Front Page Titles (by Subject) LE LOW. PART II. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius
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LE LOW. 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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LE LOW. PART II.
2. “King Wăn was born in K‘e-chow and died in Pieh-ying;—a man [from the country] of the wild tribes on the west.
3. “Those regions were distant from each other more than a thousand le, and the age of the one [sage] was posterior to that of the other more than a thousand years. But when they got their wish and carried out [their principles] throughout the middle States, it was like uniting the two halves of a seal.
4. “[When we examine] the sages—the earlier and the later—their principles are found to be the same.”
2. Mencius said, “It was kind, [but showed that] he did not understand the practice of government.
3. “In the eleventh month of the year the foot-bridges should be completed, and the carriage-bridges in the twelth month, and the people will [then] not have the trouble of wading.
4. “Let a governor conduct his rule on the principles of equal justice, and he may cause people to be removed out of his path when he goes abroad; but how can he convey everybody across the rivers?
5. “Thus if a governor will [try] to please everybody, he will find the days not sufficient [for his work].”
III.1. Mencius addressed himself to king Seuen of Ts‘e, saying, “When a ruler regards his ministers as his hands and feet, they regard him as their belly and heart; when he regards them as his dogs and horses, they regard him as they do any ordinary man; when he regards them as the ground or as grass, they regard him as a robber and an enemy.”
2. The king said, “According to the rules of propriety, [a minister] should wear mourning [when he hears of the death of] a ruler whose service he had left;—how must [the ruler] have regarded him that [the minister] shall thus wear mourning for him?”
3. Mencius said, “The admonitions [of a minister] having been followed and his advice listened to, so that blessings have descended on the people, if for some cause he leaves [the State], the ruler sends an escort to conduct him beyond the boundaries, and also sends before him [a recommendatory notice of him] to the State to which he is proceeding. When he has been gone three years and does not return, [only] then does he take back his fields and residence. This treatment is what we call ‘a thrice-repeated display of consideration.’ When a ruler acts thus, mourning will be worn [on hearing of his death].
4. “Now-a-days the remonstrances of a minister are not followed, and his advice is not listened to, so that no blessings descend on the people. When for any cause he leaves the State, the ruler tries to seize and hold him as a prisoner. He also pushes him to extremity in the State to which he has gone, and on the day of his departure he takes back his fields and residence. This treatment shows [the ruler] to be what we call ‘a robber and an enemy;’—how can mourning be worn for ‘a robber and an enemy’?”
IV. Mencius said, “When inferior officers are put to death without any crime, it is [time] for the great officers to leave [the State]. When the people are slaughtered without any cause, it is [time] for the inferior officers to remove.”
V. Mencius said, “If the ruler be benevolent, all will be benevolent; if the ruler be righteous, all will be righteous.”
VI. Mencius said, “Acts of propriety which are not [really] proper, and acts of righteousness which are not [really] righteous, the great man does not do.”
VII. Mencius said, “Those who keep the Mean train up those who do not, and those who have ability train up those who have not, and therefore men rejoice in having fathers and elder brothers of virtue and talent. If those who keep the Mean spurn those who do not, and those who have ability spurn those who have not, then the space between them—those who have the virtue and talents and those who are inferior to them—will not amount to an inch.”
VIII. Mencius said, “When men have what they will not do, they are prepared to act in what they do do [with effect].”
IX. Mencius said, “What future misery are they sure to have to endure who talk of what is not good in others!”
X. Mencius said, “Chung-ne did not do extraordinary things.”
XI. Mencius said, “The great man does not think before hand of his words that they shall be sincere, nor of his actions that they shall be resolute;—he simply [speaks and does] what is right.”
XII. Mencius said, “The great man is he who does not lose his child’s heart.”
XIII. Mencius said, “The nourishment of the living is not fit to be accounted the great thing. It is only in performing their obsequies when dead that we have what can be considered the great thing.”
XIV. Mencius said, “The superior man makes profound advances [in what he is learning], and by the proper course, wishing to get hold of it as in himself. Having got hold of it in himself, he abides in it quietly and firmly. Abiding in it quietly and firmly, he reposes a deep reliance on it. Reposing a deep reliance on it, he lays hold of it on the right and left, meeting with it as a fountain [from which things flow]. It is on this account that the superior man wishes to get hold of [what he is learning] in himself.”
XV. Mencius said, “In learning extensively and setting forth minutely [what is learned], [the object of the superior man] is to go back and set forth in brief what is essential.”
XVI. Mencius said, “Never has he who would by his excellence subdue men been able to subdue them. Let [a ruler seek] by his excellence to nourish men, and he will be able to subdue all under heaven. It is impossible that one should attain to the true royal sway to whom the hearts of all under heaven are not subject.”
