The Chinese Classics/Volume 2/The Works of Mencius/chapter10
Wan Zhang II
Mencius said, 'Bo Yi would not allow his eyes to look on a bad sight, nor his ears to listen to a bad sound. He would not serve a prince whom he did not approve, nor command a people whom he did not esteem. In a time of good government he took office, and on the occurrence of confusion he retired. He could not bear to dwell either in a court from which a lawless government emanated, or among lawless people. He considered his being in the same place with a villager, as if he were to sit amid mud and coals with his court robes and court cap. In the time of Zhou he dwelt on the shores of the North sea, waiting the purification of the kingdom. Therefore when men now hear the character of Bo Yi, the corrupt become pure, and the weak acquire determination.
'Yi Yin said, "Whom may I not serve? My serving him makes him my sovereign. What people may I not command? My commanding them makes them my people." In a time of good government he took office, and when confusion prevailed, he also took office. He said, "Heaven's plan in the production of mankind is this: that they who are first informed should instruct those who are later in being informed, and they who first apprehend principles should instruct those who are slower in doing so. I am the one of Heaven's people who has first apprehended; I will take these principles and instruct the people in them." He thought that among all the people of the kingdom, even the common men and women, if there were any who did not share in the enjoyment of such benefits as Yao and Shun conferred, it was as if he himself pushed them into a ditch - for he took upon himself the heavy charge of the kingdom.
'Hui of Liu Xia was not ashamed to serve an impure prince, nor did he think it low to be an inferior officer. When advanced to employment, he did not conceal his virtue, but made it a point to carry out his principles. When dismissed and left without office, he did not murmur. When straitened by poverty, he did not grieve. When thrown into the company of village people, he was quite at ease and could not bear to leave them. He had a saying, "You are you, and I am I. Although you stand by my side with breast and arms bare, or with your body naked, how can you defile me?" Therefore when men now hear the character of Hui of Liu Xia, the mean become generous, and the niggardly become liberal.
'When Confucius was leaving Qi, he strained off with his hand the water in which his rice was being rinsed, took the rice, and went away. When he left Lu, he said, "I will set out by-and-by" - it was right he should leave the country of his parents in this way. When it was proper to go away quickly, he did so; when it was proper to delay, he did so; when it was proper to keep in retirement, he did so; when it was proper to go into office, he did so - this was Confucius.'
Mencius said,'Bo Yi among the sages was the pure one; Yi Yin was the one most inclined to take office; Hui of Liu Xia was the accommodating one; and Confucius was the timeous one. In Confucius we have what is called a complete concert. A complete concert is when the large bell proclaims the commencement of the music, and the ringing stone proclaims its close. The metal sound commences the blended harmony of all the instruments, and the winding up with the stone terminates that blended harmony. The commencing that harmony is the work of wisdom. The terminating it is the work of sageness. As a comparison for wisdom, we may liken it to skill, and as a comparison for sageness, we may liken it to strength - as in the case of shooting at a mark a hundred paces distant. That you reach it is owing to your strength, but that you hit the mark is not owing to your strength.'
Bei Gong Qi asked Mencius, saying, 'What was the arrangement of dignities and emoluments determined by the House of Zhou?'
Mencius replied, 'The particulars of that arrangement cannot be learned, for the princes, disliking them as injurious to themselves, have all made away with the records of them. Still I have learned the general outline of them. The Son of Heaven constituted one dignity; the Gong one; the Hou one; the Bai one; and the Zi and the Nan each one of equal rank - altogether making five degrees of rank. The Ruler again constituted one dignity; the Chief Minister one; the Great Officers one; the Scholars of the First Class one; those of the Middle Class one; and those of the Lowest Class one - altogether making six degrees of dignity.
'To the Son of Heaven there was allotted a territory of a thousand li square. A Gong and a Hou had each a hundred li square. A Bai had seventy li, and a Zi and a Nan had each fifty li. The assignments altogether were of four amounts. Where the territory did not amount to fifty li, the chief could not have access himself to the Son of Heaven. His land was attached to some Hou-ship, and was called a Fu Yong. The Chief ministers of the Son of Heaven received an amount of territory equal to that of a Hou; a Great officer received as much as a Bai; and a scholar of the first class as much as a Zi or a Nan.
