The Chinese Classics/Volume 2/The Works of Mencius/chapter06
Teng Wen Gong II
Chen Dai said to Mencius, 'In not going to wait upon any of the princes, you seem to me to be standing on a small point. If now you were once to wait upon them, the result might be so great that you would make one of them sovereign, or, if smaller, that you would make one of them chief of all the other princes. Moreover, the History says, "By bending only one cubit, you make eight cubits straight." It appears to me like a thing which might be done.'
Mencius said, 'Formerly, the duke Jing of Qi, once when he was hunting, called his forester to him by a flag. The forester would not come, and the duke was going to kill him. With reference to this incident, Confucius said, "The determined officer never forgets that his end may be in a ditch or a stream; the brave officer never forgets that he may lose his head." What was it in the forester that Confucius thus approved? He approved his not going to the duke, when summoned by the article which was not appropriate to him. If one go to see the princes without waiting to be invited, what can be thought of him? Moreover, that sentence, "By bending only one cubit, you make eight cubits straight," is spoken with reference to the gain that may be got. If gain be the object, then, if it can be got by bending eight cubits to make one cubit straight, may we likewise do that? Formerly, the officer Zhao Jian made Wang Liang act as charioteer for his favourite Xi, when, in the course of a whole day, they did not get a single bird. The favourite Xi reported this result, saying, "He is the poorest charioteer in the world." Some one told this to Wang Liang, who said, "I beg leave to try again." By dint of pressing, this was accorded to him, when in one morning they got ten birds. The favourite, reporting this result, said, "He is the best charioteer in the world." Jian said, "I will make him always drive your chariot for you." When he told Wang Liang so, however, Liang refused, saying, "I drove for him, strictly observing the proper rules for driving, and in the whole day he did not get one bird. I drove for him so as deceitfully to intercept the birds, and in one morning he got ten. It is said in the Book of Poetry, 'There is no failure in the management of their horses; The arrows are discharged surely, like the blows of an axe.' I am not accustomed to drive for a mean man. I beg leave to decline the office." Thus this charioteer even was ashamed to bend improperly to the will of such an archer. Though, by bending to it, they would have caught birds and animals sufficient to form a hill, he would not do so. If I were to bend my principles and follow those princes, of what kind would my conduct be? And you are wrong. Never has a man who has bent himself been able to make others straight.'
Jing Chun said to Mencius, 'Are not Gong Sun Yan and Zhang Yi really great men? Let them once be angry, and all the princes are afraid. Let them live quietly, and the flames of trouble are extinguished throughout the kingdom.'
Mencius said, 'How can such men be great men? Have you not read the Ritual Usages? "At the capping of a young man, his father admonishes him. At the marrying away of a young woman, her mother admonishes her, accompanying her to the door on her leaving, and cautioning her with these words, 'You are going to your home. You must be respectful; you must be careful. Do not disobey your husband.'" Thus, to look upon compliance as their correct course is the rule for women. To dwell in the wide house of the world, to stand in the correct seat of the world, and to walk in the great path of the world; when he obtains his desire for office, to practise his principles for the good of the people; and when that desire is disappointed, to practise them alone; to be above the power of riches and honours to make dissipated, of poverty and mean condition to make swerve from principle, and of power and force to make bend - these characteristics constitute the great man.'
Zhou Xiao asked Mencius, saying, 'Did superior men of old time take office?'
Mencius replied, 'They did. The Record says, "If Confucius was three months without being employed by some ruler, he looked anxious and unhappy. When he passed from the boundary of a State, he was sure to carry with him his proper gift of introduction." Gong Ming Yi said, "Among the ancients, if an officer was three months unemployed by a ruler, he was condoled with."'
Xiao said, 'Did not this condoling, on being three months unemployed by a ruler, show a too great urgency?'
