The Works of Mencius

Book 2, Part 2 (cont.): Kung-sun Ch'au


Chapter 3.

By what principles Mencius was guided in declining or accepting the gifts of princes.

1. Ch'an Tsin asked Mencius, saying, 'Formerly, when you were in Ch'î, the king sent you a present Of 2,400 taels of fine silver, and you refused to accept it. When you were in Sung, 1,680 taels were sent to you, which you accepted; and when you were in Hsieh, 1,200 taels were sent, which you likewise accepted. If your declining to accept the gift in the first case was right, your accepting it in the latter cases was wrong. If your accepting it in the latter cases was right, your declining to do so in the first case was wrong. You must accept, Master, one of these alternatives.'

2. Mencius said, 'I did right in all the cases.

3. 'When I was in Sung, I was about to take a long journey. Travellers must be provided with what is necessary for their expenses. The prince's message was, 'A present against travelling-expenses." Why should I have declined the gift?

4. 'When I was in Hsieh, I was apprehensive for my safety, and taking measures for my protection. The message was, "I have heard that you are taking measures to protect yourself, and send this to help you in procuring arms." Why should I have declined the gift?

5. 'But when I was in Ch'i, I had no occasion for money. To send a man a gift when he has no occasion for it, is to bribe him. How is it possible that a superior man should be taken with a bribe?'

Chapter 4.

How Mencius brought conviction of their faults home to the king and an officer of Ch'î.

1. Mencius having gone to P'ing-lû, addressed the governor of it, saying, 'If one of your spearmen should lose his place in the ranks three times in one day, would you, Sir, put him to death or not?' 'I would not wait for three times to do so,' was the reply.

2. Mencius said, 'Well then, you, Sir, have likewise lost your place in the ranks many times. In bad calamitous years, and years of famine, the old and feeble of your people, who have been found lying in the ditches and water-channels, and the able-bodied, who have been scattered about to the four quarters, have amounted to several thousand.' The governor replied, 'That is a state of things in which it does not belong to me Chü-hsin to act.'

3. 'Here,' said Mencius, 'is a man who receives charge of the cattle and sheep of another, and undertakes to feed them for him;-- of course he must search for pasture-ground and grass for them. If, after searching for those, he cannot find them, will he return his charge to the owner? or will he stand by and see them die?' 'Herein,' said the officer, 'I am guilty.'

4. Another day, Mencius had an audience of the king, and said to him, 'Of the governors of your Majesty's cities I am acquainted with five, but the only one of them who knows his faults is K'ung Chü-hsin.' He then repeated the conversation to the king, who said, 'In this matter, I am the guilty one.'

Chapter 5.

The freedom belonging to Mencius in relation to the measures of the king of Ch'î from his particular position, as unsalaried.

1. Mencius said to Ch'î Wâ, 'There seemed to be reason in your declining the governorship of Ling-ch'iû, and requesting to be appointed chief criminal judge, because the latter office would afford you the opportunity of speaking your views. Now several months have elapsed, and have you yet found nothing of which you might speak?'

2. On this, Ch'î Wâ remonstrated on some matter with the king, and, his counsel not being taken, resigned his office and went away.

3. The people of Ch'î said, 'In the course which he marked out for Ch'î Wâ he did well, but we do not know as to the course which he pursues for himself.'

4. His disciple Kung-tû told him these remarks.

5. Mencius said, 'I have heard that he who is in charge of an office, when he is prevented from fulfilling its duties, ought to take his departure, and that he on whom is the responsibility of giving his opinion, when he finds his words unattended to, ought to do the same. But I am in charge of no office; on me devolves no duty of speaking out my opinion:-- may not I therefore act freely and without any constraint, either in going forward or in retiring?'

Chapter 6.

Mencius's behavior with an unworthy associate.

1. Mencius, occupying the position of a high dignitary in Ch'î, went on a mission of condolence to T'ang. The king also sent Wang Hwan, the governor of Kâ, as assistant-commissioner. Wang Hwan, morning and evening, waited upon Mencius, who, during all the way to T'ang and back, never spoke to him about the business of their mission.

2. Kung-sun Ch'âu. said to Mencius, 'The position of a high dignitary of Ch'î is not a small one; the road from Ch'î to T'ang is not short. How was it that during all the way there and back, you never spoke to Hwan about the matters of your mission?' Mencius replied, 'There were the proper officers who attended to them. What occasion had I to speak to him about them?'