'In a great State, where the territory was a hundred li square, the ruler had ten times as much income as his Chief ministers; a Chief minister four times as much as a Great officer; a Great officer twice as much as a scholar of the first class; a scholar of the first class twice as much as one of the middle; a scholar of the middle class twice as much as one of the lowest; the scholars of the lowest class, and such of the common people as were employed about the government offices, had for their emolument as much as was equal to what they would have made by tilling the fields. In a State of the next order, where the territory was seventy li square, the ruler had ten times as much revenue as his Chief minister; a Chief minister three times as much as a Great officer; a Great officer twice as much as a scholar of the first class; a scholar of the first class twice as much as one of the middle; a scholar of the middle class twice as much as one of the lowest; the scholars of the lowest class, and such of the common people as were employed about the government offices, had for their emolument as much as was equal to what they would have made by tilling the fields. In a small State, where the territory was fifty li square, the ruler had ten times as much revenue as his Chief minister; a Chief minister had twice as much as a Great officer; a Great officer twice as much as a scholar of the highest class; a scholar of the highest class twice as much as one of the middle; a scholar of the middle class twice as much as one of the lowest; scholars of the lowest class, and such of the common people as were employed about the government offices, had the same emolument - as much, namely, as was equal to what they would have made by tilling the fields. As to those who tilled the fields, each husbandman received a hundred mu. When those mu were manured, the best husbandmen of the highest class supported nine individuals, and those ranking next to them supported eight. The best husbandmen of the second class supported seven individuals, and those ranking next to them supported six; while husbandmen of the lowest class only supported five. The salaries of the common people who were employed about the government offices were regulated according to these differences.'
Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'I venture to ask the principles of friendship.'
Mencius replied, 'Friendship should be maintained without any presumption on the ground of one's superior age, or station, or the circumstances of his relatives. Friendship with a man is friendship with his virtue, and does not admit of assumptions of superiority. There was Meng Xian, chief of a family of a hundred chariots. He had five friends, namely, Yue Zheng Qiu, Mu Zhong, and three others whose names I have forgotten. With those five men Xian maintained a friendship, because they thought nothing about his family. If they had thought about his family, he would not have maintained his friendship with them. Not only has the chief of a family of a hundred chariots acted thus. The same thing was exemplified by the sovereign of a small State. The duke Hui of Bi said, "I treat Zi Si as my Teacher, and Yan Ban as my Friend. As to Wang Shun and Chang Xi, they serve me." Not only has the sovereign of a small State acted thus. The same thing has been exemplified by the sovereign of a large State. There was the duke Ping of Jin with Hai Tang - when Tang told him to come into his house, he came; when he told him to be seated, he sat; when he told him to eat, he ate. There might only be coarse rice and soup of vegetables, but he always ate his fill, not daring to do otherwise. Here, however, he stopped, and went no farther. He did not call him to share any of Heaven's places, or to govern any of Heaven's offices, or to partake of any of Heaven's emoluments. His conduct was but a scholar's honouring virtue and talents, not the honouring them proper to a king or a duke. Shun went up to court and saw the sovereign, who lodged him as his son-in-law in the second palace. The sovereign also enjoyed there Shun's hospitality. Alternately he was host and guest. Here was the sovereign maintaining friendship with a private man. Respect shown by inferiors to superiors is called giving to the noble the observance due to rank. Respect shown by superiors to inferiors is called giving honour to talents and virtue. The rightness in each case is the same.'
Wan Zhang asked Mencius, saying, 'I venture to ask what feeling of the mind is expressed in the presents of friendship?'
Mencius replied, 'The feeling of respect.'
'How is it,' pursued Zhang, 'that the declining a present is accounted disrespectful?'
The answer was, 'When one of honourable rank presents a gift, to say in the mind, "Was the way in which he got this righteous or not? I must know this before I can receive it" - this is deemed disrespectful, and therefore presents are not declined.'
Wan Zhang asked again, 'When one does not take on him in so many express words to refuse the gift, but having declined it in his heart, saying, "It was taken by him unrighteously from the people," and then assigns some other reason for not receiving it - is not this a proper course?'
Mencius said, 'When the donor offers it on a ground of reason, and his manner of doing so is according to propriety; in such a case Confucius would have received it.'
Wan Zhang said, 'Here now is one who stops and robs people outside the gates of the city. He offers his gift on a ground of reason, and does so in a manner according to propriety - would the reception of it so acquired by robbery be proper?'
Mencius replied, 'It would not be proper. In "The Announcement to Kang" it is said, "When men kill others, and roll over their bodies to take their property, being reckless and fearless of death, among all the people there are none but detest them" - thus, such characters are to be put to death, without waiting to give them warning. Yin received this rule from Xia and Zhou received it from Yin. It cannot be questioned, and to the present day is clearly acknowledged. How can the grift of a robber be received?'
Zhang said, 'The princes of the present day take from their people just as a robber despoils his victim. Yet if they put a good face of propriety on their gifts, then the superior man receives them. I venture to ask how you explain this.'
