Front Page Titles (by Subject) KAOU-TSZE. PART I. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 2 The Life and Teachings of Mencius
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KAOU-TSZE. 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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KAOU-TSZE. PART I.
ChapterI.1. Kaou-tsze said, “[Man’s] nature is like a willow tree, and righteousness is like a cup or a bowl. The fashioning benevolence and righteousness out of man’s nature is like making cups and bowls from a willow tree.”
2. Mencius replied, “Can you, in accordance with the nature of the willow tree, make cups and bowls from it? You will do violence and injury to the tree before you can make cups and bowls from it. If you will do violence and injury to the willow tree in order to make cups and bowls, will you also do violence and injury to a man, to fashion benevolence and righteousness [from him]? Your words, alas! would certainly with all men occasion calamity to benevolence and righteousness.”
II.1. Kaou-tsze said, “[Man’s] nature is like water whirling round [in a corner]. Open a passage for it on the east, and it will flow to the east; open a passage for it on the west, and it will flow to the west. Man’s nature is indifferent to good and evil, just as water is indifferent to the east and west.”
2. Mencius replied, “Water indeed will flow indifferently to the east or west, but will it flow indifferently up or down? The [tendency of] man’s nature to goodness is like the [tendency of] water to flow downwards. There are none but have [this tendency to] goodness, [just as] water flows downwards.
3. “Now by striking water, and causing it to leap up, you may make it go over your forehead; and by damming and leading it, you may make it go up a hill; but are [such movements according to] the nature of water. It is the force applied which causes them. In the case of a man’s being made to do what is not good, his nature is dealt with in this way.”
III.1. Kaou-tsze said, “[The phænomena of] life is what I call nature.”
2. Mencius replied, “Do you say that life is nature just as you say that white is white?” “Yes,” was the reply. [Mencius asked again], “Is the whiteness of a white feather like the whiteness of white snow, and the whiteness of white snow like that of white jade?” “Yes,” returned [the other].
3. Mencius retorted, “Very well. Is the nature of a dog like the nature of an ox, and the nature of an ox like the nature of a man?”
2. Mencius said, “What is the ground of your saying that benevolence is from within, and righteousness from without?” [The other] replied, “There is a man older than I, and I give honour to his age;—it is not that there is in me a principle of reverence for age. It is just as when there is a white man, and I consider him white;—according as he is so externally to me. It is on this account that I say [of righteousness] that it is from without.”
3. [Mencius] said, “There is no difference to us between the whiteness of a white horse, and the whiteness of a white man, but I do not know that there is no difference between the regard with which we acknowledge the age of an old horse, and that with which we acknowledge the age of a man older [than ourselves]? And what is it which we call righteousness? The fact of a man’s being older [than we]? or the fact of our giving honour to his age?”
4. [Kaou] said, “There is my younger brother; I love him. But the younger brother of a man of Ts‘in I do not love; that is, it is [the relationship to] myself which occasions my complacency, and therefore I say that benevolence is from within. I give the honour due to age to an old man of Ts‘oo, and to an old man of my own [kindred]; that is, it is the age which occasions the complacency, and therefore I say that righteousness is from without.”
5. [Mencius] answered him, “Our enjoyment of meat broiled by a man of Ts‘in does not differ from our enjoyment of meat broiled by [one of] our [own kindred]. Thus [what you insist on] takes place also in the case of [such] things; but is our enjoyment of broiled meat also from without?”
2. [Kung-too] replied, “It is the acting out of our feeling of respect, and therefore it is said to be from within.”
3. [The other] said, “[In the case of] a villager one year older than your elder brother, to which of them will you show the [greater] respect?” “To my brother,” was the reply. “But for which would you pour out spirits first?” [Kung-too] said, “For the villager.” [Măng Ke then argued], “Your feeling of respect rests on the one, but your reverence for age is rendered to the other; [righteousness] is certainly determined by what is without, and not by internal feeling.”
4. The disciple Kung-too was unable to reply, and reported [the conversation] to Mencius, who said, “[You should ask him], ‘Which do you respect more, your uncle, or your younger brother?’ He will reply, ‘My uncle.’ [Ask him again], ‘If your younger brother be personating a deceased ancestor, to whom will you show respect more,—[to him or to your uncle]?’ He will say, ‘To my younger brother.’ [You can go on], ‘But where is the [greater] respect due, as you said, to your uncle?’ He will say, ‘[I show it to my younger brother,] because he is in the position [of the deceased ancestor].’ And then you must say, ‘Because he is in that position;—and so ordinarily my respect is given to my elder brother, but a momentary respect is given to the villager.’ ”
5. When Ke-tsze heard this, he observed, “When respect is due to my uncle, I give it to him; and when respect is due to my younger brother, I give it to him. The thing is certainly determined by what is without us, and does not come from within.” Kung-too replied, “In winter we drink things warm, but in summer we drink things cold; but is then our eating and drinking determined by what is external to us?”