XVII. Mencius said, “Words which are not true are [all] inauspicious, but those which are most truly obnoxious to the charge of being inauspicious are those which throw into the shade men of talents and virtue.”
2. Mencius replied, “How the water from a spring gushes out! It rests not day nor night. It fills up every hole, and then advances, flowing on to the four seas. Such is water having a spring! It was this which he found in it [to praise].
3. “But suppose that [the water] has no spring. In the seventh and eighth months the rain collects, and the channels in the fields are all filled, but their being dried up again may be expected in a short time. Thus it is that a superior man is ashamed of a reputation beyond the fact [of his merits].”
2. “Shun clearly understood the multitude of things, and closely observed the relations of humanity. He walked along the path of benevolence and righteousness, and did not pursue [as by any effort] benevolence and righteousness.”
2. “T‘ang held fast the Mean, and employed men of talents and virtue wherever they came from.
3. “King Wan looked on the people as [he would do with affectionate interest] on a man who was wounded; he looked towards the right path as [earnestly as] if he did not see it.
4. “King Woo did not disregard the near, nor forget the distant.
5. “The duke of Chow desired to unite in himself [the virtues of those] kings, [the founders of the] three [dynasties], that he might display in his practice [those] four things [which they did]. If [in his practice] there was anything which did not agree with them, he looked up and thought of it, from day-time into the night; and when he was fortunate enough to master [the difficulty], he sat waiting for the morning.”
XXI.1. Mencius said, “The traces of true royal rule were extinguished, and [the royal] odes ceased to be produced. When those odes ceased to be produced, then the Ch‘un Ts‘ëw was made.
2. “The Shing of Tsin, the T‘aou-wuh of Ts‘oo, and the Ch‘un Ts‘ëw of Loo were [books] of the same character.
3. “The subjects [of the Ch‘un Ts‘ëw] are Hwan of Ts‘e and Wăn of Tsin, and its style is the historical. Confucius said, ‘Its righteous decisions I ventured to make.’ ”
2. “I could not be a disciple of Confucius himself, but I have endeavoured to cultivate my virtue by means of others [who were].
XXIII. Mencius said, “When it appears proper to take [a thing], and [afterwards] not proper, to take it is contrary to moderation. When it appears proper to give [a thing], and [afterwards] not proper, to give it is contrary to kindness. When it appears proper to sacrifice one’s life, and [afterwards] not proper, to sacrifice it is contrary to bravery.”
XXIV.1. P‘ang Mung learned archery of E. When he had completely acquired all the method of E, thinking that under heaven only E was superior to himself, he slew him. Mencius said, “In this case E also was to blame. Kung-ming E [indeed] said, ‘It would appear that E was not to be blamed,’ but he [only] meant that the blame attaching to him was slight;—how can he be held to have been without any blame?
2. “The people of Ch‘ing sent Tsze-choh Yu-tsze to make an incursion into Wei, which sent Yu Kung-sze to pursue him. Tsze-choh Yu-tsze said, ‘To-day I feel unwell, and cannot hold my bow;—I am a dead man.’ [At the same time] he asked his driver who was his pursuer; and being told that it was Yu Kung-sze, he said, ‘I shall live.’ The driver said, ‘Yu Kung-sze is the best archer of Wei, what do you mean by saying that you shall live?’ ‘Yu Kung-sze,’ replied he, ‘learned archery from Yin Kung-t‘o, who again learned it from me. Yin Kung-t‘o is an upright man, and the friends of his selection must be upright [also].’ When Yu Kung-sze came up, he said, ‘Master, why are you not holding your bow?’ [Yu-tsze] answered, ‘To-day I am feeling unwell, and am unable to hold my bow.’ [Kung-sze] said, ‘I learned archery from Yin Kung-t‘o, who again learned it from you. I cannot bear to injure you with your own science. The business of today, however, is my ruler’s business, which I dare not neglect.’ He then took an arrow and knocked off the steel against his carriage-wheel. [In this way] he discharged four of them, and turned back.”
2. “Though a man be wicked, yet, if he adjust his thoughts, fast, and bathe, he may sacrifice to God.”
2. “What I hate in your wise men is their chiselling out [their conclusions]. If those wise men would act as Yu did when he conveyed away the waters, there would be nothing to dislike in their wisdom. The way in which Yu conveyed away the waters was by doing that which gave him no trouble. If your wise men would also do that which gave them no trouble, their wisdom would also be great.
3. “There is heaven so high; there are the stars and zodiacal spaces so distant. If we have investigated their phenomena, we may, while sitting [in our places], ascertain the solstices for a thousand years [past].”
