The Works of Mencius

Book 1, Part 2 (cont.): King Hûi of Liang


Chapter 4.

A ruler's prosperity depends on his exercising a restraint upon himself, and sympathizing with the people in their joys and sorrows.

1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î had an interview with Mencius in the Snow palace, and said to him, 'Do men of talents and worth likewise find pleasure in these things?' Mencius replied, 'They do; and if people generally are not able to enjoy themselves, they condemn their superiors.

2. 'For them, when they cannot enjoy themselves, to condemn their superiors is wrong, but when the superiors of the people do not make enjoyment a thing common to the people and themselves, they also do wrong.

3. 'When a ruler rejoices in the joy of his people, they also rejoice in his joy; when he grieves at the sorrow of his people, they also grieve at his sorrow. A sympathy of joy will pervade the kingdom ; a sympathy of sorrow will do the same:-- in such a state of things, it cannot be but that the ruler attain to the royal dignity.

4. 'Formerly, the duke Ching of Ch'î asked the minister Yen, saying, "I wish to pay a visit of inspection to Chwan-fû, and Cbâo-wû, and then to bend my course southward along the shore, till I come to Lang-yê. What shall I do that my tour may be fit to be compared with the visits of inspection made by the ancient sovereigns?"

5. 'The minister Yen replied, "An excellent inquiry! When the Son of Heaven visited the princes, it was called a tour of inspection, that is, be surveyed the States under their care. When the princes attended at the court of the Son of Heaven, it was called a report of office, that is, they reported their administration of their offices. Thus, neither of the proceedings was without a purpose. And moreover, in the spring they examined the ploughing, and supplied any deficiency of seed; in the autumn they examined the reaping, and supplied any deficiency of yield. There is the saying of the Hsiâ dynasty,-- If our king do not take his ramble, what will become of our happiness? If our king do not make his excursion, what will become of our help? That ramble, and that excursion, were a pattern to the princes.

6. '"Now, the state of things is different.-- A host marches in attendance on the ruler, and stores of provisions are consumed. The hungry are deprived of their food, and there is no rest for those who are called to toil. Maledictions are uttered by one to another with eyes askance, and the people proceed to the commission of wickedness. Thus the royal ordinances are violated, and the people are oppressed, and the supplies of food and drink flow away like water. The rulers yield themselves to the current, or they urge their way against it; they are wild; they are utterly lost:-- these things proceed to the grief of the inferior princes.

7. '"Descending along with the current, and forgetting to return, is what I call yielding to it. Pressing up against it, and forgetting to return, is what I call urging their way against it. Pursuing the chase without satiety is what I call being wild. Delighting in wine without satiety is what I call being lost.

8. '"The ancient sovereigns had no pleasures to which they gave themselves as on the flowing stream; no doings which might be so characterized as wild and lost.

9. '"It is for you, my prince, to pursue your course."'

10. 'The duke Ching was pleased. He issued a proclamation throughout his State, and went out and occupied a shed in the borders. From that time he began to open his granaries to supply the wants of the people, and calling the Grand music-master, he said to him-- "Make for me music to suit a prince and his minister pleased with each other." And it was then that the Chî-shâo and Chio-shâo were made, in the words to which it was said, "Is it a fault to restrain one's prince?" He who restrains his prince loves his prince.'

Chapter 5.

True royal government will assuredly raise to the supreme dignity, and neither greed of wealth, nor love of woman, need interfere with its exercise.

1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î said, 'People all tell me to pull down and remove the Hall of Distinction. Shall I pull it down, or stop the movement for that object?'

2. Mencius replied, 'The Hall of Distinction is a Hall appropriate to the sovereigns. If your Majesty wishes to practise the true royal government, then do not pull it down.'

3. The king said, 'May I hear from you what the true royal government is?' 'Formerly,' was the reply, 'king Wan's government of Ch'î was as follows:-- The husbandmen cultivated for the government one-ninth of the land; the descendants of officers were salaried; at the passes and in the markets, strangers were inspected, but goods were not taxed: there were no prohibitions respecting the ponds and weirs; the wives and children of criminals were not involved in their guilt. There were the old and wifeless, or widowers; the old and husbandless, or widows; the old and childless, or solitaries ; the young and fatherless, or orphans:-- these four classes are the most destitute of the people, and have none to whom they can tell their wants, and king Wan, in the institution of his government with its benevolent action, made them the first objects of his regard, as it is said in the Book of Poetry,

"The rich may get through life well;
But alas! for the miserable and solitary!"'

4. The king said, 'O excellent words!' Mencius said, 'Since your Majesty deems them excellent, why do you not practise them?' 'I have an infirmity,' said the king; 'I am fond of wealth.' The reply was, 'Formerly, Kung-lîu was fond of wealth. It is said in the Book of Poetry,

"He reared his ricks, and filled his granaries,
He tied up dried provisions and grain,
In bottomless bags, and sacks,
That he might gather his people together, and glorify his State.
With bows and arrows all-displayed,
With shields, and spears, and battle-axes, large and small,
He commenced his march."

In this way those who remained in their old seat had their ricks and granaries, and those who marched had their bags of provisions. It was not till after this that he thought he could begin his march. If your Majesty loves wealth, give the people power to gratify the same feeling, and what difficulty will there be in your attaining the royal sway?'

5. The king said, 'I have an infirmity; I am fond of beauty.' The reply was, 'Formerly, king T'âi was fond of beauty, and loved his wife. It is said in the Book of Poetry,

"Kû-kung T'an-fû
Came in the morning, galloping his horse,
By the banks of the western waters,
As far as the foot of Ch'î hill,
Along with the lady of Chiang;
They came and together chose the site for their settlement."

At that time, in the seclusion of the house, there were no dissatisfied women, and abroad, there were no unmarried men. If your Majesty loves beauty, let the people be able to gratify the same feeling, and what difficulty will there be in your attaining the royal sway?'

Chapter 6.

Bringing home his bad government to the king of Ch'î.

1. Mencius said to the king Hsüan of Ch'î, 'Suppose that one of your Majesty's ministers were to entrust his wife and children to the care of his friend, while he himself went into Ch'û to travel, and that, on his return, he should find that the friend had let his wife and children suffer from cold and hunger;-- how ought he to deal with him?' The king said, 'He should cast him off.'

2. Mencius proceeded, 'Suppose that the chief criminal judge could not regulate the officers under him, how would you deal with him?' The king said, 'Dismiss him.'

3. Mencius again said, 'If within the four borders of your kingdom there is not good government, what is to be done?' The king looked to the right and left, and spoke of other matters.