisdom, propriety, and music.
[Par. 1. ] Benevolence, righteousness, &c., are the principles of filial piety and fraternal affection,—the capabilities of them in human nature, which may have endless manifestations, but are chiefly and primarily to be seen in those two virtues.
[Par. 2. ] The introduction of the subject music here strikes us as strange. A commentator tries to explain it in the following way;—“Benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom are the four virtues, but Mencius here proceeds to speak of music also. And the principles of music are really a branch of propriety, and when the ordering and adorning, which belong to that, are perfect, then harmony and pleasure spring up as a matter of course. In this way we have propriety mentioned first and then music. Moreover, the fervency of benevolence, the exactness of righteousness, the clearness of knowledge, and the firmness of maintenance must all have their depth manifested in music. If this chapter had not spoken of music, we should not have seen the whole amount of achievement.”
[Ch. XXVIII. ]How Shun valued filial piety more than the possession of the empire, and exemplified it till he wrought a glorious change in his father’s character.
[Par. 1. ] The first sentence is to be understood as of general application, and not with reference to Shun simply. It is incomplete. The conclusion of it would be something like—“this would be accounted the greatest happiness and glory.” Choo He and others endeavour to find in the “getting to an entire accord with his parents” the bringing them to accord with what is right, so as then fully to accord with them.
[Par. 2. ] Shun’s father is known in history by the name of Koo-sow. The characters representing those sounds both denote “blind” or rather “eyeless,” and K‘ung Gan-kwoh says that the individual in question was so styled because of his mental blindness and opposition to all that was good.