2. “Some say, ‘[Man’s] nature may be made to do good, and it may it may be made to do evil; and accordingly, under Wăn and Woo, the people loved what was good, and under Yew and Le they loved what was cruel.’
3. “Some say, ‘The nature of some is good, and the nature of others is bad. Hence it was that under such a ruler as Yaou, there yet appeared Sëang; that with such a father as Koo-sow, there yet appeared Shun; and that, with Chow for their ruler and the son of their elder brother besides, there yet appeared K‘e, the viscount of Wei, and prince Pe-kan.’
4. “And now you say, ‘The nature is good.’ Then are all those wrong?”
5. Mencius replied, “From the feelings proper to it, [we see] that it is constituted for the doing of what is good. This is what I mean in saying that [the nature] is good.
6. “If [men] do what is not good, the guilt cannot be imputed to their natural powers.
7. “The feeling of compassionate distress belongs to all men; so does that of shame and dislike; and that of modesty and respect; and that of approving and disapproving. The feeling of compassion and distress is the principle of benevolence; the feeling of shame and dislike is the principle of righteousness; the feeling of modesty and respect is the principle of propriety; and the feeling of approving and disapproving is the principle of knowledge. Benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and knowledge are not fused into us from without; they naturally belong to us, and [a different view] is simply from want of reflection. Hence it is said, ‘Seek, and you will find them; neglect, and you will lose them.’ [Men differ from one another in regard to them]; some as much again as others, some five times as much, and some to an incalculable amount; it is because they cannot fully carry out their [natural] endowments.
8. “It is said in the Book of Poetry,
Confucius said, ‘The maker of this ode knew indeed the constitution [of our nature].’ We may thus see that to every faculty and relationship there must belong its law, and that since the people possess this normal nature, they therefore love its normal virtue.”
VII.1. Mencius said, “In good years the children of the people are most of them good, and in bad years they are most of them evil. It is not owing to their natural endowments conferred by Heaven, that they are thus different. It is owing to the circumstances in which they allow their minds to be ensnared and devoured that they appear so [as in the latter case].
2. “There now is barley.—Let the seed be sown and covered up; the ground being the same, and the time of sowing also the same, it grows luxuriantly, and when the full time is come, it is all found to be ripe. Although there may be inequalities [of produce], that is owing to [the difference of] the soil as rich or poor, to the [unequal] nourishment afforded by rain and dew, and to the different ways in which man has performed his business.
3. “Thus all things which are the same in kind are like to one another;—why should we doubt in regard to man, as if he were a solitary exception to this? The sage and we are the same in kind.
4. “In accordance with this, Lung-tsze said, ‘If a man make hempen sandals, without knowing [the size of people’s] feet, yet I know that he will not make them like baskets.’ Sandals are like one another, because all men’s feet are like one other.
5. “So with the mouth and flavours;—all mouths have the same relishes. Yih Ya [simply] appreciated before me what my mouth relishes. Suppose that his mouth, in its relish for flavours, were of a different nature from [the mouths of] other men, in the same way as dogs and horses are not of the same kind with us, how should all men be found following Yih Ya in their relishes? In the matter of tastes, the whole kingdom models itself after Yih Ya; that is, the mouths of all men are like one another.
6. “So it is with the ear also. In the matter of sounds, the whole kingdom models itself after the musicmaster Kwang; that is, the ears of all men are like one another.
7. “And so it is also with the eye. In the case of Tsze-too, there is no one under heaven but would recognize that he was beautiful. Any one who did not recognize the beauty of Tsze-too would [be said to] have no eyes.
8. “Therefore [I] say,—[Men’s] mouths agree in having the same relishes; their ears agree in enjoying the same sounds; their eyes agree in recognizing the same beauty:—shall their minds alone be without that which they similarly approve? What is it then of which their minds similarly approve? It is the principles [of things], and the [consequent determinations of] righteousness. The sages only apprehended before me that which I and other men agree in approving. Therefore the principles [of things] and [the determinations of] righteousness are agreeable to my mind just as [the flesh] of grass and grain-fed [animals] is agreeable to my mouth.”
