The Chinese Classics/Volume 2/The Works of Mencius/chapter14
Jin Xin II
Mencius said, 'The opposite indeed of benevolent was the king Hui of Liang! The benevolent, beginning with what they care for, proceed to what they do not care for. Those who are the opposite of benevolent, beginning with what they do not care for, proceed to what they care for.'
Gong Sun Chou said, 'What do you mean?'
Mencius answered, 'The king Hui of Liang, for the matter of territory, tore and destroyed his people, leading them to battle. Sustaining a great defeat, he would engage again, and afraid lest they should not be able to secure the victory, urged his son whom he loved till he sacrificed him with them. This is what I call "beginning with what they do not care for, and proceeding to what they care for."'
Mencius said, 'In the "Spring and Autumn" there are no righteous wars. Instances indeed there are of one war better than another. "Correction" is when the supreme authority punishes its subjects by force of arms. Hostile States do not correct one another.'
Mencius said, 'It would be better to be without the Book of History than to give entire credit to it. In the "Completion of the War," I select two or three passages only, which I believe. "The benevolent man has no enemy under heaven. When the prince the most benevolent was engaged against him who was the most the opposite, how could the blood of the people have flowed till it floated the pestles of the mortars?"'
Mencius said, 'There are men who say "I am skilful at marshalling troops, I am skilful at conducting a battle!" They are great criminals. If the ruler of a State love benevolence, he will have no enemy in the kingdom. When Tang was executing his work of correction in the south, the rude tribes on the north murmured. When he was executing it in the east, the rude tribes on the west murmured. Their cry was "Why does he make us last?" When king Wu punished Yin, he had only three hundred chariots of war, and three thousand life-guards. The king said, "Do not fear. Let me give you repose. I am no enemy to the people!" On this, they bowed their heads to the earth, like the horns of animals falling off. "Royal correction" is but another word for rectifying. Each State wishing itself to be corrected, what need is there for fighting?'
Mencius said, 'A carpenter or a carriage-maker may give a man the circle and square, but cannot make him skilful in the use of them.'
Mencius said, 'Shun's manner of eating his parched grain and herbs was as if he were to be doing so all his life. When he became sovereign, and had the embroidered robes to wear, the lute to play, and the two daughters of Yao to wait on him, he was as if those things belonged to him as a matter of course.'
Mencius said, 'From this time forth I know the heavy consequences of killing a man's near relations. When a man kills another's father, that other will kill his father; when a man kills another's elder brother, that other will kill his elder brother. So he does not himself indeed do the act, but there is only an interval between him and it.'
Mencius said, 'Anciently, the establishment of the frontier-gates was to guard against violence. Nowadays, it is to exercise violence.'
Mencius said, 'If a man himself do not walk in the right path, it will not be walked in even by his wife and children. If he order men according to what is not the right way, he will not be able to get the obedience of even his wife and children.'
Mencius said, 'A bad year cannot prove the cause of death to him whose stores of gain are large; an age of corruption cannot confound him whose equipment of virtue is complete.'
Mencius said, 'A man who loves fame may be able to decline a State of a thousand chariots; but if he be not really the man to do such a thing, it will appear in his countenance, in the matter of a dish of rice or a platter of soup.'
Mencius said, 'If men of virtue and ability be not confided in, a State will become empty and void. Without the rules of propriety and distinctions of right, the high and the low will be thrown into confusion. Without the great principles of government and their various business, there will not be wealth sufficient for the expenditure.'
Mencius said, 'There are instances of individuals without benevolence, who have got possession of a single State, but there has been no instance of the throne's being got by one without benevolence.'
Mencius said, 'The people are the most important element in a nation; the spirits of the land and grain are the next; the sovereign is the lightest. Therefore to gain the peasantry is the way to become sovereign; to gain the sovereign is the way to become a prince of a State; to gain the prince of a State is the way to become a great officer. When a prince endangers the altars of the spirits of the land and grain, he is changed, and another appointed in his place. When the sacrificial victims have been perfect, the millet in its vessels all pure, and the sacrifices offered at their proper seasons, if yet there ensue drought, or the waters overflow, the spirits of the land and grain are changed, and others appointed in their place.'