XXVII.1. The officer Kung-hăng having in hand the funeral of his son, the master of the Right went to condole with him. When [this noble] entered the door, some motioned to him to come to them, and spoke with him, and others went to his place and spoke with him.
2. Mencius did not speak with him, on which the master of the Right was displeased, and said, “All the gentlemen have spoken with me. There is only Mencius who has not spoken with me, thereby slighting me.”
3. When Mencius heard of this remark, he said, “According to the prescribed rules, in the court we must not change our places to speak with one another, and must not pass out of our own rank to bow to one another. I was wishing to observe these rules;—is it not strange that Tsze-gaou should think I was thereby slighting him?”
XXVIII.1. Mencius said, “That wherein the superior man is different from other men is what he preserves in his heart;—namely, benevolence and propriety.
2. “The benevolent man loves others; the man of propriety shows respect to others.
3. “He who loves others is always loved by them, and he who respects others is always respected by them.
4. “Here is a man who treats me in a perverse and unreasonable manner;—[as] a superior man, I will turn round upon myself, [and say,] ‘I must have been wanting in benevolence; I must have been devoid of propriety;—how [else] should this have happened to [me]?’
5. “Having thus examined myself, I am [specially] benevolent, and [specially] observant of propriety. If the perversity and unreasonableness of the other be still the same, [as] a superior man [I will say], ‘I must have been failing to do my utmost.’
6. “I again turn round upon myself, and proceed to do my utmost. If the perversity and unreasonableness of the other be still the same, [as] a superior man, I will say, ‘This is a man utterly lost indeed. Since he conducts him so, there is nothing to choose between him and a beast; why should I go to trouble myself about a beast?’
7. “Thus it is that the superior man has a life-long anxiety, but not one morning’s serious trouble. As to what is matter of anxiety to him, he has it [thus]:—‘Shun,’ [he says,] ‘was a man, and I also am a man. Shun gave an example to all under heaven, and [his conduct] was fit to be handed down to future ages, while I am nothing better than a villager.’ This indeed is proper matter of anxiety to him; but in what way is he anxious? Simply that he may be like Shun. As to what would be matter of serious trouble to a superior man, there is no such thing. He does nothing which is contrary to benevolence; he does nothing which is not according to propriety. Should there be one morning’s trouble, as a superior man he does not reckon it a trouble.”
2. Yen-tsze, in an age of disorder, dwelt in a mean narrow lane, having his single bamboo-dish of rice, and his single gourd-cup of water. Other men could not have endured the distress, but he did not allow his joy to be affected by it. Confucius [also] praised him.
3. Mencius said, “Yu, Tseih, and Yen Hwuy agreed in the principles of their conduct.
4. “Yu thought that if any one under heaven were drowned, it was as if he himself drowned him. Tseih thought that if any one under heaven suffered hunger, it was as if he himself famished him. It was on this account that they were so earnest.
5. “If Yu and Tseih, and Yen-tsze could have exchanged places, they would have done each what the other did.
6. “Here now in the same apartment with you are people fighting; and [you wish to] part them. Though you were to part them with your cap tied on over your hair unbound, your conduct would be allowable.
7. “If the fighting were [only] in your village or neighbourhood, and you were to go to part them with your cap [so] tied on over your hair unbound, you would be in error. Though you were to shut your door [in such a case], your conduct would be allowable.”
XXX.1. The disciple Kung-too said, “Throughout the whole State, all pronounce K‘wang Chang unfilial, and yet you, Master, keep company with him, and moreover treat him with politeness. I venture to ask why you do so.”
2. Mencius replied, “There are five things which in the common parlance of the age are said to be unfilial. The first is laziness in the use of one’s four limbs, so as not to attend to the maintenance of his parents. The second is gambling and chess-playing, and being fond of spirits, so as not to attend to the maintenance of one’s parents. The third is being fond of goods and money, and being selfishly attached to one’s wife and children, so as not to attend to the maintenance of one’s parents. The fourth is following the desires of one’s ears and eyes, so as to bring one’s parents to disgrace. The fifth is being fond of bravery, fighting and quarrelling, so as to endanger his parents. Is Chang-tsze guilty of any one of these things?
3. “Between Chang-tsze and his father there arose disagreement, he, the son, reproving his father to urge him to what was good.
4. “To urge one another by reproofs to what is good is the way of friends. But such urging between father and son is the greatest injury to the kindly feeling [that should prevail between them].
5. “Did not Chang-tsze wish to have all that belongs to [the relationships] of husband and wife, child and mother? But because he had offended his father and was not permitted to approach him, he sent away his wife and drave forth his son, and would not for all [the rest of] his life receive any cherishing attentions from them. He settled it in his mind that, if he did not act in this way, his would be the greatest of crimes. Such and nothing more is the case of Chang-tsze.”