VIII.1. Mencius said, “The trees of Nëw hill were once beautiful. Being situated, however, in the suburbs of [the capital of] a large State, they were hewn down with axes and bills; and could they retain their beauty? Still through the growth from the vegetative life day and night, and the nourishing influence of the rain and dew, they were not without buds and sprouts springing out. But then came the cattle and goats, and browsed upon them. To these things is owing the bare and stript appearance [of the hill]; and when people see this, they think it was never finely wooded. But is this the nature of the hill?
2. “And so even of what properly belongs to man; shall it be said that the mind [of any man] was without benevolence and righteousness. The way in which a man loses the proper goodness of his mind is like the way in which [those] trees were denuded by axes and bills. Hewn down day after day, can it retain its excellence? But there is some growth of its life day and night, and in the [calm] air of the morning, just between night and day, the mind feels in a degree those desires and aversions which are proper to humanity; but the feeling is not strong; and then it is fettered and destroyed by what the man does during the day. This fettering takes place again and again; the restorative influence of the night is not sufficient to preserve [the proper goodness]; and when this proves insufficient for that purpose, the [nature] becomes not much different from [that of] the irrational animals; and when people see this, they think that it never had those endowments [which I assert]. But does this condition represent the feelings proper to humanity?
3. “Therefore if it receive its proper nourishment, there is nothing which will not grow; if it lose its proper nourishment, there is nothing which will not decay away.
4. “Confucius said, ‘Hold it fast, and it remains with you; let it go, and you lose it. Its out-going and in-coming cannot be defined as to time and place.’ It was the mental nature of which this was said.”
2. “Suppose the case of the most easily growing thing in the world;—if you let it have one day’s genial heat, and then expose it for ten days to cold, it will not be able to grow. It is but seldom that I have an audience [of the king], and when I retire, there come [all] those who act upon him like the cold. Though I succeed in bringing out some buds of goodness, of what avail is it?
3. “Now chess-playing is an art, though a small one; but without his whole mind being given, and his will bent to it, a man cannot succeed in it. Chess Ts‘ëw is the best chess-player in all the kingdom. Suppose that he is teaching two men to play;—the one gives all his mind to the game, and bends to it all his will, doing nothing but listen to Chess Ts‘ëw; the other, though he [seems to] be listening to him, has his whole mind running on a swan which he thinks is approaching, and wishes to bend his bow, adjust the arrow to the string, and shoot it. Though the latter is learning along with the former, his progress is not equal to his. Is it because his intelligence is not equal? Not so.”
X.1. Mencius said, “I like fish, and I also like bears’ paws. If I cannot get both together, I will let the fish go, and take the bears’ paws. So I like life, and I also like righteousness. If I cannot keep the two together, I will let life go, and choose righteousness.
2. “I like life indeed, but there is that which I like more than life; and therefore I will not seek to hold it by any improper ways. I dislike death indeed, but there is that which I dislike more than death, and therefore there are occasions when I will not avoid calamity [that may occasion death].
3. “If among the things which man likes there were nothing which he liked more than life, why should he not use all means by which he could preserve it? If among the things which man dislikes there were nothing which he disliked more than death, why should he not do everything by which he could avoid calamity [that might occasion it].
4. “[But as man is], there are cases when by a certain course men might preserve life, and yet they do not employ it; and when by certain things they might avoid calamity [that will occasion death], and yet they will not do them.
5. “Therefore men have that which they like more than life, and that which they dislike more than death. They are not men of talents and virtue only who have this mental nature. All men have it;—what belongs to such men is simply that they are able not to lose it.
6. “Here are a small basket of rice and a basin of soup;—and the case is one where the getting them will preserve life, and the want of them will be death. If they are offered to him in an insulting tone, [even] a tramper on the road will not receive them, or if you first tread upon them, [even] a begger will not stoop to take them.
7. “[And yet] a man will accept of ten thousand chung, without any question as to the propriety and righteousness of his doing so. What can the ten thousand chung really add to him? [When he takes them], is it not that he may get beautiful mansions? or that he may secure the services of wives and concubines? or that the poor and needy of his acquaintance may be helped by him?
8. “In the former case, the [offered bounty] was not received, though it would have saved from death, and now the man takes [the emolument] for the sake of beautiful mansions. [The bounty] that would have saved from death was not received, and [the emolument] is taken to get the services of wives and concubines. [The bounty] that would have saved from death was not received, and [the emolument] is taken that one’s poor and needy acquaintances may be helped by him. Was it not possible then to decline [the emolument] in these instances? This is a case of what is called—losing the proper nature of one’s mind.”