Mencius said, 'A sage is the teacher of a hundred generations - this is true of Bo Yi and Hui of Liu Xia. Therefore when men now bear the character of Bo Yi, the corrupt become pure, and the weak acquire determination. When they hear the character of Hui of Liu Xia, the mean become generous, and the niggardly become liberal. Those two made themselves distinguished a hundred generations ago, and after a hundred generations, those who hear of them, are all aroused in this manner. Could such effects be produced by them, if they had not been sages? And how much more did they affect those who were in contiguity with them, and felt their inspiring influence!'
Mencius said, 'Benevolence is the distinguishing characteristic of man. As embodied in man's conduct, it is called the path of duty.'
Mencius said, 'When Confucius was leaving Lu, he said, "I will set out by-and-by;" - this was the way in which to leave the State of his parents. When he was leaving Qi, he strained off with his hand the water in which his rice was being rinsed, took the rice, and went away - this was the way in which to leave a strange State.'
Mencius said, 'The reason why the superior man was reduced to straits between Chen and Cai was because neither the princes of the time nor their ministers sympathized or communicated with him.'
Mo Qi said, 'Greatly am I from anything to depend upon from the mouths of men.'
Mencius observed, 'There is no harm in that. Scholars are more exposed than others to suffer from the mouths of men. It is said, in the Book of Poetry, "My heart is disquieted and grieved, I am hated by the crowd of mean creatures." This might have been said by Confucius. And again, "Though he did not remove their wrath, He did not let fall his own fame." This might be said of king Wen.'
Mencius said, 'Anciently, men of virtue and talents by means of their own enlightenment made others enlightened. Nowadays, it is tried, while they are themselves in darkness, and by means of that darkness, to make others enlightened.'
Mencius said to the disciple Gao, 'There are the footpaths along the hills; if suddenly they be used, they become roads; and if, as suddenly they are not used, the wild grass fills them up. Now, the wild grass fills up your mind.'
The disciple Gao said, 'The music of Yu was better than that of king Wen.'
Mencius observed, 'On what ground do you say so?'
And the other replied, 'Because at the pivot the knob of Yu's bells is nearly worn through.'
Mencius said, 'How can that be a sufficient proof? Are the ruts at the gate of a city made by a single two-horsed chariot?'
When Qi was suffering from famine, Chen Zhen said to Mencius, 'The people are all thinking that you, Master, will again ask that the granary of Tang be opened for them. I apprehend you will not do so a second time.'
Mencius said, 'To do it would be to act like Feng Fu. There was a man of that name in Jin, famous for his skill in seizing tigers. Afterwards he became a scholar of reputation, and going once out to the wild country, he found the people all in pursuit of a tiger. The tiger took refuge in a corner of a hill, where no one dared to attack him, but when they saw Feng Fu, they ran and met him. Feng Fu immediately bared his arms, and descended from the carriage. The multitude were pleased with him, but those who were scholars laughed at him.'
Mencius said, 'For the mouth to desire sweet tastes, the eye to desire beautiful colours, the ear to desire pleasant sounds, the nose to desire fragrant odours, and the four limbs to desire ease and rest - these things are natural. But there is the appointment of Heaven in connexion with them, and the superior man does not say of his pursuit of them, "It is my nature." The exercise of love between father and son, the observance of righteousness between sovereign and minister, the rules of ceremony between guest and host, the display of knowledge in recognising the talented, and the fulfilling the heavenly course by the sage - these are the appointment of Heaven. But there is an adaptation of our nature for them. The superior man does not say, in reference to them, "It is the appointment of Heaven."'
Hao Sheng Bu Hai asked, saying, 'What sort of man is Yue Zheng?'
Mencius replied, 'He is a good man, a real man.'
'What do you mean by "A good man," "A real man?"'
The reply was, 'A man who commands our liking is what is called a good man. He whose goodness is part of himself is what is called real man. He whose goodness has been filled up is what is called beautiful man. He whose completed goodness is brightly displayed is what is called a great man. When this great man exercises a transforming influence, he is what is called a sage. When the sage is beyond our knowledge, he is what is called a spirit-man. Yue Zheng is between the two first characters, and below the four last.'
