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Mencius 孟子

滕文公上 Teng Wen Gong I

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1. 滕文公世子孟子孟子道性堯舜
When the prince, afterwards duke Wen of Teng, had to go to Chu, he went by way of Song, and visited Mencius. Mencius discoursed to him how the nature of man is good, and when speaking, always made laudatory reference to Yao and Shun.

When the prince was returning from Chu, he again visited Mencius. Mencius said to him, 'Prince, do you doubt my words? The path is one, and only one. Cheng Gan said to duke Jing of Qi, "They were men. I am a man. Why should I stand in awe of them?" Yan Yuan said, "What kind of man was Shun? What kind of man am I? He who exerts himself will also become such as he was." Gong Ming Yi said, "King Wen is my teacher. How should the duke of Zhou deceive me by those words?" Now, Teng, taking its length with its breadth, will amount, I suppose, to fifty li. It is small, but still sufficient to make a good State. It is said in the Book of History, "If medicine do not raise a commotion in the patient, his disease will not be cured by it."'

2. 定公世子:「孟子不幸至於使孟子然後行事。」
When the duke Ding of Teng died, the prince said to Ran You, 'Formerly, Mencius spoke with me in Song, and in my mind I have never forgotten his words. Now, alas! this great duty to my father devolves upon me; I wish to send you to ask the advice of Mencius, and then to proceed to its various services'

Ran You accordingly proceeded to Zou, and consulted Mencius. Mencius said, 'Is this not good? In discharging the funeral duties to parents, men indeed feel constrained to do their utmost. The philosopher Zeng said, "When parents are alive, they should be served according to propriety; when they are dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and they should be sacrificed to according to propriety - this may be called filial piety." The ceremonies to be observed by the princes I have not learned, but I have heard these points: that the three years' mourning, the garment of coarse cloth with its lower edge even, and the eating of congee, were equally prescribed by the three dynasties, and binding on all, from the sovereign to the mass of the people.'

Ran You reported the execution of his commission, and the prince determined that the three years' mourning should be observed. His aged relatives, and the body of the officers, did not wish that it should be so, and said, 'The former princes of Lu, that kingdom which we honour, have, none of them, observed this practice, neither have any of our own former princes observed it. For you to act contrary to their example is not proper. Moreover, the History says, "In the observances of mourning and sacrifice, ancestors are to be followed," meaning that they received those things from a proper source to hand them down.' The prince said again to Ran You, 'Hitherto, I have not given myself to the pursuit of learning, but have found my pleasure in horsemanship and sword-exercise, and now I don't come up to the wishes of my aged relatives and the officers. I am afraid I may not be able to discharge my duty in the great business that I have entered on; do you again consult Mencius for me.'

On this, Ran You went again to Zou, and consulted Mencius. Mencius said, 'It is so, but he may not seek a remedy in others, but only in himself. Confucius said, "When a prince dies, his successor entrusts the administration to the prime minister. He sips the congee. His face is of a deep black. He approaches the place of mourning, and weeps. Of all the officers and inferior ministers there is not one who will presume not to join in the lamentation, he setting them this example. What the superior loves, his inferiors will be found to love exceedingly. The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and grass. The grass must bend when the wind blows upon it." The business depends on the prince.'

Ran You returned with this answer to his commission, and the prince said, 'It is so. The matter does indeed depend on me.' So for five months he dwelt in the shed, without issuing an order or a caution. All the officers and his relatives said, 'He may be said to understand the ceremonies.' When the time of interment arrived, they came from all quarters of the State to witness it. Those who had come from other States to condole with him, were greatly pleased with the deep dejection of his countenance and the mournfulness of his wailing and weeping.

3. 滕文公孟子:「民事不可。《:『百穀。』恒心恒心恒心無不然後從而在位是故賢君恭儉:『為富不仁為仁不富。』
The duke Wen of Teng asked Mencius about the proper way of governing a kingdom. Mencius said, 'The business of the people may not be remissly attended to. It is said in the Book of Poetry, "In the day-light go and gather the grass, And at night twist your ropes; Then get up quickly on the roofs; Soon must we begin sowing again the grain." The way of the people is this: If they have a certain livelihood, they will have a fixed heart; if they have not a certain livelihood, they have not a fixed heart. 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 have thus 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? Therefore, a ruler who is endowed with talents and virtue will be gravely complaisant and economical, showing a respectful politeness to his ministers, and taking from the people only in accordance with regulated limits. Yang Hu said, "He who seeks to be rich will not be benevolent. He who wishes to be benevolent will not be rich."