Mencius answered, 'The loss of his place to an officer is like the loss of his State to a prince. It is said in the Book of Rites, "A prince ploughs himself, and is assisted by the people, to supply the millet for sacrifice. His wife keeps silkworms, and unwinds their cocoons, to make the garments for sacrifice." If the victims be not perfect, the millet not pure, and the dress not complete, he does not presume to sacrifice. "And the scholar who, out of office, has no holy field, in the same way, does not sacrifice. The victims for slaughter, the vessels, and the garments, not being all complete, he does not presume to sacrifice, and then neither may he dare to feel happy." Is there not here sufficient ground also for condolence?'
Xiao again asked, 'What was the meaning of Confucius's always carrying his proper gift of introduction with him, when he passed over the boundaries of the State where he had been?'
'An officer's being in office,' was the reply, 'is like the ploughing of a husbandman. Does a husbandman part with his plough, because he goes from one State to another?'
Xiao pursued, 'The kingdom of Jin is one, as well as others, of official employments, but I have not heard of anyone being thus earnest about being in office. If there should be this urge why does a superior man make any difficulty about taking it?'
Mencius answered, 'When a son is born, what is desired for him is that he may have a wife; when a daughter is born, what is desired for her is that she may have a husband. This feeling of the parents is possessed by all men. If the young people, without waiting for the orders of their parents, and the arrangements of the go-betweens, shall bore holes to steal a sight of each other, or get over the wall to be with each other, then their parents and all other people will despise them. The ancients did indeed always desire to be in office, but they also hated being so by any improper way. To seek office by an improper way is of a class with young people's boring holes.'
Peng Geng asked Mencius, saying, 'Is it not an extravagant procedure to go from one prince to another and live upon them, followed by several tens of carriages, and attended by several hundred men?'
Mencius replied, 'If there be not a proper ground for taking it, a single bamboo-cup of rice may not be received from a man. If there be such a proper ground, then Shun's receiving the kingdom from Yao is not to be considered excessive. Do you think it was excessive?'
Geng said, 'No. But for a scholar performing no service to receive his support notwithstanding is improper.'
Mencius answered, 'If you do not have an intercommunication of the productions of labour, and an interchange of men's services, so that one from his overplus may supply the deficiency of another, then husbandmen will have a superfluity of grain, and women will have a superfluity of cloth. If you have such an interchange, carpenters and carriage-wrights may all get their food from you. Here now is a man, who, at home, is filial, and abroad, respectful to his elders; who watches over the principles of the ancient kings, awaiting the rise of future learners - and yet you will refuse to support him. How is it that you give honour to the carpenter and carriage-wright, and slight him who practises benevolence and righteousness?'
Peng Geng said, 'The aim of the carpenter and carriagewright is by their trades to seek for a living. Is it also the aim of the superior man in his practice of principles thereby to seek for a living?'
'What have you to do,' returned Mencius, 'with his purpose? He is of service to you. He deserves to be supported, and should be supported. And let me ask - Do you remunerate a man's intention, or do you remunerate his service.'
To this Kang replied, 'I remunerate his intention.'
Mencius said, 'There is a man here, who breaks your tiles, and draws unsightly figures on your walls - his purpose may be thereby to seek for his living, but will you indeed remunerate him?'
'No,' said Geng.
Mencius then concluded, 'That being the case, it is not the purpose which you remunerate, but the work done.'
Wan Zhang asked Mencius, saying, 'Sung is a small State. Its ruler is now setting about to practise the true royal government, and Qi and Chu hate and attack him. What in this case is to be done?'
