Puslapio vaizdai

Mencius's name was K'o1. His designation does not appear in his Works, nor is any given to him by Sze-mâ Ch'ien or Châo Ch'i. The latter says that he did not know how he had been styled; but the legends tell that he was called Tsze-chü3, and Tsze-yü'. The same authorities—if we can call them such-say that his father's name was Chi, and that he was styled Kung-1". They say also that his mother's maiden surname was Chang. Nothing is related of the former but that he died when his son was quite young, but the latter must have a paragraph to herself. The mother of Mencius' is famous in China, and held up to the present time as a model of what a mother should be.

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The year of Mencius's birth was probably the fourth of the sovereign Lieh, B.C. 3727. He lived to the age of 84, dying in the year B.C. 289, the 26th of the sovereign Nan3, with whom terminated the long sovereignty of the Châu dynasty. The first twenty-three years of his life thus synchronized with the last twenty-three of Plato's. Aristotle, Zeno, Epicurus, Demosthenes, and other great men of the West, were also his contemporaries. When we place Mencius among them, he can look them in the face. He does not need to hide a diminished head.

3. It was his misfortune, according to Châo Ch'i, 'to lose his father at an early period; but in his youthful years he enjoyed the lessons of his kind mother, who thrice changed her residence on his account.'

Mencius's mother.

necessary. Lû had been for several generations the State of his family, and on that account he might wish to inter his parent there, according to the custom of the Châu dynasty (see the Lî Chî, Bk. II. Sect. I. i. 27). The way in which Tsâu always appears as the residence of Mencius, when he is what we should say 'at home,' appears to me decisive of the question,

though neither of the disputants presses it into his service. Compare Bk. III. Pt. I. ii ;

Bk. VI. Pt. II. i and v. The point is really of no importance, for the States of Tsâu and Lû adjoined. “The rattle of the watchman in the one was heard in the other.'


軻‘子車 and 子居, the one character taking the place of the other from the similarity of the sound... 激‘公宜. I find 宜 sometimes instead of 宜.‘仉氏.’烈王,四年,已酉."赧王二十六

,.-The 'Genealogical Register of the Măng Family' says that Mencius was born

in the year, the 37th of the sovereign Ting(), on the and day of the 4th month, and died in the year, the 26th of the sovereign Nan, on the 15th day of the 1st

month. (See A, ZF, art. III.) The last of these dates is to be

embraced on many grounds, but the first is evidently a mistake. Ting only reigned 28 years, and there is no year among them. Reckoning back 84 years from the 26th of Nan, year, the 4th of Lieh, which is now generally acquiesced in as the year • Ch'i's words are-. The legend-writers are more

we come to a

of Mencius's birth.

At first they lived near a cemetery, and Mencius amused himself with acting the various scenes which he witnessed at the tombs. 'This,' said the lady, 'is no place for my son;'-and she removed to a house in the market-place. But the change was no improvement. The boy took to playing the part of a salesman, vaunting his wares, and chaffering with customers. His mother sought a new house, and found one at last close by a public school. There her child's attention was taken with the various exercises of politeness which the scholars were taught, and he endeavoured to imitate them. The mother was satisfied. This,' she said, 'is the proper place for my son.'

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Han Ying relates another story of this period. Near their house was a pig-butcher's. One day Mencius asked his mother what they were killing the pigs for, and was told that it was to feed him. Her conscience immediately reproved her for the answer. She said to herself, 'While I was carrying this boy in my womb, I would not sit down if the mat was not placed square, and I ate no meat which was not cut properly;-so I taught him when he was yet unborn!. And now when his intelligence is opening, I am deceiving him ;—this is to teach him untruthfulness!' With this she went and bought a piece of pork in order to make good her words.