'The sovereign of the Xia dynasty enacted the fifty mu allotment, and the payment of a tax. The founder of the Yin enacted the seventy mu allotment, and the system of mutual aid. The founder of the Zhou enacted the hundred mu allotment, and the share system. In reality, what was paid in all these was a tithe. The share system means mutual division. The aid system means mutual dependence. Long said, "For regulating the lands, there is no better system than that of mutual aid, and none which is not better than that of taxing. By the tax system, the regular amount was fixed by taking the average of several years. In good years, when the grain lies about in abundance, much might be taken without its being oppressive, and the actual exaction would be small. But in bad years, the produce being not sufficient to repay the manuring of the fields, this system still requires the taking of the full amount. When the parent of the people causes the people to wear looks of distress, and, after the whole year's toil, yet not to be able to nourish their parents, so that they proceed to borrowing to increase their means, till the old people and children are found lying in the ditches and water-channels - where, in such a case, is his parental relation to the people?" As to the system of hereditary salaries, that is already observed in Teng. It is said in the Book of Poetry, "May the rain come down on our public field, And then upon our private fields!" It is only in the system of mutual aid that there is a public field, and from this passage we perceive that even in the Zhou dynasty this system has been recognised.

'Establish Xiang, Xu, Xue, and Xiao, all those educational institutions, for the instruction of the people. The name Xiang indicates nourishing as its object; Xiao, indicates teaching; and Xu indicates archery. By the Xia dynasty the name Xiao was used; by the Yin, that of Xu; and by the Zhou, that of Xiang. As to the Xue, they belonged to the three dynasties, and by that name. The object of them all is to illustrate the human relations. When those are thus illustrated by superiors, kindly feeling will prevail among the inferior people below. Should a real sovereign arise, he will certainly come and take an example from you; and thus you will be the teacher of the true sovereign. It is said in the Book of Poetry, "Although Zhou was an old country, It received a new destiny." That is said with reference to king Wen. Do you practise those things with vigour, and you also will by them make new your kingdom.'

The duke afterwards sent Bi Zhan to consult Mencius about the nine-squares system of dividing the land. Mencius said to him, 'Since your prince, wishing to put in practice a benevolent government, has made choice of you and put you into this employment, you must exert yourself to the utmost. Now, the first thing towards a benevolent government must be to lay down the boundaries. If the boundaries be not defined correctly, the division of the land into squares will not be equal, and the produce available for salaries will not be evenly distributed. On this account, oppressive rulers and impure ministers are sure to neglect this defining of the boundaries. When the boundaries have been defined correctly, the division of the fields and the regulation of allowances may be determined by you, sitting at your ease. Although the territory of Teng is narrow and small, yet there must be in it men of a superior grade, and there must be in it country-men. If there were not men of a superior grade, there would be none to rule the country-men. If there were not country-men, there would be none to support the men of superior grade. I would ask you, in the remoter districts, observing the nine-squares division, to reserve one division to be cultivated on the system of mutual aid, and in the more central parts of the kingdom, to make the people pay for themselves a tenth part of their produce. From the highest officers down to the lowest, each one must have his holy field, consisting of fifty mu. Let the supernumerary males have their twenty-five mu. On occasions of death, or removal from one dwelling to another, there will be no quitting the district. In the fields of a district, those who belong to the same nine squares render all friendly offices to one another in their going out and coming in, aid one another in keeping watch and ward, and sustain one another in sickness. Thus the people are brought to live in affection and harmony. A square li covers nine squares of land, which nine squares contain nine hundred mu. The central square is the public field, and eight families, each having its private hundred mu, cultivate in common the public field. And not till the public work is finished, may they presume to attend to their private affairs. This is the way by which the country-men are distinguished from those of a superior grade. Those are the great outlines of the system. Happily to modify and adapt it depends on the prince and you.'

4. 有為神農文公:「遠方仁政。」文公以為
There came from Chu to Teng one Xu Xing, who gave out that he acted according to the words of Shen Nong. Coming right to his gate, he addressed the duke Wen, saying, 'A man of a distant region, I have heard that you, Prince, are practising a benevolent government, and I wish to receive a site for a house, and to become one of your people.' The duke Wen gave him a dwelling-place. His disciples, amounting to several tens, all wore clothes of haircloth, and made sandals of hemp and wove mats for a living.

At the same time, Chen Xiang, a disciple of Chen Liang, and his younger brother, Xin, with their plough-handles and shares on their backs, came from Song to Teng, saying, 'We have heard that you, Prince, are putting into practice the government of the ancient sages, showing that you are likewise a sage. We wish to become the subjects of a sage.' When Chen Xiang saw Xu Xing, he was greatly pleased with him, and, abandoning entirely whatever he had learned, became his disciple.

