Mencius : Chapter 2 |
1. Mencius went to see the king Hsiang of Liang.
2. On coming out from the interview, he said to some persons, 'When I looked at
him from a distance, he did not appear like a sovereign; when I drew near to
him, I saw nothing venerable about him. Abruptly he asked me, "How can the
kingdom be settled?" I replied, "It will be settled by being united under one
3. '"Who can so unite it?"
4. 'I replied, "He who has no pleasure in killing men can so unite it."
5. "'Who can give it to him?"
6. 'I replied, " All the people of the nation will unanimously give it to him.
Does your Majesty understand the way of the growing grain? During the seventh
and eighth months, when drought prevails, the plants become dry. Then the clouds
collect densely in the heavens, they send down torrents of rain, and the grain
erects itself, as if by a shoot. When it does so, who can keep it back? Now
among the shepherds of men throughout the nation, there is not one who does not
find pleasure in killing men. If there were one who did not find pleasure in
killing men, all the people in the nation would look towards him with
outstretched necks. Such being indeed the case, the people would flock to him,
as water flows downwards with a rush, which no one can repress."'
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, saying, 'May I be informed by you of the
transactions of Hwan of Ch'î, and Wan of Tsin?'
2. Mencius replied, 'There were none of the disciples of Chuncg-nî who spoke
about the affairs of Hwan and WAn, and therefore they have not been transmitted
to these after-ages ;-- your servant has not heard them. If you will have me
speak, let it be about royal government.'
3. The king said, 'What virtue must there be in order to attain to royal sway?'
Mencius answered, 'The love and protection of the people; with this there is no
power which can prevent a ruler from attaining to it.'
4. The king asked again, 'Is such an one as I competent to love and protect the
people?' Mencius said, 'Yes.' 'How do you know that I am competent for that?' 'I
heard the following incident from Hû Ho:-- "The king," said he, "was sitting
aloft in the hall, when a man appeared, leading an ox past the lower part of it.
The king saw him, and asked, Where is the ox going? The man replied, We are
going to consecrate a bell with its blood. The king said, Let it go. I cannot
bear its frightened appearance, as if it were an innocent person going to the
place of death. The man answered, Shall we then omit the consecration of the
bell ? The king said, How can that be omitted? Change it for a sheep." I do not
know whether this incident really occurred.'
5. The king replied, 'It did,' and then Mencius said, 'The heart seen in this is
sufficient to carry you to the royal sway. The people all supposed that your
Majesty grudged the animal, but your servant knows surely, that it was your
Majesty's not being able to bear the sight, which made you do as you did.'
6. The king said, 'You are right. And yet there really was an appearance of what
the people condemned. But though Chî be a small and narrow State, how should I
grudge one ox? Indeed it was because I could not bear its frightened appearance,
as if it were an innocent person going to the place of death, that therefore I
changed it for a sheep.'
7. Mencius pursued, 'Let not your Majesty deem it strange that the people should
think you were grudging the animal. When you changed a large one for a small,
how should they know the true reason? If you felt pained by its being led
without guilt to the place of death, what was there to choose between an ox and
a sheep? The king laughed and said, 'What really was my mind in the matter? I
did not grudge the expense of it, and changed it for a sheep!-- There was reason
in the people's saying that I grudged it.'
8. 'There is no harm in their saying so,' said Mencius. 'Your conduct was an
artifice of benevolence. You saw the ox, and had not seen the sheep. So is the
superior man affected towards animals, that, having seen them alive, he cannot
bear to see them die; having heard their dying cries, he cannot bear to eat
their flesh. Therefore he keeps away from his slaughter-house and cook-room.'
9. The king was pleased, and said, 'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "The minds
of others, I am able by reflection to measure;" -- this is verified, my Master,
in your discovery of my motive. I indeed did the thing, but when I turned my
thoughts inward, and examined into it, I could not discover my own mind. When
you, Master, spoke those words, the movements of compassion began to work in my
mind. How is it that this heart has in it what is equal to the royal sway?'