2. “How lamentable is it to neglect this path and not pursue it, to lose this mind and not know to seek it [again].
3. “When men’s fowls and dogs are lost, they know to seek them [again]; but they lose their mind, and do not know to seek it [again].
4. “The object of learning is nothing else but to seek for the lost mind.”
XII.1. Mencius said, “Here is a man whose fourth finger is bent, and cannot be stretched out straight. It is not painful, nor does it incommode his business; but if there were any one who could make it straight, he would not think it far to go all the way from Ts‘in to Ts‘oo [to find him];—because his finger is not like those of other people.
2. “When a man’s finger is not like other people’s, he knows to feel dissatisfied; but when his mind is not like other people’s, he does not know to feel dissatisfied. This is what is called—ignorance of the relative [importance of things].”
XIII. Mencius said, “Anybody who wishes to cultivate a t‘ung tree, or a tsze, which may be grasped with the two hands, [perhaps] with one, knows by what means to nourish it; but in the case of their own persons men do not know by what means to nourish them. Is it to be supposed that their regard for their own persons is inferior to their regard for a t‘ung or a tsze? Their want of reflection is extreme.”
XIV.1. Mencius said, “Men love every part of their persons; and as they love every part, so they [should] nourish every part. There is not an inch of skin which they do not love, and so there is not an inch of skin which they will not nourish. For examining whether his [way of nourishing] be good or not, what other rule is there but simply this, that a man determine, [by reflecting] on himself, where it should be applied?
2. “Some parts of the body are noble, and some ignoble; some great, and some small. The great must not be injured for the small, nor the noble for the ignoble. He who nourishes the little belonging to him is a small man; he who nourishes the great is a great man.
3. “Here is a plantation-keeper, who neglects his woo and kea, and nourishes his small jujube trees;—he is a poor plantation-keeper.
4. “He who nourishes one of his fingers, neglecting his shoulders and back, without knowing that he is doing so, is a man [who resembles] a hurried wolf.
5. “A man who [only] eats and drinks is counted mean by others; because he nourishes what is little to the neglect of what is great.
6. “If a man, [fond of] eating and drinking, do [yet] not fail [in nourishing what in him is great], how should his mouth and belly be accounted as no more than an inch of skin?”
XV.1. The disciple Kung-too asked, saying, “All are equally men, but some are great men, and others are little men; how is this?” Mencius replied, “Those who follow that part of themselves which is great are great men; those who follow that part which is little are little men.”
2. Kung-too pursued, “All are equally men; but some follow that part of themselves which is great, and some that which is little; how is this?” Mencius said, “The ears and the eyes have it not in their office to think, and are [liable to be] obscured by things [affecting them]; and when one thing comes into contact with another, it simply leads it away. But it is in the office of the mind to think. By thinking, it gets [the right view of things]; when neglecting to think, it fails to do this. These—[the senses and the mind]—are what Heaven has given to us. Let a man first stand in [the supremacy of] the greater [and nobler] part of his constitution, and the smaller part will not be able to take it from him. It is simply this which makes the great man.”
XVI.1. Mencius said, “There is a nobility of Heaven, and there is a nobility of man. Benevolence, righteousness, self-consecration, and fidelity, with unwearied joy in the goodness [of these virtues],—these constitute the nobility of Heaven. To be a duke, a minister, or a great officer,—this constitutes the nobility of man.
2. “The men of antiquity cultivated their nobility of Heaven, and the nobility of man came in its train.
3. “The men of the present day cultivate their nobility of Heaven in order to seek for the nobility of man, and when they have obtained this, they throw away the other; their delusion is extreme. The issue is simply this, that they must lose [that nobility of man] as well.”
XVII.1. Mencius said, “To desire to be what is considered honourable is the common mind of men. And all men have what is [truly] honourable in themselves; only they do not think of it.
2. “The honour which man confers is not the truly good honour. Those to whom Chaou-măng gave honourable rank he could make mean again.
3. “It is said in the Book of Poetry
meaning that [the guests] were filled with benevolence and righteousness, and therefore did not wish for the fat meat and fine millet of men. When a good reputation and farreaching praise fall to [a man’s] person, he does not desire the elegant embroidered garments of men.”