Mencius said, 'Those who are fleeing from the errors of Mo naturally turn to Yang, and those who are fleeing from the errors of Yang naturally turn to orthodoxy. When they so turn, they should at once and simply be received. Those who nowadays dispute with the followers of Yang and Mo do so as if they were pursuing a stray pig, the leg of which, after they have got it to enter the pen, they proceed to tie.'
Mencius said, 'There are the exactions of hempen-cloth and silk, of grain, and of personal service. The prince requires but one of these at once, deferring the other two. If he require two of them at once, then the people die of hunger. If he require the three at once, then fathers and sons are separated.'
Mencius said, 'The precious things of a prince are three: the territory, the people, the government and its business. If one value as most precious pearls and jade, calamity is sure to befall him.'
Pen Cheng Kuo having obtained an official situation in Qi, Mencius said, 'He is a dead man, that Pen Cheng Kuo!'
Pen Cheng Kuo being put to death, the disciples asked, saying, 'How did you know, Master, that he would meet with death?'
Mencius replied, 'He was a man, who had a little ability, but had not learned the great doctrines of the superior man. He was just qualified to bring death upon himself, but for nothing more.'
When Mencius went to Teng, he was lodged in the Upper palace. A sandal in the process of making had been placed there in a window, and when the keeper of the place came to look for it, he could not find it. On this, some one asked Mencius, saying, 'Is it thus that your followers pilfer?'
Mencius replied, 'Do you think that they came here to pilfer the sandal?'
The man said, 'I apprehend not. But you, Master, having arranged to give lessons, do not go back to inquire into the past, and you do not reject those who come to you. If they come with the mind to learn, you receive them without any more ado.'
Mencius said, 'All men have some things which they cannot bear; extend that feeling to what they can bear, and benevolence will be the result. All men have some things which they will not do; extend that feeling to the things which they do, and righteousness will be the result. If a man can give full development to the feeling which makes him shrink from injuring others, his benevolence will be more than can be called into practice. If he can give full development to the feeling which refuses to break through, or jump over, a wall, his righteousness will be more than can be called into practice. If he can give full development to the real feeling of dislike with which he receives the salutation, "Thou," "Thou," he will act righteously in all places and circumstances. When a scholar speaks what he ought not to speak, by guile of speech seeking to gain some end; and when he does not speak what he ought to speak, by guile of silence seeking to gain some end; both these cases are of a piece with breaking through a neighbour's wall.'
Mencius said, 'Words which are simple, while their meaning is far-reaching, are good words. Principles which, as held, are compendious, while their application is extensive, are good principles. The words of the superior man do not go below the girdle, but great principles are contained in them. The principle which the superior man holds is that of personal cultivation, but the kingdom is thereby tranquillized. The disease of men is this: that they neglect their own fields, and go to weed the fields of others, and that what they require from others is great, while what they lay upon themselves is light.'
Mencius said, 'Yao and Shun were what they were by nature; Tang and Wu were so by returning to natural virtue. When all the movements, in the countenance and every turn of the body, are exactly what is proper, that shows the extreme degree of the complete virtue. Weeping for the dead should be from real sorrow, and not because of the living. The regular path of virtue is to be pursued without any bend, and from no view to emolument. The words should all be necessarily sincere, not with any desire to do what is right. The superior man performs the law of right, and thereby waits simply for what has been appointed.'
Mencius said, 'Those who give counsel to the great should despise them, and not look at their pomp and display. Halls several times eight cubits high, with beams projecting several cubits; these, if my wishes were to be realized, I would not have. Food spread before me over ten cubits square, and attendants and concubines to the amount of hundreds; these, though my wishes were realized, I would not have. Pleasure and wine, and the dash of hunting, with thousands of chariots following after me; these, though my wishes were realized, I would not have. What they esteem are what I would have nothing to do with; what I esteem are the rules of the ancients. Why should I stand in awe of them?'
Mencius said, 'To nourish the mind there is nothing better than to make the desires few. Here is a man whose desires are few - in some things he may not be able to keep his heart, but they will be few. Here is a man whose desires are many - in some things he may be able to keep his heart, but they will be few.'
Mencius said, 'Zeng Xi was fond of sheep-dates, and his son, the philosopher Zeng, could not bear to eat sheep-dates.' Gong Sun Chou asked, saying, 'Which is best, minced meat and broiled meat, or sheep-dates?'