XXXI.1. When Tsăng-tsze dwelt in Woo-shing, there came [a band of] plunderers from Yueh. Some one said [to him], “The plunderers are come; why not leave this?” [On this Tsăng-tsze left the city], saying [to the man in charge of his house], “Do not let any one lodge in my house, lest he break and injure the plants and shrubs about it.” But when the plunderers were withdrawing [he sent word], saying, “Repair the walls and roof of my house; I will return to it;” and when the plunderers had retired, he returned. His disciples said, “Since our Master was treated with so much attention and respect, for him to be the first, on the arrival of the plunderers, to go away, so as to be observed by the people, and then, on their retiring, to return, seems to us to be improper.” Shin-yew Hăng said [to them], “You do not understand this matter. Formerly, when [the house of us], the Shin-yëw, was exposed to the outbreak of the grass-carriers, there were seventy disciples in our Master’s following, and none of them took any part in the matter.”
2. When Tsze-sze was living in Wei, there came plunderers from Ts‘e. Some one said to him, “The plunderers are coming; why not leave this?” [But] Tsze-sze said, “If I go away, whom will the ruler have with him to guard [the city]?”
3. Mencius said, “Tsăng-tsze and Tsze-sze agreed in the principle of their conduct. Tsăng-tsze was a teacher;—in the position of a father or elder brother. Tsze-sze was a minister;—in a meaner position. If they could have exchanged places, each would have done what the other did.”
XXXII. The officer Ch‘oo said [to Mencius], “The king sent a person to spy out whether you, Sir, were really different from other men.” Mencius replied, “How should I be different from other men? Yaou and Shun were just the same as other men.”
XXXIII.1. “A man of Ts‘e had a wife and a concubine, and lived together with them in his house. When their good-man went out, he was sure to get himself well filled with spirits and flesh and then return, and on his wife’s asking him with whom he had been eating and drinking, they were sure to be all men of wealth and rank. The wife informed the concubine, saying, ‘When the good-man goes out, he is sure to come back having partaken plentifully of spirits and flesh, and when I ask him with whom he has been eating and drinking, they are all men of wealth and rank. And yet no men of distinction ever come [here]. I will spy out where our good-man goes.’ [Accordingly] she got up early in the morning, and privately followed the good-man to where he was going. All through the city there was nobody who stood and talked with him. At last he came to those who were sacrificing among the tombs outside the outer wall on the east, and begged what they had left. Not being satisfied, he looked round him and went to another party;—and this was the way in which he got himself satiated. His wife went home, and informed the concubine, saying, ‘It was to the good-man that we looked up in hopeful contemplation, and with whom our lot is cast for life;—and these are his ways.’ [On this] she and the concubine reviled their good-man, and wept together in the middle courtyard. [In the mean time] the good-man, knowing nothing of all this, came in with a jaunty air, carrying himself proudly to them.
2. “According to the view which a superior man takes of things, as to the ways by which men seek for riches, honours, gain, and advancement, there are few of their wives and concubines who might not be ashamed and weep together because of them.”
[I. ]Ch. 1. The agreement of sages not affected by time or place;—shown in the cases of Shun and king Wăn.
[Par. 1. ] According to Sze-ma Ts‘een, Shun was a native of K‘e-chow, for the dimensions of which see the note on the Shoo, III. i. Pt I. 2; and all the places here mentioned are referred by him to the same province. Some, however, and especially Tsăng Tsze-koo of the Sung dynasty, find Shun’s birth-place in the department of Tse-nan, Shan-tung, and this would seem to be supported by Mencius in this passage. According to Ts‘een, moreover, Shun died, when on a tour of inspection in the south, in the wild of Ts‘ang-woo, and was buried in mount Kew-e, in the present district of Ling-ling, department of Yung-chow, Hoo-nan. The discussions on the point are numerous. It was Mencius’ object to place Shun in the east, and his birth and life were in the country east from that of king Wăn. He can hardly have intended to say that Shun and Wăn were themselves men of the wild tribes of the east and west, though his words, literally taken, say so.
[Par. 2. ] K‘e-chow, or the plain of Chow at the foot of mount K‘e, was in the present department of Fung-ts‘eang, Shen-se. Peih-ying is to be distinguished from Ying, the capital of the large State of Ts‘oo. It was in the present district of Heen-ning, department Se-gan of Shen-se; and there the grave of king Wăn, or the place of it, is still pointed out.