XVIII.1. Mencius said, “Benevolence subdues its opposite just as water subdues fire. Those, however, who now-a-days practise benevolence [do it] as if with a cup of water they could save a whole waggon-load of faggots which was on fire, and when the flames were not extinguished were to say that water cannot subdue fire. Such a course, moreover, is the greatest aid to what is not benevolent.
2. “The final issue will simply be this, the loss [of that small amount of benevolence].”
XIX. Mencius said, “Of all seeds the best are the five kinds of grain, but if they are not ripe, they are not equal to the t‘e or the pae. So the value of benevolence lies simply in its being brought to maturity.”
2. “A master-workman, in teaching others, must use the compass and square, and his pupils must do the same.”
[Ch. I. ]That benevolence and righteousness are no unnatural and forced products of human nature. Choo He says that there underlies the words of Kaou here the view of human nature afterwards insisted on by the philosopher Seun (see the prolegomena), that human nature is evil. But Kaou might have disallowed such an induction from his words. Seun maintained that human nature was positively evil, and that any good in it was an artificial product. Kaou perhaps would have contended that it was like a tabula rasa, on which either good or evil might be made to appear.
[Par. 2. ] “In accordance with the nature of the willow tree;” i. e., leaving its nature untouched, doing no violence to it. “Will you also do violence and injury to a man?”—i. e. to a man’s nature, to humanity.
[Ch. II. ]That man’s nature is not indifferent to good and evil. Its proper tendency is to good. Here, it seems to me, Kaou more clearly explains what he meant in the last chapter. Choo He says, however, that his idea here was akin to that of Yang Heung, a writer about the beginning of our era. Yang held that good and evil were mixed in the nature of man, and that the passion-nature was like a horse drawing the man, according as it moved, either to good or to evil. Kaou, however, appears to have differed from him in thinking that there was neither good nor evil in the nature itself.
[Par. 1. ] The phrase which I have translated—“water whirling round” is explained in the dictionaries as “water flowing rapidly,” “water flowing quickly over sand;” and hence Julien renders it by “rapide fluens aqua.” So also Williams. Chaou K‘e, followed by Choo He, gives the meaning which I have adopted.
[Parr. 2, 3. ] Choo He says:—“This chapter tells us that the nature is properly good, so that if we accord with it, we shall do nothing but what is good; and that it is properly without evil, so that we must violate it before we do what is evil. It shows that the nature is not properly without a decided character so that it may do good or evil indifferently.”
[Ch. III. ]The nature is not to be confounded with the phænomena of life. Choo He says that “by life is intended that whereby men and animals perceive and move,” and he adds that Kaou’s sentiment was analogous to that of the Buddhists, who made “doing and moving” to be the nature. We must understand, I think, by life here the phænomena of the life of sensation, and Kaou’s idea led to the ridiculous conclusion that wherever there were those phænomena the nature of the subjects is the same We find it difficult to place ourselves in sympathy with him in this conversation, and also to follow Mencius in passing from the second paragraph to the third. His questions in the former refer to the qualities of inanimate things, and then he jumps to others about the nature of animals and of man.
[Ch. IV. ]That the discrimination of what is right, as well as the feeling of love or benevolence, is internal, and not merely determined by what is external to us.
[Par. 1. ] The first remark of Kaou here would seem to be intended to explain his statement in the preceding chapter that “life was nature.” Then he seems to give in to the view of Mencius that benevolence proceeds from a principle within us, just as we are moved by an internal feeling to food and sexual pleasure, but he still contends that it is not so in the exercise of righteousness;—by which term Chinese writers mean, “the conduct proper in reference to men and things without us, and the showing it to them. This meaning of “righteousness” is put out by Mencius at the close of the third paragraph.
[Par. 4. ] “A man of Ts‘in,” “a man of Ts‘oo;”—i. e., people indifferent to me, strangers to me.
[Par. 5. ] Mencius silences his opponent by showing that the difficulty which he alleged in regard to righteousness would attach also to the enjoyment of food, which he had himself allowed, at the outset of the conversation, to be internal, from the inward constitution of our nature.
[Ch. V. ]The same subject:—a difficulty obviated in the way of the conclusion that the discrimination of what is right is from within.
[Par. 1. ] Măng Ke was, probably, a younger brother of Măng Chung, who appears in II. Pt II ii. 3 in close attendance on Mencius. He had heard the previous conversation with Kaou, or heard of it; and feeling some doubts on the subject, he applied to the disciple Kung-too.
[Par. 3. ] “For whom would you pour out spirits first?”—i. e., at a feast. Courtesy then required that the honour should be given to a stranger; but Măng Ke does not consider this, but maintains that the manifestation of respect varied with the individual, and was therefore not from within.