Having an interview with Mencius, he related to him with approbation the words of Xu Xing to the following effect: 'The prince of Teng is indeed a worthy prince. He has not yet heard, however, the real doctrines of antiquity. Now, wise and able princes should cultivate the ground equally and along with their people, and eat the fruit of their labour. They should prepare their own meals, morning and evening, while at the same time they carry on their government. But now, the prince of T'ang has his granaries, treasuries, and arsenals, which is an oppressing of the people to nourish himself. How can he be deemed a real worthy prince?'

Mencius said,'I suppose that Xu Xing sows grain and eats the produce. Is it not so?' 'It is so,' was the answer.

'I suppose also he weaves cloth, and wears his own manufacture. Is it not so?' 'No. Xu wears clothes of haircloth.'

'Does he wear a cap?' 'He wears a cap.'

'What kind of cap?' 'A plain cap.'


'Is it woven by himself?' 'No. He gets it in exchange for grain.'

'Why does Xu not weave it himself?' 'That would injure his husbandry.'


'Does Xu cook his food in boilers and earthenware pans, and does he plough with an iron share?' 'Yes.'

'Does he make those articles himself?' 'No. He gets them in exchange for grain.'

Mencius then said, 'The getting those various articles in exchange for grain, is not oppressive to the potter and the founder, and the potter and the founder in their turn, in exchanging their various articles for grain, are not oppressive to the husbandman. How should such a thing be supposed? And moreover, why does not Xu act the potter and founder, supplying himself with the articles which he uses solely from his own establishment? Why does he go confusedly dealing and exchanging with the handicraftsmen? Why does he not spare himself so much trouble?' Chen Xiang replied, 'The business of the handicraftsman can by no means be carried on along with the business of husbandry.'

Mencius resumed, 'Then, is it the government of the kingdom which alone can be carried on along with the practice of husbandry? Great men have their proper business, and little men have their proper business. Moreover, in the case of any single individual, whatever articles he can require are ready to his hand, being produced by the various handicraftsmen - if he must first make them for his own use, this way of doing would keep all the people running about upon the roads. Hence, there is the saying, "Some labour with their minds, and some labour with their strength. Those who labour with their minds govern others; those who labour with their strength are governed by others. Those who are governed by others support them; those who govern others are supported by them." This is a principle universally recognised.

'In the time of Yao, when the world had not yet been perfectly reduced to order, the vast waters, flowing out of their channels, made a universal inundation. Vegetation was luxuriant, and birds and beasts swarmed. The various kinds of grain could not be grown. The birds and beasts pressed upon men. The paths marked by the feet of beasts and prints of birds crossed one another throughout the Middle Kingdom. To Yao alone this caused anxious sorrow. He raised Shun to office, and measures to regulate the disorder were set forth. Shun committed to Yi the direction of the fire to be employed, and Yi set fire to, and consumed, the forests and vegetation on the mountains and in the marshes, so that the birds and beasts fled away to hide themselves. Yu separated the nine streams, cleared the courses of the Ji and Ta, and led them all to the sea. He opened a vent also for the Ru and Han, and regulated the course of the Huai and Si, so that they all flowed into the Jiang. When this was done, it became possible for the people of the Middle Kingdom to cultivate the ground and get food for themselves. During that time, Yu was eight years away from his home, and though he thrice passed the door of it, he did not enter. Although he had wished to cultivate the ground, could he have done so? The Minister of Agriculture taught the people to sow and reap, cultivating the five kinds of grain. When the five kinds of grain were brought to maturity, the people all obtained a subsistence. But men possess a moral nature; and if they are well fed, warmly clad, and comfortably lodged, without being taught at the same time, they become almost like the beasts. This was a subject of anxious solicitude to the sage Shun, and he appointed Xie to be the Minister of Instruction, to teach the relations of humanity: how, between father and son, there should be affection; between sovereign and minister, righteousness; between husband and wife, attention to their separate functions; between old and young, a proper order; and between friends, fidelity. The high meritorious sovereign said to him, "Encourage them; lead them on; rectify them; straighten them; help them; give them wings - thus causing them to become possessors of themselves. Then follow this up by stimulating them, and conferring benefits on them." When the sages were exercising their solicitude for the people in this way, had they leisure to cultivate the ground?

'What Yao felt giving him anxiety was the not getting Shun. What Shun felt giving him anxiety was the not getting Yu and Gao Yao. But he whose anxiety is about his hundred mu not being properly cultivated, is a mere husbandman. The imparting by a man to others of his wealth, is called "kindness." The teaching others what is good, is called "the exercise of fidelity." The finding a man who shall benefit the kingdom, is called "benevolence." Hence to give the throne to another man would be easy; to find a man who shall benefit the kingdom is difficult. Confucius said, "Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign. It is only Heaven that is great, and only Yao corresponded to it. How vast was his virtue! The people could find no name for it. Princely indeed was Shun! How majestic was he, having possession of the kingdom, and yet seeming as if it were nothing to him!" In their governing the kingdom, were there no subjects on which Yao and Shun employed their minds? There were subjects, only they did not employ their minds on the cultivation of the ground.

