Mencius's warnings to Sung K'ang on the error and danger of counselling the princes from the ground of profit, the proper ground being that of benevolence and righteousness.
1. Sung K'ang being about to go to Ch'û, Mencius met him in Shih-ch'iû.
2. 'Master, where are you going?' asked Mencius.
3. K'ang replied, 'I have heard that Ch'in and Ch'û are fighting together, and I am going to see the king of Ch'û and persuade him to cease hostilities. If he shall not be pleased with my advice, I shall go to see the king of Ch'in, and persuade him in the same way. Of the two kings I shall surely find that I can succeed with one of them.'
4. Mencius said, 'I will not venture to ask about the particulars, but I should like to hear the scope of your plan. What course will you take to try to persuade them?' K'ang answered, 'I will tell them how unprofitable their course is to them.' 'Master,' said Mencius, 'your aim is great, but your argument is not good.
5. 'If you, starting from the point of profit, offer your persuasive counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings are pleased with the consideration of profit so as to stop the movements of their armies, then all belonging to those armies will rejoice in the cessation of war, and find their pleasure in the pursuit of profit. Ministers will serve their sovereign for the profit of which they cherish the thought; sons will serve their fathers, and younger brothers will serve their elder brothers, from the same consideration:-- and the issue will be, that, abandoning benevolence and righteousness, sovereign and minister, father and son, younger brother and elder, will carry on all their intercourse with this thought of profit cherished in their breasts. But never has there been such a state of society, without ruin being the result of it.
6. 'If you, starting from the ground of benevolence and righteousness, offer your counsels to the kings of Ch'in and Ch'û, and if those kings are pleased with the consideration of benevolence and righteousness so as to stop the operations of their armies, then all belonging to those armies will rejoice in the stopping from war, and find their pleasure in benevolence and righteousness. Ministers will serve their sovereign, cherishing the principles of benevolence and righteousness; sons will serve their fathers, and younger brothers will serve their elder brothers, in the same way:-- and so, sovereign and minister, father and son, elder brother and younger, abandoning the thought of profit, will cherish the principles of benevolence and righteousness, and carry on all their intercourse upon them. But never has there been such a state of society, without the State where it prevailed rising to the royal sway. Why must you use that word "profit."'
How Mencius regulated himself in differently acknowledging favours which he received.
1. When Mencius was residing in Tsâu, the younger brother of the chief of Zan, who was guardian of Zan at the time, paid his respects to him by a present of silks, which Mencius received, not going to acknowledge it. When he was sojourning in P'ing-lû, Ch'û, who was prime minister of the State, sent him a similar present, which he received in the same way.
2. Subsequently, going from Tsâu to Zan, he visited the guardian; but when he went from Ping-lû to the capital of Ch'î, he did not visit the minister Ch'û. The disciple Wû-lû was glad, and said, 'I have got an opportunity to obtain some instruction.'
3. He asked accordingly, 'Master, when you went to Zan, you visited the chief's brother; and when you went to Ch'î, you did not visit Ch'û. Was it not because he is only the minister?'
4. Mencius replied, 'No. It is said in the Book of History, "In presenting an offering to a superior, most depends on the demonstrations of respect. If those demonstrations are not equal to the things offeredred, we say there is no offering, that is, there is no act of the will presenting the offering."
5. 'This is because the things so offered do not constitute an offering to a superior.'
6. Wû-lû was pleased, and when some one asked him what Mencius meant, he said, 'The younger of Zan could not go to Tsâu, but the minister Ch'û might have gone to P'ing-lû.'
How Mencius replied to the insinuations of Shun-yü K'wan, condemning him for leaving office without accomplishing anything.
1. Shun-yü K'wan said, 'He who makes fame and meritorious services his first objects, acts with a regard to others. He who makes them only secondary objects, acts with a regard to himself. You, master, were ranked among the three chief ministers of the State, but before your fame and services had reached either to the prince or the people, you have left your place. Is this indeed the way of the benevolent?'
2. Mencius replied, 'There was Po'î;-- he abode in an inferior situation, and would not, with his virtue, serve a degenerate prince. There was Î Yin;-- he five times went to T'ang, and five times went to Chieh. There was Hûi of Liû-hsiâ;-- he did not disdain to serve a vile prince, nor did he decline a small office. The courses pursued by those three worthies were different, but their aim was one. And what was their one aim? We must answer-- "To be perfectly virtuous." And so it is simply after this that superior men strive. Why must they all pursue the same course?'
3. K'wan pursued, 'In the time of the duke Mû of Lû, the government was in the hands of Kung-î, while Tsze-liû and Tsze-sze were ministers. And yet, the dismemberment of Lû then increased exceedingly. Such was the case, a specimen how your men of virtue are of no advantage to a kingdom!'
4. Mencius said, 'The prince of Yü did not use Pâi-lî Hsi, and thereby lost his State. The duke Mû of Chin used him, and became chief of all the princes. Ruin is the consequence of not employing men of virtue and talents;-- how can it rest with dismemberment merely?'
5. K'wan urged again, 'Formerly, when Wang P'âo dwelt on the Ch'î, the people on the west of the Yellow River all became skilful at singing in his abrupt manner. When Mien Ch'ü lived in Kâo-t'ang, the people in the parts of Ch'î on the west became skilful at singing in his prolonged manner. The wives of Hwa Châu and Ch'î Liang bewailed their husbands so skilfully, that they changed the manners of the State. When there is the gift within, it manifests itself without. I have never seen the man who could do the deeds of a worthy, and did not realize the work of one. Therefore there are now no men of talents and virtue. If there were, I should know them.'
6. Mencius answered, 'When Confucius was chief minister of Justice in Lû, the prince came not to follow his counsels. Soon after there was the solstitial sacrifice, and when a part of the flesh presented in sacrifice was not sent to him, he went away even without taking off his cap of ceremony. Those who did not know him supposed it was on account of the flesh. Those who knew him supposed that it was on account of the neglect of the usual ceremony. The fact was, that Confucius wanted to go away on occasion of some small offence, not wishing to do so without some apparent cause. All men cannot be expected to understand the conduct of a superior man.'