Mencius answered, 'Do you think that, if there should arise a truly royal sovereign, he would collect the princes of the present day, and put them all to death? Or would he admonish them, and then, on their not changing their ways, put them to death? Indeed, to call every one who takes what does not properly belong to him a robber, is pushing a point of resemblance to the utmost, and insisting on the most refined idea of righteousness. When Confucius was in office in Lu, the people struggled together for the game taken in hunting, and he also did the same. If that struggling for the captured game was proper, how much more may the gifts of the princes be received!'
Zhang urged, 'Then are we to suppose that when Confucius held office, it was not with the view to carry his doctrines into practice?'
'It was with that view,' Mencius replied,
And Zhang rejoined, 'If the practice of his doctrines was his business, what had he to do with that struggling for the captured game?'
Mencius said, 'Confucius first rectified his vessels of sacrifice according to the registers, and did not fill them so rectified with food gathered from every quarter.'
'But why did he not go away?'
'He wished to make a trial of carrying his doctrines into practice. When that trial was sufficient to show that they could be practised and they were still not practised, then he went away, and thus it was that he never completed in any State a residence of three years. Confucius took office when he saw that the practice of his doctrines was likely; he took office when his reception was proper; he took office when he was supported by the State. In the case of his relation to Qi Huan, he took office, seeing that the practice of his doctrines was likely. With the duke Ling of Wei he took office, because his reception was proper. With the duke Xiao of Wei he took office, because he was maintained by the State.'
Mencius said, 'Office is not sought on account of poverty, yet there are times when one seeks office on that account. Marriage is not entered into for the sake of being attended to by the wife, yet there are times when one marries on that account. He who takes office on account of his poverty must decline an honourable situation and occupy a low one; he must decline riches and prefer to be poor. What office will be in harmony with this declining an honourable situation and occupying a low one, this declining riches and preferring to be poor? Such an one as that of guarding the gates, or beating the watchman's stick. Confucius was once keeper of stores, and he then said, "My calculations must be all right. That is all I have to care about." He was once in charge of the public fields, and he then said, "The oxen and sheep must be fat and strong, and superior. That is all I have to care about." When one is in a low situation, to speak of high matters is a crime. When a scholar stands in a prince's court, and his principles are not carried into practice, it is a shame to him.'
Wan Zhang said, 'What is the reason that a scholar does not accept a stated support from a prince?'
Mencius replied, 'He does not presume to do so. When a prince loses his State, and then accepts a stated support from another prince, this is in accordance with propriety. But for a scholar to accept such support from any of the princes is not in accordance with propriety.'
Wan Zhang said, 'If the prince send him a present of grain, for instance, does he accept it?'
'He accepts it,' answered Mencius.
'On what principle of righteousness does he accept it?'
'Why, the prince ought to assist the people in their necessities.'
Zhang pursued, 'Why is it that the scholar will thus accept the prince's help, but will not accept his pay?'
The answer was, 'He does not presume to do so.'
'I venture to ask why he does not presume to do so.'
'Even the keepers of the gates, with their watchmen's sticks, have their regular offices for which they can take their support from the prince. He who without a regular office should receive the pay of the prince must be deemed disrespectful.'
Zhang asked, 'If the prince sends a scholar a present, he accepts it; I do not know whether this present may be constantly repeated.'
Mencius answered, 'There was the conduct of the duke Mu to Zi Si. He made frequent inquiries after Zi Si's health, and sent him frequent presents of cooked meat. Zi Si was displeased; and at length, having motioned to the messenger to go outside the great door, he bowed his head to the ground with his face to the north, did obeisance twice, and declined the gift, saying, "From this time forth I shall know that the prince supports me as a dog or a horse." And so from that time a servant was no more sent with the presents. When a prince professes to be pleased with a man of talents and virtue, and can neither promote him to office, nor support him in the proper way, can he be said to be pleased with him?'
Zhang said, 'I venture to ask how the sovereign of a State, when he wishes to support a superior man, must proceed, that he may be said to do so in the proper way?'
Mencius answered, 'At first, the present must be offered with the prince's commission, and the scholar, making obeisance twice with his head bowed to the ground, will receive it. But after this the storekeeper will continue to send grain, and the master of the kitchen to send meat, presenting it as if without the prince's express commission. Zi Si considered that the meat from the prince's caldron, giving him the annoyance of constantly doing obeisance, was not the way to support a superior man. There was Yao's conduct to Shun: He caused his nine sons to serve him, and gave him his two daughters in marriage; he caused the various officers, oxen and sheep, storehouses and granaries, all to be prepared to support Shun amid the channelled fields, and then he raised him to the most exalted situation. From this we have the expression, "The honouring of virtue and talents proper to a king or a duke."'