[Par. 3. ] “The two halves of a seal:”—perhaps it would be as well to say “a tally,” or “a token.” Anciently the king delivered, as the token of investiture, one half of a tally of wood or of jade, reserving the other half in his own keeping. It was cut right through a line of characters, indicating the appointment, and the halves fitting each other when occasion required was the test of truth and identity. The formation of the character for the term shows that the tally was originally of bamboo.
[Ch. II. ]Good government lies in equal measures for the general good, and not in acts of kindness to individuals;—illustrated from the history of Tsze-ch‘an.
[Par. 1. ] Tsze-ch‘an;—see on Ana. V. xv. The Tsin and Wei were two rivers of Ch‘ing, having their rise in the Ma-ling hills in the present department of Ho-nan, Ho-nan province. They met at a certain point, after which the common stream seems to have borne the names of both its affluents. Mencius has reference to a conversation between Confucius and Tsze-yëw about Tsze-ch‘an, related in the fourth Book of the Kea Yu. The sage held that Tsze-ch‘an was kind, but only as a mother who loves but does not teach her children, and in illustration of his view says that “Tsze-ch‘an used the carriage in which he rode to convey over those who were wading through the water in the winter.”
[Par. 3. ] The 11th and 12th months here correspond to the 9th and 10th of the present calendar. Mencius is referring to a rule for the repair of the bridges on the termination of the agricultural labours of the year.
[Par. 4. ] “Removing people from the way,” when the ruler was going abroad, was also a rule of the Chow dynasty; and not only did it take effect, in the case of the ruler, but also in that of many officers and women,—see the Official Book of Chow, VII. ix.
[Ch. III. ]What treatment rulers give to their ministers will be returned to them in a corresponding behaviour.
[Par. 1. ] “As his hands and feet;” i.e., with kindness and attention. “As his belly and heart;” i.e., with watchfulness and honour. “As his dogs and horses;” i.e., without respect, but feeding them. “As any ordinary man” is, literally, “as a man of the State,” meaning without any distinction or reverence. “As the ground or as grass;”—i.e. trampling on them, and cutting them off.
[Par. 2. ] The rule here is mentioned in the 13th Book of the E. Le, or “Rules of Deportment;” but the passage is obscure. The king falls back on this rule, thinking that Mencius had expressed himself too strongly.
[Par. 3. ] “Fields” here is to be taken in the sense of revenue or emolument. The “thrice-repeated display of consideration” refers, 1st, to the escort as a protection from danger; 2nd, to the anticipatory recommendations; and 3rd, to the long-continued emoluments.
[Ch. IV. ]Prompt action is necessary at the right time. How officers may know when they should leave a State.
[Ch. V. ]The influence of the ruler’s example. See the 20th chapter of Part I. There we find the same statements, intended to stir up ministers to seek to correct the errors of their ruler.
[Ch. VI. ]Great men make no mistakes in matters of propriety and righteousness. What is proper and right at one time, it is said, may not be so at another. Respect belongs to propriety, but it may be carried so far as to amount to flattery. These are among the instances which are given of the things mentioned in this chapter.
[Ch. VII. ]If those who are more highly gifted than others do not use their gifts for the benefit of those others, they are not to be considered as superior to them.
[Ch. VIII. ]He who eschews what is wrong can do with bold decision what is right. In illustration of the sentiment here, Chaou K‘e says, “If a man will not descend to any irregular acquisition, he will be prepared to yield even a thousand chariots,” i. e., a large State.
[Ch. IX. ]Evil speaking is sure to bring with it evil consequences. Choo He supposes that the remark here was made with some particular reference.
[Ch. X. ]That Confucius kept the Mean. Compare with this the Doctrine of the Mean, XI. and XIII., and Ana. VII. xx., et al.
[Ch. XI. ]What is right is the supreme pursuit of the superior man. Compare Ana. IV. x.
[Ch. XII. ]A man is great in proportion as he is childlike. Chaou K‘e supposes that “the great man” is a ruler, and that the sentiment is that he treats his people as his children, and does not lose their hearts. The meaning given in the version is, no doubt, the correct one, and the saying is sure to suggest to my readers the words of our Saviour,—“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” With Mencius “the child’s heart” is the ideal moral condition of humanity. Choo He says on this chapter:—“The mind of the great man comprehends all changes of phenomena, and the mind of the child is nothing but a pure simplicity, free from all hypocrisy. Yet the great man is the great man, just as he is not led astray by external things, but keeps his original simplicity and freedom from hypocrisy. Carrying this out, he becomes omniscient and omnipotent, and reaches the extreme point of greatness.” We need not suppose that Mencius would himself have expanded his thought in this way.
[Ch. XIII. ]Filial piety is most surely seen in the way in which the obsequies of parents are performed.