Mencius said, 'Mince and broiled meat, to be sure.'
Gong Sun Chou went on, 'Then why did the philosopher Zeng eat mince and broiled meat, and would not eat sheep-dates?'
Mencius answered, 'For mince and broiled meat there is a common liking, while that for sheep-dates was peculiar. We avoid the name, but do not avoid the surname. The surname is common; the name is peculiar.'
Wan Zhang asked, saying, 'Confucius, when he was in Chen, said: "Let me return. The scholars of my school are ambitious, but hasty. They are for advancing and seizing their object, but cannot forget their early ways." Why did Confucius, when he was in Chen, think of the ambitious scholars of Lu?'
Mencius replied, 'Confucius not getting men pursuing the true medium, to whom he might communicate his instructions, determined to take the ardent and the cautiously-decided. The ardent would advance to seize their object; the cautiously-decided would keep themselves from certain things. It is not to be thought that Confucius did not wish to get men pursuing the true medium, but being unable to assure himself of finding such, he therefore thought of the next class.'
'I venture to ask what sort of men they were who could be styled "The ambitious?"'
'Such,' replied Mencius, 'as Qin Zhang, Zeng Xi, and Mu Pi, were those whom Confucius styled "ambitious."'
'Why were they styled "ambitious?"'
The reply was, 'Their aim led them to talk magniloquently, saying, "The ancients!" "The ancients!" But their actions, where we fairly compare them with their words, did not correspond with them. When he found also that he could not get such as were thus ambitious, he wanted to get scholars who would consider anything impure as beneath them. Those were the cautiously-decided, a class next to the former.' Zhang pursued his questioning, 'Confucius said, "They are only your good careful people of the villages at whom I feel no indignation, when they pass my door without entering my house. Your good careful people of the villages are the thieves of virtue."'
'What sort of people were they who could be styled "Your good careful people of the villages?"'
Mencius replied, 'They are those who say, "Why are they so magniloquent? Their words have not respect to their actions and their actions have not respect to their words, but they say, "The ancients! The ancients! Why do they act so peculiarly, and are so cold and distant? Born in this age, we should be of this age, to be good is all that is needed." Eunuch-like, flattering their generation - such are your good careful men of the villages.'
Wan Zhang said, 'Their whole village styles those men good and careful. In all their conduct they are so. How was it that Confucius considered them the thieves of virtue?'
Mencius replied, 'If you would blame them, you find nothing to allege. If you would criticise them, you have nothing to criticise. They agree with the current customs. They consent with an impure age. Their principles have a semblance of right-heartedness and truth. Their conduct has a semblance of disinterestedness and purity. All men are pleased with them, and they think themselves right, so that it is impossible to proceed with them to the principles of Yao and Shun. On this account they are called "The thieves of virtue." Confucius said, "I hate a semblance which is not the reality. I hate the darnel, lest it be confounded with the corn. I hate glib-tonguedness, lest it be confounded with righteousness. I hate sharpness of tongue, lest it be confounded with sincerity. I hate the music of Chang, lest it be confounded with the true music. I hate the reddish blue, lest it be confounded with vermilion. I hate your good careful men of the villages, lest they be confounded with the truly virtuous." The superior man seeks simply to bring back the unchanging standard, and, that being correct, the masses are roused to virtue. When they are so aroused, forthwith perversities and glossed wickedness disappear.'
Mencius said, 'From Yao and Shun down to Tang were 500 years and more. As to Yu and Gao Yao, they saw those earliest sages, and so knew their doctrines, while Tang heard their doctrines as transmitted, and so knew them. From Tang to king Wen were 500 years and more. As to Yi Yin, and Lai Zhu, they saw Tang and knew his doctrines, while king Wen heard them as transmitted, and so knew them. From king Wen to Confucius were 500 years and more. As to Tai Gong Wang and San Yi Sheng, they saw Wen, and so knew his doctrines, while Confucius heard them as transmitted, and so knew them. From Confucius downwards until now, there are only 100 years and somewhat more. The distance in time from the sage is so far from being remote, and so very near at hand was the sage's residence. In these circumstances, is there no one to transmit his doctrines? Yea, is there no one to do so?'