Wan Zhang said, 'I venture to ask what principle of righteousness is involved in a scholar's not going to see the princes?'
Mencius replied, 'A scholar residing in the city is called "a minister of the market-place and well," and one residing in the country is called "a minister of the grass and plants." In both cases he is a common man, and it is the rule of propriety that common men, who have not presented the introductory present and become ministers, should not presume to have interviews with the prince.'
Wan Zhang said, 'If a common man is called to perform any service, he goes and performs it; how is it that a scholar, when the prince, wishing to see him, calls him to his presence, refuses to go?'
Mencius replied, 'It is right to go and perform the service; it would not be right to go and see the prince. And,' added Mencius, 'on what account is it that the prince wishes to see the scholar?'
'Because of his extensive information, or because of his talents and virtue,' was the reply.
'If because of his extensive information,' said Mencius, 'such a person is a teacher, and the sovereign would not call him - how much less may any of the princes do so? If because of his talents and virtue, then I have not heard of any one wishing to see a person with those qualities, and calling him to his presence. During the frequent interviews of the duke Mu with Zi Si, he one day said to him, "Anciently, princes of a thousand chariots have yet been on terms of friendship with scholars - what do you think of such an intercourse?" Zi Si was displeased, and said, "The ancients have said, 'The scholar should be served:' how should they have merely said that he should be made a friend of?" When Zi Si was thus displeased, did he not say within himself, "With regard to our stations, you are sovereign, and I am subject. How can I presume to be on terms of friendship with my sovereign! With regard to our virtue, you ought to make me your master. How can you be on terms of friendship with me?" Thus, when a ruler of a thousand chariots sought to be on terms of friendship with a scholar, he could not obtain his wish - how much less could he call him to his presence! The duke Ching 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.'
Zhang said, 'May I ask with what a forester should be summoned?'
Mencius replied, 'With a skin cap. A common man should be summoned with a plain banner; a scholar who has taken office, with one having dragons embroidered on it; and a Great officer, with one having feathers suspended from the top of the staff. When the forester was summoned with the article appropriate to the summoning of a Great officer, he would have died rather than presume to go. If a common man were summoned with the article appropriate to the summoning of a scholar, how could he presume to go? How much more may we expect this refusal to go, when a man of talents and virtue is summoned in a way which is inappropriate to his character! When a prince wishes to see a man of talents and virtue, and does not take the proper course to get his wish, it is as if he wished him to enter his palace, and shut the door against him. Now, righteousness is the way, and propriety is the door, but it is only the superior man who can follow this way, and go out and in by this door. It is said in the Book of Poetry, "The way to Zhou is level like a whetstone, And straight as an arrow. The officers tread it, And the lower people see it."'
Wan Zhang said, 'When Confucius received the prince's message calling him, he went without waiting for his carriage. Doing so, did Confucius do wrong?'
Mencius replied, 'Confucius was in office, and had to observe its appropriate duties. And moreover, he was summoned on the business of his office.'
Mencius said to Wan Zhang, 'The scholar whose virtue is most distinguished in a village shall make friends of all the virtuous scholars in the village. The scholar whose virtue is most distinguished throughout a State shall make friends of all the virtuous scholars of that State. The scholar whose virtue is most distinguished throughout the kingdom shall make friends of all the virtuous scholars of the kingdom. When a scholar feels that his friendship with all the virtuous scholars of the kingdom is not sufficient to satisfy him, he proceeds to ascend to consider the men of antiquity. He repeats their poems, and reads their books, and as he does not know what they were as men, to ascertain this, he considers their history. This is to ascend and make friends of the men of antiquity.'
The king Xuan of Qi asked about the office of high ministers. Mencius said, 'Which high ministers is your Majesty asking about?'
'Are there differences among them?' inquired the king.
'There are' was the reply. 'There are the high ministers who are noble and relatives of the prince, and there are those who are of a different surname.'
The king said, 'I beg to ask about the high ministers who are noble and relatives of the prince.'
Mencius answered, 'If the prince have great faults, they ought to remonstrate with him, and if he do not listen to them after they have done so again and again, they ought to dethrone him.'
The king on this looked moved, and changed countenance. Mencius said, 'Let not your Majesty be offended. You asked me, and I dare not answer but according to truth.'
The king's countenance became composed, and he then begged to ask about high ministers who were of a different surname from the prince. Mencius said, 'When the prince has faults, they ought to remonstrate with him; and if he do not listen to them after they have done this again and again, they ought to leave the State.'