Mencius replied, 'When Tang dwelt in Bo, he adjoined to the State of Ge, the chief of which was living in a dissolute state and neglecting his proper sacrifices. Tang sent messengers to inquire why he did not sacrifice. He replied, "I have no means of supplying the necessary victims." On this, Tang caused oxen and sheep to be sent to him, but he ate them, and still continued not to sacrifice. Tang again sent messengers to ask him the same question as before, when he replied, "I have no means of obtaining the necessary millet." On this, Tang sent the mass of the people of Bo to go and till the ground for him, while the old and feeble carried their food to them. The chief of Ge led his people to intercept those who were thus charged with wine, cooked rice, millet, and paddy, and took their stores from them, while they killed those who refused to give them up. There was a boy who had some millet and flesh for the labourers, who was thus slain and robbed. What is said in the Book of History, "The chief of Ge behaved as an enemy to the provision-carriers," has reference to this. Because of his murder of this boy, Tang proceeded to punish him. All within the four seas said, "It is not because he desires the riches of the kingdom, but to avenge a common man and woman." When Tang began his work of executing justice, he commenced with Ge, and though he made eleven punitive expeditions, he had not an enemy in the kingdom. When he pursued his work in the east, the rude tribes in the west murmured. So did those on the north, when he was engaged in the south. Their cry was "Why does he make us last." Thus, the people's longing for him was like their longing for rain in a time of great drought. The frequenters of the markets stopped not. Those engaged in weeding in the fields made no change in their operations. While he punished their rulers, he consoled the people. His progress was like the falling of opportune rain, and the people were delighted. It is said in the Book of History, "We have waited for our prince. When our prince comes, we may escape from the punishments under which we suffer." There being some who would not become the subjects of Zhou, king Wu proceeded to punish them on the east. He gave tranquillity to their people, who welcomed him with baskets full of their black and yellow silks, saying "From henceforth we shall serve the sovereign of our dynasty of Zhou, that we may be made happy by him." So they joined themselves, as subjects, to the great city of Zhou. Thus, the men of station of Shang took baskets full of black and yellow silks to meet the men of station of Zhou, and the lower classes of the one met those of the other with baskets of rice and vessels of congee. Wu saved the people from the midst of fire and water, seizing only their oppressors, and destroying them.' In the Great Declaration it is said, "My power shall be put forth, and, invading the territories of Shang, I will seize the oppressor. I will put him to death to punish him - so shall the greatness of my work appear, more glorious than that of Tang." Song is not, as you say, practising true royal government, and so forth. If it were practising royal government, all within the four seas would be lifting up their heads, and looking for its prince, wishing to have him for their sovereign. Great as Qi and Chu are, what would there be to fear from them?'
Mencius said to Dai Bu Sheng, 'I see that you are desiring your king to be virtuous, and will plainly tell you how he may be made so. Suppose that there is a great officer of Chu here, who wishes his son to learn the speech of Qi. Will he in that case employ a man of Qi as his tutor, or a man of Chu?'
'He will employ a man of Qi to teach him,' said Bu Sheng.
Mencius went on, 'If but one man of Qi be teaching him, and there be a multitude of men of Chu continually shouting out about him, although his father beat him every day, wishing him to learn the speech of Qi, it will be impossible for him to do so. But in the same way, if he were to be taken and placed for several years in Zhuang or Yue, though his father should beat him, wishing him to speak the language of Chu, it would be impossible for him to do so. You supposed that Xue Ju Zhou was a scholar of virtue, and you have got him placed in attendance on the king. Suppose that all in attendance on the king, old and young, high and low, were Xue Ju Zhous, whom would the king have to do evil with? And suppose that all in attendance on the king, old and young, high and low, are not Xue Ju Zhous, whom will the king gave to do good with? What can one Xue Ju Zhou do alone for the king of Song?'
Gong Sun Chou asked Mencius, saying, 'What is the point of righteousness involved in your not going to see the princes?'
Mencius replied, 'Among the ancients, if one had not seen a minister in a State, he did not go to see the sovereign. Duan Gan Mu leaped over his wall to avoid the prince. Xie Liu shut his door, and would not admit the prince. These two, however, carried their scrupulosity to excess. When a prince is urgent, it is not improper to see him. Yang Huo wished to get Confucius to go to see him, but disliked doing so by any want of propriety. As it is the rule, therefore, that when a great officer sends a gift to a scholar, if the latter be not at home to receive it, he must go to the officer's to pay his respects, Yang Huo watched when Confucius was out, and sent him a roasted pig. Confucius, in his turn, watched when Huo was out, and went to pay his respects to him. At that time, Yang Huo had taken the initiative - how could Confucius decline going to see him? Zengzi said, "They who shrug up their shoulders, and laugh in a flattering way, toil harder than the summer labourer in the fields." Zi Lu said, "There are those who talk with people with whom they have no great community of feeling. If you look at their countenances, they are full of blushes. I do not desire to know such persons." By considering these remarks, the spirit which the superior man nourishes may be known.'