Some critics suppose, and with reason probably, that the saying here was directed against the Mihist practice of burying the dead with a spare simplicity;—see III. i. V. 4. The funeral rites, it is said, are performed once for all; and if they are done wrong, the fault cannot be remedied.
[Ch. XIV. ]The value of learning thoroughly inwrought into the mind. One may read scores of pages in the Chinese commentators, and yet not get a clear idea in his own mind of Mencius’ teaching in this chapter. Most of them understand the subject studied to be man’s own self, and not things external to him.
[Ch. XV. ] Choo He says, and with reason apparently, that this is a continuation of the former chapter, showing that the object of the superior man, in the extensive studies which he pursues, is not vain-glory, but to get to the substance and essence of things.
[Ch. XVI. ]When people’s minds are subject to a prince, they will make him king. How their minds can be made so subject. The first utterance here is to me quite enigmatical. Paul’s sentiment, that “scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die,” occurs to the mind on reading the first and second parts; but the native commentators make the “nourishing” to have nothing to do with men’s bodies.
[Ch. XVII. ]The words which are most inauspicious are those which are intended to prevent the recognition of talents and virtue. The words of this chapter may also be translated.—“There are no words really inauspicious, but those which may really be considered inauspicious,” &c. The version which I have preferred is equally allowable.
[Ch. XVIII. ]How Mencius explained Confucius’ frequent praise of water, from the permanence of a spring-fed stream.
[Par. 1. ] See Ana. IX. xvi for instance of the sage’s praise of water.
[Par. 3. ] Here again the months must be reduced to the 5th and 6th,—those of the Chow year.
[Ch. XIX. ]That the small difference between men and animals is preserved only by superior men;—illustrated in Shun.
[Par. 1. ] Mencius has not told us in what the small point distinguishing men from birds and beasts consists. Chaou K‘e says that it is simply the interval between the knowledge of righteousness and the want of that knowledge. And this is so far correct; but this difference cannot be said to be “small.” According to Choo He, men and creatures have the le—the intellectual and moral principles—of Heaven and earth to form their nature, and the k‘e, or matter, of Heaven and earth to form their bodies, only men’s k‘e is more correct than that of animals, so that they are able to fill up the capacity of their nature. This seems to deny any essential difference between men and animals, what difference there is being merely corporeal and in degree.
[Par. 2. ] The first predicate of Shun is to me hardly intelligible; the last seems to say that benevolence and righteousness were natural to him, observed without any effort.
[Ch. XX. ]The same subject;—illustrated in Yu, T‘ang, Wăn, Woo, and the duke of Chow.
[Par. 1. ] In the “Plans of the Warring States,” it is said that “E-teih made spirits which Yu tasted and liked, but he said, ‘In after-ages there will be those who through spirits will lose their States;’ so he degraded E-teih, and refused to drink the pleasant spirits.” What we read in the Shoo, III. iii. 6, gives some countenance to this story. For his love of good words, see the Shoo, II. ii. 21.
[Par. 2. ] In illustration of what is said of T‘ang, commentators refer to the Shoo, IV. ii. 7, 8.
[Par. 3. ] For an illustration of Wăn’s fostering care of the people, see the Shoo, V. xv. 9, 10, and the She, III. i. VI., et al., for the other characteristic.
[XXI. ]Ch. XXI. This chapter is said to continue the subject of the two preceding, and to illustrate it by the case of Confucius. I confess that I am not able to trace the connexion. See what I have said on the difficulties belonging to several of the statements in the chapter in the first Book of my Prolegomena to the Ch‘un Ts‘ëw.
[Ch. XXII. ]Mencius insinuates that, though he had not been in personal contact with Confucius, he should be considered his successor. This chapter is further said to continue the subject of the three preceding, and to illustrate it in the case of Mencius himself. I should be inclined to make the former paragraph of ch. xix. a chapter by itself, and to read the other paragraph, and chapters xx., xxi., and this one, as one chapter.
[Par. 1. ] Thirty years are held to cover one generation. We might suppose that the influence of “a sovereign sage” would last longer than that of one who had no distinction of authority; but Mencius is pleased to say that it lasts only the same time.
[Par. 2. ] What Mencius is here supposed to insinuate would seem to indicate that a space of about five generations should be placed between him and Confucius.
[Ch. XXIII. ]First judgments are not always correct. Impulses must be weighed in the balance of reason, and what reason dictates should be followed.
[Ch. XXIV. ]The importance of being careful whom we make friends of. The sentiment is good, but surely Mencius might have found better illustrations of it than those which he gives.