[Par. 4. ] “Personating a deceased ancestor;”—see the Prolegomena to Vol. IV. of my larger Work, pp. 135, 136, on the strange custom under the Chow dynasty of personating a deceased ancestor at a sacrificial feast by one of the descendants of the family.
[Par. 5. ] Kung-too here beats down the cavilling of Măng Ke as Mencius did that of Kaou in the conclusion of last chapter.
[Ch. VI. ]Various views of human nature, and Mencius’ vindication of his own doctrine, that it is good.
[Par. 1. ] Choo He says that this view had been revived near his own times by the famous Soo Tung-po, and by Hoo Woo-fung, a son of the more celebrated Hoo Wăn-ting.
[Par. 2. ] Kaou had also given this view,—in the second chapter. Wăn and Woo are the famous founders of the Chow dynasty; Yëw and Le were two of their successors whose character and course damaged the dynasty not a little.
[Par. 3. ] This view was afterwards advocated, with an addition to it, by Han Yu of the T‘ang dynasty;—see his essay in the prolegomena. Seang was the wicked brother of Shun;—for him and Koo-sow see V. Pt I. ii., et al. For Chow (or Show) of the Shang dynasty and his relatives, see on the Analects XVIII. i., and on the Book of History, Pt IV. xi.
[Parr. 5, 6. ] These paragraphs are important for the correct understanding of our philosopher’s views.
[Par. 7. ] See II. Pt I. vi. 4, 5.
[Par. 8. ] See the Book of Poetry, Bk III. Pt III. vi. 1, and my commentary there.
[Ch. VII. ]The phænomena of good and evil in men’s character and conduct are to be explained from the different circumstances acting on them. All men, sages and others, are the same in mind, and it follows that the nature of other men is good, like that of the sages.
[Par. 1. ] The idea seems to be that in good years, the supply of food and clothes being sufficient, the young escape temptations to robbery and other wickedness. Mencius elsewhere puts forth powerfully the truth that adversity is often a school of superior virtue. The general sentiment enunciated here, that a competence is favourable to virtue, must be admitted, and it has the warrant of Confucius in Ana. XIII. ix.
[Par. 4. ] Of Mr Lung, who is here quoted, nothing is known. Mencius purposely quotes his saying on an ordinary matter as being well known, and serving to illustrate the point in hand.
[Par. 5. ] Yih Ya was the cook of the famous duke Hwan of Ts‘e (bc 684—642), otherwise a worthless man, but great in his art.
[Par. 6. ] Of the music-master Kwang see on IV. Pt I. i. 1.
[Par. 7. ] Tsze-too was the designation of Kung-sun Oh, a scion of the house of Ch‘ing about bc 700, distinguished for his beauty. See an account of his villainy and death in the 7th chapter of the “History of the several States.” See also in the Tso Chuen under the 11th year of duke Yin, and the 16th year of duke Chwang.
[Ch. VIII. ]How it is that the nature, properly good, comes to appear as if it were not so;—from not receiving its proper nourishment.
[Par. 1. ] Nëw hill, i. e. Ox hill, was a mountain not far from the capital of Ts‘e. It is 10 le south of the present district city of Lin-tsze, department of Ts‘ing-chow.
[Par. 4. ] This is a saying of Confucius for which we are indebted to Mencius. Choo He thus expands the paragraph:—“Confucius said of the mind, ‘If you hold it fast, it is here; if you let it go, it is lost and gone; so indeterminate in regard to time is its outgoing and incoming, and also in regard to place.’ Mencius quoted his words to illustrate the unfathomableness of the mind as spiritual and intelligent, how easy it is to have it or to lose it, and how difficult to preserve and keep it so that it should not be left unnourished for a moment. Learners ought constantly to be using their strength to insure the pureness of its spirit and the settledness of its passion-nature, as in the calm of the morning between day and night; then will the proper mind always be preserved, and everywhere and in all circumstances its manifestations will be those of benevolence and righteousness.”
[Ch. IX. ]Illustrating the preceding chapter.—How the king of Ts‘e’s want of wisdom was owing to his neglect of Mencius’ instructions and to bad associations.
[Par. 1. ] The king is understood to have been Seuen of Ts‘e;—see I. Pt I. vii., et al.
[Par. 2. ] The last sentence may also be taken, with Choo He, as meaning—“Though there may be [some] sprouts of goodness in him, what can I do?”