10. Mencius replied, 'Suppose a man were to make this statement to your
Majesty:-- "My strength is sufficient to lift three thousand catties, but it is
not sufficient to lift one feather;-- my eyesight is sharp enough to examine the
point of an autumn hair, but I do not see a waggon-load of faggots;-- "would
your Majesty allow what he said?' 'No,' was the answer, on which Mencius
proceeded, 'Now here is kindness sufficient to reach to animals, and no benefits
are extended from it to the people.-- How is this? Is an exception to be made
here? The truth is, the feather is not lifted , because strength is not used;
the waggon-load of firewood is not seen, because the eyesight is not used; and
the people are not loved and protected, because kindness is not employed.
Therefore your Majesty's not exercising the royal sway, is because you do not do
it, not because you are not able to do it.'
11. The king asked, 'How may the difference between the not doing a thing, and
the not being able to do it, be represented? Mencius replied,'In such a thing as
taking the T'âi mountain under your arm, and leaping over the north sea with it,
if you say to people-- "I am not able to do it," that is a real case of not
being able. In such a matter as breaking off a branch from a tree at the order
of a superior, if you say to people-- "I am not able to do it," that is a case
of not doing it, it is not a case of not being able to do it. Therefore your
Majesty's not exercising the royal sway, is not such a case as that of taking
the T'âi mountain under your arm, and leaping over the north sea with it. Your
Majesty's not exercising the royal sway is a case like that of breaking off a
branch from a tree.
12. 'Treat with the reverence due to age the elders in your own family, so that
the elders in the families of others shall be similarly treated; treat with the
kindness due to youth the young in your own family, so that the young in the
families of others shall be similarly treated:-- do this, and the kingdom may be
made to go round in your palm. It is said in the Book of Poetry, "His example
affected his wife. It reached to his brothers, and his family of the State was
governed by it."-- The language shows how king Wan simply took his kindly heart,
and exercised it towards those parties. Therefore the carrying out his kindness
of heart by a prince will suffice for the love and protection of all within the
four seas, and if he do not carry it out, he will not be able to protect his
wife and children. The way in which the ancients came greatly to surpass other
men, was no other but this:-- simply that they knew well how to carry out, so as
to affect others, what they themselves did. Now your kindness is sufficient to
reach to animals, and no benefits are extended from it to reach the people.--
How is this? Is an exception to be made here?
13. 'By weighing, we know what things are light, and what heavy. By measuring,
we know what things are long, and what short. The relations of all things may be
thus determined, and it is of the greatest importance to estimate the motions of
the mind. I beg your Majesty to measure it.
14. 'You collect your equipments of war, endanger your soldiers and officers,
and excite the resentment of the other princes;-- do these things cause you
pleasnre in your mind?'
15. The king replied, 'No. How should I derive pleasure from these things? My
object in them is to seek for what I greatly desire.'
16. Mencius said, 'May I hear from you what it is that you greatly desire?' The
king laughed and did not speak. Mencius resumed, 'Are you led to desire it,
because you have not enough of rich and sweet food for your mouth? Or because
you have not enough of light and warm clothing for your body? Or because you
have not enough of beautifully coloured objects to delight your eyes? Or because
you have not voices and tones enough to please your ears? Or because you have
not enough of attendants and favourites to stand before you and receive your
orders? Your Majesty's various officers are sufficient to supply you with those
things. How can your Majesty be led to entertain such a desire on account of
them?' 'No,' said the king; 'my desire is not on account of them.' Mencius
added, 'Then, what your Majesty greatly desires may be known. You wish to
enlarge your territories, to have Ch'in and Ch'û wait at your court, to rule the
Middle Kingdom, and to attract to you the barbarous tribes that surround it. But
doing what you do to seek for what you desire is like climbing a tree to seek
17. The king said, 'Is it so bad as that?' 'It is even worse,' was the reply.
'If you climb a tree to seek for fish, although you do not get the fish, you
will not suffer any subsequent calamity. But doing what you do to seek for what
you desire, doing it moreover with all your heart, you will assuredly afterwards
meet with calamities.' The king asked, 'May I hear from you the proof of that?'