[Par. 1. ] On E see the note to Ana. XIV. vi. Both Chaou K‘e and Choo He strangely explain P‘ang Mung as meaning Kea chung, E’s domestics. I suspect there is an error in their texts, and that we should read Kea shin = E’s “steward.” He may have been employed by the Han Tsuh in the note referred to, to do the deed. Kung-ming E has already been quoted by Mencius in III. i. I., and ii. III. and IX. The idea of Mencius was that E was to blame for having made a friend of such a man as P‘ang Mung.
[Par. 2. ] In the Tso Chuen, under the 14th year of duke Sëang, we have a narrative bearing some likeness to the account here given by Mencius, and in which Yin Kung-t‘o and a Yu Kung-ch‘ae (or ts‘ze) figure as famous archers of Wei. Yet the differences between Tso’s narrative and the text here are so great that we can hardly receive them as relating to the same passage of history.
[Ch. XXV. ]Beauty through certain accessories may be disgusting to men, and wickedness, by holy endeavour, may become acceptable to God.
[Par. 1. ] The lady Se, or if we translate the terms, “the western lady,” was a poor girl of Yueh, called She E, of surpassing beauty, presented by the king of Yueh to his enemy, the king of Woo, who became besottedly attached to her, and neglected all the duties of his government. She was contemporary with Confucius. If we may receive the works of Kwan-tsze, however, as genuine, there had been a celebrated beauty called “the western lady,” two hundred years before that time, and the lady of Yueh chose to assume her designation.
[Par. 2. ] Chaou K‘e and Choo He take the character which I have translated “wicked” in the sense of “ugly.” It may have either signification according to the context. I cannot but suppose, however, that Mencius intended it in the sense which I have given, and that his object was to encourage men to repentance and well-doing. By the law of China it was competent only for the king to sacrifice to God, and the language of our philosopher strikingly shows the virtue he attached to penitent purification.
[Ch. XXVI. ]How knowledge ought to be pursued by the careful study of phenomena. Mencius here points out correctly the path to science. The rule which he lays down is in harmony with the philosophy of Bacon; yet in China, more perhaps than in any other part of the world, the proper method has been disregarded.
[Par. 1. ] “Natures” is to be taken here quite generally, and not, as some commentators think, in the singular, referring to the nature of man. Possibly, Mencius may have had in view the discussions about human nature which were rife in his days; but he is speaking generally, and those discussions were only one perversion of the method on which he insists.
[Par. 2. ] By “chiselling or “boring” we are to understand the violent forcing out of conclusions, instead of pursuing the inductive method. Yu’s operations gave him abundance of trouble; what Mencius means to say is that they were all in harmony with the nature and circumstances of the waters, which he was labouring to reduce.
[Par. 3. ] Compare the language of the 1st sentence of par. 9 in the 26th chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean. The solstices referred to are those of winter. Most modern commentators hold that one solstice is intended,—that from which the Chinese cycle dates its commencement, when the sun, moon, and planets are all supposed to have been in conjunction at midnight. This is not necessary.
[Ch. XXVII. ]How Mencius would not imitate others in paying court to a favourite, and how he excused himself.
[Par. 1. ] Many think that the death which gave occasion to what is here related was that of the officer Kung-hăng himself. The view which I have followed is more in accordance with the Chinese text. The master of the Right was the Wang Hwan of II. ii. 6, and the Tsze-gaou of XXIV. and XXV. of the first Part of this Book. He was a man with whom our philosopher would have nothing to do.
[Par. 3. ] The officers were not now “in the court,” but they had gone by the king’s order to condole with Kung-hăng, and ought therefore to have observed the rules which regulated their positions and movements when in the court. On those rules, see the Official Book of Chow, XXII. iii. 1, et al.
[Ch. XXVIII. ]How the superior man is distinguished from others by the cultivation of his moral excellence; and how in that he has his remedy against the misconduct of others to him.
Mencius shows here an admirable faith in the power of goodness to produce a corresponding response in others, and in the peace which the consciousness of having acted in kindness and righteousness will produce under the most perverse treatment.
[Ch. XXIX. ]How an underlying principle will be found to reconcile the differences in the conduct of great and good men occasioned by their different circumstances;—illustrated in the cases of Yu, Tseih, and Yen Hwuy.
[Par. 1. ] See III. i. IV. 7, et al. The thrice passing his door was peculiar to Yu, though it is here ascribed also to Tseih, or How-tseih. Their age was not one of tranquillity, but the government in it was good, and they were employed to bring it to tranquillity.
[Par. 2. ] See Ana. VI. ix.
[Parr. 6, 7. ] The rules anciently prescribed for dressing were very minute Much had to be done with the hair, before the final act of putting on the cap, with the strings tied under the chin. In the case in par. 6 all these rules are neglected. The urgency of the case, and the intimacy of the individual with the parties quarrelling, justified such neglect. This was the case of Yu and Tseih in relation to their age, while that in par. 7 is supposed to illustrate Hwuy’s relation to his.—But Mencius’ illustrations are for the most part happier than these.