Dai Ying Zhi said to Mencius, 'I am not able at present and immediately to do with the levying of a tithe only, and abolishing the duties charged at the passes and in the markets. With your leave I will lighten, however, both the tax and the duties, until next year, and will then make an end of them. What do you think of such a course?'
Mencius said, 'Here is a man, who every day appropriates some of his neighbour's strayed fowls. Some one says to him, "Such is not the way of a good man;" and he replies, "With your leave I will diminish my appropriations, and will take only one fowl a month, until next year, when I will make an end of the practice." If you know that the thing is unrighteous, then use all despatch in putting an end to it - why wait till next year?'
The disciple Gong Du said to Mencius, 'Master, the people beyond our school all speak of you as being fond of disputing. I venture to ask whether it be so.'
Mencius replied, 'Indeed, I am not fond of disputing, but I am compelled to do it. A long time has elapsed since this world of men received its being, and there has been along its history now a period of good order, and now a period of confusion. In the time of Yao, the waters, flowing out of their channels, inundated the Middle Kingdom. Snakes and dragons occupied it, and the people had no place where they could settle themselves. In the low grounds they made nests for themselves on the trees or raised platforms, and in the high grounds they made caves. It is said in the Book of History, "The waters in their wild course warned me." Those "waters in their wild course" were the waters of the great inundation. Shun employed Yu to reduce the waters to order. Yu dug open their obstructed channels, and conducted them to the sea. He drove away the snakes and dragons, and forced them into the grassy marshes. On this, the waters pursued their course through the country, even the waters of the Jiang, the Huai, the He, and the Han, and the dangers and obstructions which they had occasioned were removed. The birds and beasts which had injured the people also disappeared, and after this men found the plains available for them, and occupied them.
'After the death of Yao and Shun, the principles that mark sages fell into decay. Oppressive sovereigns arose one after another, who pulled down houses to make ponds and lakes, so that the people knew not where they could rest in quiet; they threw fields out of cultivation to form gardens and parks, so that the people could not get clothes and food. Afterwards, corrupt speakings and oppressive deeds became more rife; gardens and parks, ponds and lakes, thickets and marshes became more numerous, and birds and beasts swarmed. By the time of the tyrant Zhou, the kingdom was again in a state of great confusion. Zhou Gong assisted king Wu, and destroyed Zhou. He smote Yan, and after three years put its sovereign to death. He drove Fei Lian to a corner by the sea, and slew him. The States which he extinguished amounted to fifty. He drove far away also the tigers, leopards, rhinoceroses, and elephants - and all the people was greatly delighted. It is said in the Book of History, "Great and splendid were the plans of king Wen! Greatly were they carried out by the energy of king Wu! They are for the assistance and instruction of us who are of an after day. They are all in principle correct, and deficient in nothing."
'Again the world fell into decay, and principles faded away. Perverse speakings and oppressive deeds waxed rife again. There were instances of ministers who murdered their sovereigns, and of sons who murdered their fathers. Confucius was afraid, and made the "Spring and Autumn." What the "Spring and Autumn" contains are matters proper to the sovereign. On this account Confucius said, "Yes! It is the Spring and Autumn which will make men know me, and it is the Spring and Autumn which will make men condemn me."