'I have heard of men using the doctrines of our great land to change barbarians, but I have never yet heard of any being changed by barbarians. Chen Liang was a native of Chu. Pleased with the doctrines of Zhou Gong and Zhong Ni, he came northwards to the Middle Kingdom and studied them. Among the scholars of the northern regions, there was perhaps no one who excelled him. He was what you call a scholar of high and distinguished qualities. You and your brother followed him some tens of years, and when your master died, you forthwith turned away from him. Formerly, when Confucius died, after three vears had elapsed, his disciples collected their baggage, and prepared to return to their several homes. But on entering to take their leave of Zi Gong, as they looked towards one another, they wailed, till they all lost their voices. After this they returned to their homes, but Zi Gong went back, and built a house for himself on the altar-ground, where he lived alone other three years, before he returned home. On another occasion, Zi Xia, Zi Zhang, and Zi You, thinking that You Ruo resembled the sage, wished to render to him the same observances which they had rendered to Confucius. They tried to force the disciple Zeng to join with them, but he said, "This may not be done. What has been washed in the waters of the Jiang and Han, and bleached in the autumn sun - how glistening is it! Nothing can be added to it." Now here is this shrike-tongued barbarian of the south, whose doctrines are not those of the ancient kings. You turn away from your master and become his disciple. Your conduct is different indeed from that of the philosopher Zeng. I have heard of birds leaving dark valleys to remove to lofty trees, but I have not heard of their descending from lofty trees to enter into dark valleys. In the Praise-songs of Lu it is said, "He smote the barbarians of the west and the north, He punished Jing and Shu." Thus Zhou Gong would be sure to smite them, and you become their disciple again; it appears that your change is not good.'

Chen Xiang said, 'If Xu's doctrines were followed, then there would not be two prices in the market, nor any deceit in the kingdom. If a boy of five cubits were sent to the market, no one would impose on him; linen and silk of the same length would be of the same price. So it would be with bundles of hemp and silk, being of the same weight; with the different kinds of grain, being the same in quantity; and with shoes which were of the same size.' Mencius replied, 'It is the nature of things to be of unequal quality. Some are twice, some five times, some ten times, some a hundred times, some a thousand times, some ten thousand times as valuable as others. If you reduce them all to the same standard, that must throw the kingdom into confusion. If large shoes and small shoes were of the same price, who would make them? For people to follow the doctrines of Xu, would be for them to lead one another on to practise deceit. How can they avail for the government of a State?'

5. 墨者求見孟子孟子:「病愈。」
The Mohist, Yi Zhi, sought, through Xu Bi, to see Mencius. Mencius said, 'I indeed wish to see him, but at present I am still unwell. When I am better, I will myself go and see him. He need not come here again.'

Next day, Yi Zhi again sought to see Mencius. Mencius said, 'To-day I am able to see him. But if I do not correct his errors, the true principles will not be fully evident. Let me first correct him. I have heard that this Yi is a Mohist. Now Mo considers that in the regulation of funeral matters a spare simplicity should be the rule. Yi thinks with Mo's doctrines to change the customs of the kingdom - how does he regard them as if they were wrong, and not honour them? Notwithstanding his views, Yi buried his parents in a sumptuous manner, and so he served them in the way which his doctrines discountenance.'

The disciple Xu informed Yi of these remarks. Yi said, 'Even according to the principles of the learned, we find that the ancients acted towards the people "as if they were watching over an infant." What does this expression mean? To me it sounds that we are to love all without difference of degree; but the manifestation of love must begin with our parents.'

Xu reported this reply to Mencius, who said, 'Now, does Yi really think that a man's affection for the child of his brother is merely like his affection for the infant of a neighbour? What is to be approved in that expression is simply this: that if an infant crawling about is likely to fall into a well, it is no crime in the infant. Moreover, Heaven gives birth to creatures in such a way that they have one root, and Yi makes them to have two roots. This is the cause of his error. And, in the most ancient times, there were some who did not inter their parents. When their parents died, they took them up and threw them into some water-channel. Afterwards, when passing by them, they saw foxes and wild-cats devouring them, and flies and gnats biting at them. The perspiration started out upon their foreheads, and they looked away, unable to bear the sight. It was not on account of other people that this perspiration flowed. The emotions of their hearts affected their faces and eyes, and instantly they went home, and came back with baskets and spades and covered the bodies. If the covering them thus was indeed right, you may see that the filial son and virtuous man, in interring in a handsome manner their parents, act according to a proper rule.'

The disciple Xu informed Yi of what Mencius had said. Yi was thoughtful for a short time, and then said, 'He has instructed me.'

English translation: Legge 1861

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