[Par. 3. ] “Chess Ts‘ëw;”—Ts‘ëw was the man’s name, and he was called Chess Ts‘ëw from his skill at the game.
[Ch. X. ]That it is proper to man’s nature to love righteousness more than life, and how it is that many act as if it were not so.
[Par. 1. ] “Bears’ paws,” lit., palms, have been a delicacy in China from the earliest times. They require a long time to cook them thoroughly. In bc 425, the king Ch‘ing of Ts‘oo, being besieged in his palace, requested that he might have a dish of bears’ palms before he was put to death,—hoping that help would come while they were being cooked.
[Par. 5. ] Up to this point our philosopher has been bringing out his great point,—that all men have the good heart, which he clinches by the cases in the two paragraphs that follow, which are very well conceived and expressed.
[Parr. 6—8. ] The reader will remember that it was with 10,000 chung that the king of Ts‘e tried to bribe Mencius to remain in his country;—see II. Pt II. x. “What can the 10,000 chung really add to him?” is literally, in Chinese—“What do the 10,000 chung add to me?” The meaning is better brought out in English by changing the person from the first to the third; but there is in the Chinese idiom also the lofty, and true, idea—that a man’s personality is something independent of, and higher than, all external advantages. The same peculiarity of Chinese idiom appears in the conclusion of the paragraph. “Is it not that the poor and needy of his acquaintance may be helped by him?” is, literally, “Is it not that the poor and needy may get me? i. e., may get my help?” On this a Chinese writer says, “The thinking of the poor would seem to show a kindly feeling, but the true nature of it appears in the—‘may get me.’ The idea is not one of benevolence, but of selfishness.”
[Ch. XI. ]How men, having lost the proper qualities of their nature, should seek to recover them.
[Par. 1. ] “Benevolence is man’s mind (or heart),” i. e., it is the proper and universal characteristic of man’s nature, what, as the commentators often say, “all men have.” “Benevolence” would seem here to include all the moral qualities of humanity; but it is followed by the Mencian specification of “righteousness.” Compare our philosopher’s yet more remarkable saying in VII. Pt II. xvi., that “Benevolence is man.”
[Par. 4. ] “The object of learning” is, literally, “The way of learning and asking,” “the way” meaning the proper course, that which is to be pursued. Mencius would seem to be guarding himself against being supposed to teach that man need not go beyond himself to secure his renovation. To illustrate his “learning and asking” we are referred to Confucius’ words in the Doctrine of the Mean, XX. 19, and those of Tsze-hea in Ana. XIX. vi.—It will be noted that the Chinese sages always end with the recovery of the old heart, and that the Christian idea of “a new heart” is unknown to them.
[Ch. XII. ]How men are sensible of bodily defects, however slight, but are not sensible of mental or moral defects.
[Par. 1. ] The thumb is called by the Chinese “the great finger;” next to it is “the eating finger;” then “the leading finger;” then “the fourth or nameless finger;” and last, “the little finger.” The fourth is called “nameless,” as being of less use than the others. The capital of Ts‘in was in the present department of Fung-ts‘eang, Shen-se, and that of Ts‘oo in King-chow, Hoo-pih.
[Ch. XIII. ]Men’s extreme want of thought in regard to the cultivation of themselves.
The t‘ung here is probably the bignonia. The wood of it was good for making lutes. The tsze also yields a valuable wood, and is spoken of as “the king of all trees.”
[Ch. XIV. ]The attention given by men to the nourishment of the different parts of their nature must be regulated by the relative importance of those parts, which every man can determine for himself by reflection.
[Par. 1. ] The concluding part of this par. is rather difficult to translate, but the meaning is plain:—A man is to determine, by reflection on his constitution, what parts are more important, and should have the greater attention paid to them. It will be seen that there underlies the argument of Mencius in this chapter the important point that the human constitution is a system, certain parts of which should be kept subordinate to others.
[Par. 2. ] “The great must not be injured for the small”;—it is implied that to neglect the greater and nobler parts of the constitution, is really to injure them. They are badly treated, not receiving the attention they deserve, and the language implies that positive injury is done to them.
[Par. 3. ] The “plantation-keeper” was an officer under the Chow dynasty, who had the superintendence of the sovereign’s plantations and orchards. The woo was the woo-t‘ung, the dryandra condifolia of Thunberg. The kea was also a valuable tree; some identify it with the tsze of last chapter.
