The care to be employed by a prince in the employment of ministers; and their relation to himself and the stability of the kingdom.
1. Mencius, having an interview with the king Hsüan of Ch'î, said to him, 'When men speak of "an ancient kingdom," it is not meant thereby that it has lofty trees in it, but that it has ministers sprung from families which have been noted in it for generations. Your Majesty has no intimate ministers even. Those whom you advanced yesterday are gone to-day, and you do not know it.'
2. The king said, 'How shall I know that they have not ability, and so avoid employing them at all?'
3. The reply was, 'The ruler of a State advances to office men of talents and virtue only as a matter of necessity. Since he will thereby cause the low to overstep the honourable, and distant to overstep his near relatives, ought he to do so but with caution?
4. 'When all those about you say,-- "This is a man of talents and worth," you may not therefore believe it. When your great officers all say,-- "This is a man of talents and virtue," neither may you for that believe it. When all the people say,-- "This is a man of talents and virtue," then examine into the case, and when you find that the man is such, employ him. When all those about you say,-- "This man won't do," don't listen to them. When all your great officers say,-- "This man won't do," don't listen to them. When the people all sav,-- "This man won't do," then examine into the case, and when you find that the man won't do, send him away.
5. 'When all those about you say,-- "This man deserves death," don't listen to them. When all your great officers say,-- "This man deserves death," don't listen to them. When the people all say,"This man deserves death," then inquire into the case, and when you see that the man deserves death, put him to death. In accordance with this we have the saying, "The people killed him."
6. 'You must act in this way in order to be the parent of the people.'
Killing a sovereign is not necessarily rebellion or murder.
1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, saying, 'Was it so, that T'ang banished Chieh, and that king Wû smote Châu?' Mencius replied, 'It is so in the records.'
2. The king said, 'May a minister then put his sovereign to death?'
3. Mencius said, 'He who outrages the benevolence proper to his nature, is called a robber; he who outrages righteousness, is called a ruffian. The robber and ruffian we call a mere fellow. I have heard of the cutting off of the fellow Châu, but I have not heard of the putting a sovereign to death, in his case.'
The absurdity of a ruler's not acting according to the counsel of the men of talents and virtue, whom he calls to aid in his government, but requiring them to follow his ways.
1. Mencius, having an interview with the king Hsüan of Ch'î, said to him, 'If you are going to build a large mansion, you will surely cause the Master of the workmen to look out for large trees, and when he has found such large trees, you will be glad, thinking that they will answer for the intended object. Should the workmen hew them so as to make them too small, then your Majesty will be angry, thinking that they will not answer for the purpose. Now, a man spends his youth in learning the principles of right government, and, being grown up to vigour, he wishes to put them in practice;-- if your Majesty says to him, "For the present put aside what you have learned, and follow me," what shall we say?
2. 'Here now you have a gem unwrought, in the stone. Although it may be worth 240,000 taels, you will surely employ a lapidary to cut and polish it. But when you come to the government of the State, then you say,-- "For the present put aside what you have learned, and follow me." How is it that you herein act so differently from your conduct in calling in the lapidary to cut the gem?'
The disposal of kingdoms rests with the minds of the people.
1. The people of Ch'î attacked Yen, and conquered it.
2. The king Hsüan asked, saying, 'Some tell me not to take possession of it for myself, and some tell me to take possession of it. For a kingdom of ten thousand chariots, attacking another of ten thousand chariots, to complete the conquest of it in fifty days, is an achievement beyond mere human strength. If I do not take possession of it, calamities from Heaven will surely come upon me. What do you say to my taking possession of it?'
3. Mencius replied, 'If the people of Yen will be pleased with your taking possession of it, then do so.-- Among the ancients there was one who acted on this principle, namely king Wû. If the people of Yen will not be pleased with your taking possession of it, then do not do so.-- Among the ancients there was one who acted on this principle, namely king Wan.
4. 'When, with all the strength of your country of ten thousand chariots, you attacked another country of ten thousand chariots, and the people brought baskets of rice and vessels of congee, to meet your Majesty's host, was there any other reason for this but that they hoped to escape out of fire and water ? If you make the water more deep and the fire more fierce, they will in like manner make another revolution.'
Ambition and avarice only make enemies and bring disasters. Safety and prosperity lie in a benevolent government.
1. The people of Ch'î, having smitten Yen, took possession of it, and upon this, the princes of the various States deliberated together, and resolved to deliver Yen from their power. The king Hsüan said to Mencius, 'The princes have formed many plans to attack me:-- how shall I prepare myself for them?' Mencius replied, 'I have heard of one who with seventy lî exercised all the functions of government throughout the kingdom. That was T'ang. I have never heard of a prince with a thousand lî standing in fear of others.'
2. 'It is said in the Book of History, As soon as T'ang began his work of executing justice, he commenced with Ko. The whole kingdom had confidence in him. When he pursued his work in the east, the rude tribes on the west murmured. So did those on the north, when he was engaged in the south. Their cry was-- "Why does he put us last?" Thus, the people looked to him, as we look in a time of great drought to the clouds and rainbows. The frequenters of the markets stopped not. The husbandmen 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 again in the Book of History, "We have waited for our prince long; the prince's coming will be our reviving!"
3. 'Now the ruler of Yen was tyrannizing over his people, and your Majesty went and punished him. The people supposed that you were going to deliver them out of the water and the fire, and brought baskets of rice and vessels of congee, to meet your Majesty's host. But you have slain their fathers and elder brothers, and put their sons and younger brothers in confinement. You have pulled down the ancestral temple of the State, and are removing to Ch'î its precious vessels. How can such a course be deemed proper? The rest of the kingdom is indeed jealously afraid of the strength of Ch'î; and now, when with a doubled territory you do not put in practice a benevolent government;-- it is this which sets the arms of the kingdom in in motion.
4. 'If your Majesty will make haste to issue an ordinance, restoring your captives, old and young, stopping the removal of the precious vessels, and saying that, after consulting with the people of Yen, you will appoint them a ruler, and withdraw from the country;-- in this way you may still be able to stop the threatened attack.'