[Ch. XXX. ]How Mencius explained his intercourse with a man commonly held to be unfilial. The case of K‘wang Chang.
[Par. 1. ] K‘wang Chang was an officer of Ts‘e, and had been employed in important military affairs. He commanded the troops of Ts‘e in the operations against Yen referred to in I. ii. X., et al. We have no account of the particulars of his conduct which made him be regarded throughout the State as unfilial, though perhaps a hint about them may be obtained from a narrative in the “Plans of the Warring States,” in the first Book relating to Ts‘e. It is there said that king Wei of Ts‘e appointed K‘wang Chang to command an army against Ts‘in, which was threatening the State. For some time reports were rife that Chang-tsze was playing the traitor, but king Wei refused to believe them, saying he was confident of the good faith of his general. At last news came of a great defeat inflicted on Ts‘in, and the king, being asked what had made him so trustful of K‘wang Chang, said, “Chang-tsze’s mother offended his father, and was put to death by him, and buried in a stable. When I was sending him forth on this expedition, I said that, if he conducted it vigorously, I would on his return bury his mother elsewhere, but he said that he might have done so before, but his mother having offended his father, and his father having died without giving him any instructions on the point, he did not dare to remove the body to another grave, lest he should be dealing wrongly by his deceased father. If Chang-tsze is thus faithful to his deceased father, he will not be faithless to me.” Possibly, the alienation between Chang-tsze and his father may have arisen about the latter’s putting his mother to death. Whatever was the cause of it, it is evident from what Mencius says that it did not seriously compromise his character.
[Par. 2. ] “Gambling and chess-playing;”—see on Ana. XVII. xxii. But the chess-playing could not be the game analogous to ours, for the emperor of the Chow dynasty alluded to in the note there as its inventor belonged to the latter dynasty of that name in the 10th century of our era.
[Parr. 3, 4. ] Compare Part i. XVIII. 2.
[Par. 5. ] Readers not Chinese will think that Chang’s treatment of his wife and son was more criminal than his conduct to his father.
[Ch. XXXI. ]How Mencius explained the different conduct of Tsăng-tsze and Tsze-sze in outwardly similar circumstances. Compare chapter xxix.
[Par. 1. ] Woo-shing was a city of Loo,—90 le to the south-west of the present district city of Pe, department E-chow. Tsăng-tsze had here opened a school or lecture-room in the place, having, probably, as many suppose, been invited to do so—to be “a guest and teacher”—by the commandant. It was thus in the south of the present Shan-tung province. South from it, and covering the present Këang-soo and part of Cheh-keang, were the States of Woo and Yueh, all at this time subject to Yueh. Shin-yëw Hăng is supposed to have been a disciple of Tsăng-tsze, and a native of Woo-shing. The Shin-yëw of whom he speaks must mean the head of his clan, or rather his House. When it was in peril, Tsăng-tsze’s seventy disciples would have been abundantly able to cope with the grass-carriers. That they did not attempt to do so, showed that there was some reason for his conduct more than the objectors to it saw on the surface.
[Par. 2. ] Tsze-sze of course is Confucius’ grandson. He was living in Wei, and sustaining office in it.
[Par. 3. ] We have here a striking illustration of the importance attached to the position of a “teacher,” of which I have spoken in the Prolegomena.
[Ch. XXXII. ]Sages are just like other men in their personal appearance and ordinary ways.
Ch‘oo was a minister of Ts‘e. The incident mentioned probably occurred on Mencius’ first arrival in Ts‘e, and before he had any interview with the king.
[Ch. XXXIII. ]The disgraceful means which many took to seek for wealth and honours.
[Par. 1. ] A “Mencius said” must have dropt out of the text at the beginning of this paragraph. All the commentators seem to be agreed in this. The statement that the man “lived together with his wife and concubine in the house” seems to be intended to indicate that he passed as a man of wealth, who was not engaged in trade, or any business that called him away from home. “Good-man” is equivalent to husband; so “good-man” used to be employed in Scotland.
[Par. 2. ] contains the moral and application of the narrative given in the former paragraph.
[* ]Title of the Book. The Book is named from Wan Chang, who is almost the only interlocutor with Mencius in it. He has been mentioned before in III. ii. V. The tradition is that it was in company with Wan’s disciples that Mencius, baffled in all his hopes of doing public service, and having retired into privacy, composed the seven Books which constitute his Works. The first Part of this Book is all occupied with discussions in vindication of Shun and other ancient worthies.