[Par. 4. ] The illustrations here are not so happy. Chaou K‘e, indeed, introduces the idea of the parts mentioned being diseased so that the “nourishing” is equivalent to trying to heal; but this does not appear in the text The wolf, it is said, is very wary, and has a quick sight to discern danger: but when chased, he is unable to exercise this faculty, hence “a hurried wolf” is the image of a man pursuing his course heedlessly.
[Par. 6. ] The meaning here is—that the parts considered small and ignoble may have, and should have, their share of attention, if the more important parts are first cared for as they ought to be. While Mencius argued that the appetites and passions should be kept in subjection, he would give no countenance to the practice of asceticism.
[Ch. XV. ]That some are great men, lords of reason; and some are little men, slaves of sense.
Kung-too might have gone on to inquire:—“All are equally men; but some stand fast in the nobler part of their constitution, and others allow its supremacy to be snatched away by the inferior part:—how is this?” Mencius would have tried to carry the difficulty a step farther back, and after all have left it where it originally was. His saying that the nature of man is good can be reconciled with the teaching of Christianity; but his views of human nature as a whole are open to the three objections which I have stated in the note to the 21st chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean.
[Ch. XVI. ]There is a nobility that is of Heaven, and a nobility that is of man; and the neglect of the former leads to the loss of the latter.
[Par. 1. ] On the “nobility of man,” and its classes, see V. Pt II. ii. What I have translated “self-consecration” and “fidelity” are taken as devotion in mind and act to “benevolence and righteousness,” and the “joy in goodness” is also the goodness of those virtues.
[Par. 2. ] We have here merely the laudation temporis acti.
[Par. 3. ] On “their delusion is extreme” it is said:—“When the nobility of Heaven is cultivated in order to seek for the nobility of man, at the very time it is cultivated, there is a previous mind to throw it away;—showing the existence of delusion. Then when the nobility of man has been got, to throw away the nobility of Heaven exhibits conduct after the attainment not equal even to that in the time of search, so that the delusion is extreme.” Several commentators observe that facts may be referred to, apparently inconsistent with what is said in the last sentence of this paragraph, and then go on to say that the preservation of the nobility of man, in the case supposed, is only a lucky accident, and that the issue ought always to be as Mencius affirms. Yes, but all moral teachings must be imperfect where the thoughts are bounded by what is seen and temporal.
[Ch. XVII. ]The true honour which men should desire. A sequel to the preceding chapter. “Nobility” is the material dignity, and “honour” is the estimation which springs from it.
[Par. 2. ] The “really good honour” is that which springs from the nobility of Heaven, and of which human power cannot deprive its possessor. The Chaou family was one of the principal houses of the State of Tsin, and four of its chiefs had had the title of Măng, or “the chief,” combined with their surname. They were a sort of “king-making Warwicks,” and figure largely in the narratives of Tso K‘ew-ming.
[Par. 3. ] See the Book of Poetry, Part III. ii. Ode III. st. 1. The Ode is one responsive from the uncles and cousins of the reigning king of Chow for the kindness he had shown and the honour he had done to them at a sacrificial feast. Mencius’ use of the lines is a mere accommodation of them.
[Ch. XVIII. ]In order to accomplish what it is adapted to do, benevolence must be practised vigorously and fully. So only, indeed, can it be preserved. Compare with this chapter Mencius’ conversation with king Hwuy of Leang in I. Pt I. iii., and also his saying in VI. Pt II. i. 6.
[Par. 1. ] Chaou K‘e takes the conclusion of this paragraph as meaning—“This moreover is equivalent to the course of those who are the greatest practisers of what is not benevolent.” But both the sentiment and construction are in this way made more difficult.
[Ch. XIX. ]Benevolence must be matured. The sentiment here is akin to that of the former chapter, and is perhaps rather unguardedly expressed.
For “the five kinds of grain” see on III. Pt I. iv. 8. The t‘e and pae are two plants closely resembling each other. “They are a kind of spurious grain, yielding a small seed like rice or millet. They are to be found at all times, in wet situations and dry, and, when crushed and roasted, may satisfy the hunger in a time of famine.”
[Ch. XX. ]Learning must not be by halves, but by the full use of the rules appropriate to what is learned. Compare with this chapter what Mencius says in IV. Pt I. i. and ii.
[Par. 1. ] For E see on IV. Pt II. xxiv. 1. On this chapter Choo He says—“This chapter shows that affairs must be proceeded with according to their laws, and then they can be accomplished. But if a master neglect these, he cannot teach; and if a pupil neglect them, he cannot learn. In small arts it is so;—how much more with the principles of the sages!”