'Once more, sage sovereigns cease to arise, and the princes of the States give the reins to their lusts. Unemployed scholars indulge in unreasonable discussions. The words of Yang Zhu and Mo Di fill the country. If you listen to people's discourses throughout it, you will find that they have adopted the views either of Yang or of Mo. Now, Yang's principle is "each one for himself," which does not acknowledge the claims of the sovereign. Mo's principle is "to love all equally," which does not acknowledge the peculiar affection due to a father. But to acknowledge neither king nor father is to be in the state of a beast. Gong Meng Yi said, "In their kitchens, there is fat meat. In their stables, there are fat horses. But their people have the look of hunger, and on the wilds there are those who have died of famine. This is leading on beasts to devour men." If the principles of Yang and Mo be not stopped, and the principles of Confucius not set forth, then those perverse speakings will delude the people, and stop up the path of benevolence and righteousness. When benevolence and righteousness are stopped up, beasts will be led on to devour men, and men will devour one another. I am alarmed by these things, and address myself to the defence of the doctrines of the former sages, and to oppose Yang and Mo. I drive away their licentious expressions, so that such perverse speakers may not be able to show themselves. Their delusions spring up in men's minds, and do injury to their practice of affairs. Shown in their practice of affairs, they are pernicious to their government. When sages shall rise up again, they will not change my words.
'In former times, Yu repressed the vast waters of the inundation, and the country was reduced to order. Zhou Gong's achievements extended even to the barbarous tribes of the east and north, and he drove away all ferocious animals, and the people enjoyed repose. Confucius completed the "Spring and Autumn," and rebellious ministers and villainous sons were struck with terror. It is said in the Book of Poetry, "He smote the barbarians of the west and the north; He punished Jing and Shu; And no one dared to resist us." These father-deniers and king-deniers would have been smitten by Zhou Gong. I also wish to rectify men's hearts, and to put an end to those perverse doctrines, to oppose their one-sided actions and banish away their licentious expressions - and thus to carry on the work of the three sages. Do I do so because I am fond of disputing? I am compelled to do it. Whoever is able to oppose Yang and Mo is a disciple of the sages.'
Kuang Zhang said to Mencius, 'Is not Chen Zhong a man of true self-denying purity? He was living in Wu Ling, and for three days was without food, till he could neither hear nor see. Over a well there grew a plum-tree, the fruit of which had been more than half eaten by worms. He crawled to it, and tried to eat some of the fruit, when, after swallowing three mouthfuls, he recovered his sight and hearing.'
Mencius replied, 'Among the scholars of Qi, I must regard Zhong as the thumb among the fingers. But still, where is the self-denying purity he pretends to? To carry out the principles which he holds, one must become an earthworm, for so only can it be done. Now, an earthworm eats the dry mould above, and drinks the yellow spring below. Was the house in which Zhong dwells built by a Bo Yi? or was it built by a robber like Zhi? Was the millet which he eats planted by a Bo Yi? or was it planted by a robber like Zhi? These are things which cannot be known.'
'But,' said Zhang, 'what does that matter? He himself weaves sandals of hemp, and his wife twists and dresses threads of hemp to sell or exchange them.'
Mencius rejoined, 'Zhong belongs to an ancient and noble family of Qi. His elder brother Dai received from Gai a revenue of 10,000 zhong, but he considered his brother's emolument to be unrighteous, and would not eat of it, and in the same way he considered his brother's house to be unrighteous, and would not dwell in it. Avoiding his brother and leaving his mother, he went and dwelt in Wu Ling. One day afterwards, he returned to their house, when it happened that some one sent his brother a present of a live goose. He, knitting his eyebrows, said, "What are you going to use that cackling thing for?" By-and-by his mother killed the goose, and gave him some of it to eat. Just then his brother came into the house, and said, "It is the flesh of that cackling thing," upon which he went out and vomited it. Thus, what his mother gave him he would not eat, but what his wife gives him he eats. He will not dwell in his brother's house, but he dwells in Wu Ling. How can he in such circumstances complete the style of life which he professes? With such principles as Zhong holds, a man must be an earthworm, and then he can carry them out.'