The Works of Mencius

Book 6, Part 2 (cont.): Kâo Tsze


Chapter 10.

An ordained State can only subsist with a proper system of taxation, and that originating with Yâo and Shun is the proper one for China.

1. Pâi Kwei said, 'I want to take a twentieth of the produce only as the tax. What do you think of it?'

2. Mencius said, 'Your way would be that of the Mo.

3. 'In a country of ten thousand families, would it do to have only one potter?' Kwei replied, 'No. The vessels would not be enough to use.'

4. Mencius went on, 'In Mo all the five kinds of grain are not grown; it only produces the millet. There are no fortified cities, no edifices, no ancestral temples, no ceremonies of sacrifice; there are no princes requiring presents and entertainments; there is no system of officers with their various subordinates. On these accounts a tax of one-twentieth of the produce is sufficient there.

5. 'But now it is the Middle Kingdom that we live in. To banish the relationships of men, and have no superior men;-- how can such a state of things be thought of?

6. 'With but few potters a kingdom cannot subsist;-- how much less can it subsist without men of a higher rank than others?

7. 'If we wish to make the taxation lighter than the system of Yâo and Shun, we shall just have a great Mo and a small Mo. If we wish to make it heavier, we shall just have the great Chieh and the small Chieh.'

Chapter 11.

Pâi Kwei's presumptuous idea that he could regulate the waters better than Yü did.

1. Pâi Kwei said, 'My management of the waters is superior to that of Yü.'

2. Mencius replied, 'You are wrong, Sir. Yü's regulation of the waters was according to the laws of water.

3. 'He therefore made the four seas their receptacle, while you make the neighbouring States their receptacle.

4. 'Water flowing out of its channels is called an inundation. Inundating waters are a vast waste of water, and what a benevolent man detests. You are wrong, my good Sir.'

Chapter 12.

Faith in principles necessary to firmness in action.

Mencius said, 'If a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a firm hold of things?'

Chapter 13.

Of what importance to a minister-- to government-- it is to love what is good.

1. The prince of Lû wanting to commit the administration of his government to the disciple Yo-chang, Mencius said, 'When I heard of it, I was so glad that I could not sleep.'

2. Kung-sun Ch'âu asked, 'Is Yo-chang a man of vigour?' and was answered, 'No.' 'Is he wise in council?' 'No.' 'Is he possessed of much information?' 'No.'

3. 'What then made you so glad that you could not sleep?'

4. 'He is a man who loves what is good.'

5. 'Is the love of what is good sufficient?'

6. 'The love of what is good is more than a sufficient qualification for the government of the kingdom;-- how much more is it so for the State of Lû!

7. 'If a minister love what is good, all within the four seas will count 1000 lî but a small distance, and will come and lay their good thoughts before him.

8. If he do not love what is good, men will say, "How self-conceited he looks? He is sayinq to himself, I know it." The language and looks of that self-conceit will keep men off at a distance of 1,000 lî. When good men stop 1,000 lî off, calumniators, flatterers, and sycophants will make their appearance. When a minister lives among calumniators, flatterers, and sycophants, though he may wish the State to be well governed, is it possible for it to be so?'

Chapter 14.

Grounds of taking and leaving office.

1. The disciple Ch'an said, 'What were the principles on which superior men of old took office?' Mencius replied, 'There were three cases in which they accepted office, and three in which they left it.

2. 'If received with the utmost respect and all polite observances, and they could say to themselves that the prince would carry their words into practice, then they took office with him. Afterwards, although there might be no remission in the polite demeanour of the prince, if their words were not carried into practice, they would leave him.

3. 'The second case was that in which, though the prince could not be expected at once to carry their words into practice, yet being received by him with the utmost respect, they took office with him. But afterwards, if there was a remission in his polite demeanour, they would leave him.

4. 'The last case was that of the superior man who had nothing to eat, either morning or evening, and was so famished that he could not move out of his door. If the prince, on hearing of his state, said, "I must fail in the great point,-- that of carrying his doctrines into practice, neither am I able to follow his words, but I am ashamed to allow him to die of want in my country;" the assistance offered in such a case might be received, but not beyond what was sufficient to avert death.'

Chapter 15.

Trials and hardships the way in which Heaven prepares men for great services.

1. Mencius said, 'Shun rose from among the channelled fields. Fû Yüeh was called to office from the midst of his building frames; Chiâo-ko from his fish and salt; Kwan Î-wû from the hands of his gaoler; Sun-shû Âo from his hiding by the sea-shore; and Pâi-lî Hsî from the market-place.

2. 'Thus, when Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it stimulates his mind, hardens his nature, and supplies his incompetencies.

3. 'Men for the most part err, and are afterwards able to reform. They are distressed in mind and perplexed in their thoughts, and then they arise to vigorous reformation. When things have been evidenced in men's looks, and set forth in their words, then they understand them.

4. 'If a prince have not about his court families attached to the laws and worthy counsellors, and if abroad there are not hostile States or other external calamities, his kingdom will generally come to ruin.

5. 'From these things we see how life springs from sorrow and calamity, and death from ease and pleasure.'

Chapter 16.

How a refusal to teach may be teaching.

Mencius said, 'There are many arts in teaching. I refuse, as inconsistent with my character, to teach a man, but I am only thereby still teaching him.'