Mencius said, 'If the people of Tsâu should fight with the people of Ch'û, which
of them does your Majesty think would conquer?' 'The people of Ch'û would
conquer.' 'Yes;-- and so it is certain that a small country cannot contend with
a great, that few cannot contend with many, that the weak cannot contend with
the strong. The territory within the four seas embraces nine divisions, each of
a thousand lî square. All Ch'î together is but one of them. If with one part you
try to subdue the other eight, what is the difference between that and Tsâu's
contending with Ch'û? For, with such a desire, you must turn back to the proper
course for its attainment.
18. 'Now if your Majesty will institute a government whose action shall be
benevolent, this will cause all the officers in the kingdom to wish to stand in
your Majesty's court, and all the farmers to wish to plough in your Majesty's
fields, and all the merchants, both travelling and stationary, to wish to store
their goods in your Majesty's market-places, and all travelling strangers to
wish to make their tours on your Majesty's roads, and all throughout the kingdom
who feel aggrieved by their rulers to wish to come and complain to your Majesty.
And when they are so bent, who will be able to keep them back?'
19. The king said, 'I am stupid, and not able to advance to this. I wish you, my
Master, to assist my intentions. Teach me clearly; although I am deficient in
intelligence and vigour, I will essay and try to carry your instructions into
20. Mencius replied, 'They are only men of education, who, without a certain
livelihood, are able to maintain a fixed heart. As to the people, if they have
not a certain livelihood, it follows that they will not have a fixed heart. And
if they have not a fixed heart, there is nothing which they will not do, in the
way of self-abandonment, of moral deflection, of depravity, and of wild license.
When they thus have been involved in crime, to follow them up and punish them;--
this is to entrap the people. How can such a thing as entrapping the people be
done under the rule of a benevolent man?
21. 'Therefore an intelligent ruler will regulate the livelihood of the people,
so as to make sure that, for those above them, they shall have sufficient
wherewith to serve their parents, and, for those below them, sufficient
wherewith to support their wives and children; that in good years they shall
always be abundantly satisfied, and that in bad years they shall escape the
danger of perishing. After this he may urge them, and they will proceed to what
is good, for in this case the people will follow after it with ease.
22. 'Now, the livelihood of the people is so regulated, that, above, they have
not sufficient wherewith to serve their parents, and, below, they have not
sufficient wherewith to support their wives and children. Notwithstanding good
years, their lives are continually embittered, and, in bad years, they do not
escape perishing. In such circumstances they only try to save themselves from
death, and are afraid they will not succeed. What leisure have they to cultivate
propriety and righteousness?'
23. 'If your Majesty wishes to effect this regulation of the livelihood of the
people, why not turn to that which is the essential step to it?
24. 'Let mulberry-trees be planted about the homesteads with their five mâu, and
persons of fifty years may be clothed with silk. In keeping fowls, pigs, dogs,
and swine, let not their times of breeding be neglected, and persons of seventy
years may eat flesh. Let there not be taken away the time that is proper for the
cultivation of the farm with its hundred mâu, and the family of eight mouths
that is supported by it shall not suffer from hunger. Let careful attention be
paid to educatlon in schools,-- the inculcation in it especially of the filial
and fraternal duties, and grey-haired men will not be seen upon the roads,
carrying burdens on their backs or on their heads. It never has been that the
ruler of a State where such results were seen,-- the old wearing silk and eating
flesh, and the black-haired people suffering neither from hunger nor cold,-- did
not attain to the royal dignity.'
Mencius : Chapter 2