As Mencius grew up, he was sent to school. When he returned home one day, his mother looked up from the web which she was weaving, and asked him how far he had got on. He answered her with an air of indifference that he was doing well enough, on which she took a knife and cut through the thread of her shuttle. The idler was alarmed, and asked what she meant, when she gave him a long lecture, showing that she had done what he was doing,-that her cutting through her thread was like his neglecting his learning. The admonition, it is said, had its proper effect; the lecture did not need to be repeated.

There are two other narratives in which Chang-shih figures, and though they belong to a later part of Mencius's life, it may be as well to embrace them in the present paragraph.

His wife was squatting down one day in her own room, when precise, and say that Mencius was only three years old when his father died. This statement, and Ch'i's as well, are difficult to reconcile with what we read in Bk. I. Pt. II. xvi, about the style in which Mencius buried his parents. If we accept the legend, we are reduced there to great straits.

See Chú Hat'sĦIK —, which begins with the educational

duties of the mother, while the child is yet unborn.

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Mencius went in. He was so much offended at finding her in that position, that he told his mother, and expressed his intention to put her away, because of 'her want of propriety.' 'It is you who have no propriety,' said his mother, and not your wife. Do not "The Rules of Propriety" say, "When you are about to ascend a hall, raise your voice; when you enter a door, keep your eyes low?" The reason of the rules is that people may not be taken unprepared; but you entered the door of your private apartment without raising your voice, and so caused your wife to be caught squatting on the ground The impropriety is with you and not with her.' On this Mencius fell to reproving himself, and did not dare to put away his wife.

One day, when he was living with his mother in Ch'i, she was struck with the sorrowfulness of his aspect as he stood leaning against a pillar, and asked him the cause of it. He replied, 'I have heard that the superior man occupies the place for which he is adapted, accepting no reward to which he does not feel entitled, and not covetous of honour and emolument. Now my doctrines are not practised in Ch'i:-I wish to leave it, but I think of your old age, and am anxious.' His mother said, 'It does not belong to a woman to determine anything of herself, but she is subject to the rule of the three obediences. When young, she has to obey her parents; when married, she has to obey her husband; when a widow, she has to obey her son. You are a man in your full maturity, and I am old. Do you act as your conviction of righteousness tells you you ought to do, and I will act according to the rule which belongs to me. Why should you be anxious about me?'

Such are the accounts which I have found of the mother of Mencius. Possibly some of them are inventions, but they are devoutly believed by the people of China;—and it must be to their profit. We may well believe that she was a woman of very superior character, and that her son's subsequent distinction was in a great degree owing to her influence and training'.

4. From parents we advance to be under tutors and governors. The moulding hand that has wrought upon us in the pliant years of youth always leaves ineffaceable traces upon the character. Can anything be ascertained of the in

Mencius's instructors; and early life.

structor or instructors of Mencius? The reply to

this inquiry must be substantially in the negative, though many

All these stories are given in the notes to the preface to Mencius in the


have affirmed that he sat as a pupil at the feet of Tsze-sze, the grandson of Confucius. We are told this by Chao Ch'i, whose words are:-'As he grew up, he studied under Tsze-sze, acquired all the knowledge taught by "The Learned," and became thoroughly acquainted with "The Five Ching," being more especially distinguished for his mastery of the Shih and the Sha1. A reference to dates, however, shows that this must be incorrect. From the death of Confucius to the birth of Mencius there were 108 years, and supposing—what is by no means probable-that Tsze-sze was born in the year his father died, he must have been 112 years old when Mencius was born. The supposition of their having stood to each other in the relation of master and scholar is inconsistent, moreover, with the style in which Mencius refers to Tsze-sze. He mentions him six or seven times, showing an intimate acquaintance with his history, but never once in a manner which indicates that he had personal intercourse with him 2.

Sze-mâ Ch'ien's account is that Mencius studied under the disciples of. Tsze-sze3.' This may have been the case. There is nothing on the score of time to make it impossible, or even improbable; but this is all that can be said about it. No famous names out of the school of Taze-sze have been transmitted to posterity, and Mencius nowhere speaks as if he felt under special obligation to any in


One short sentence contains all that he has said bearing on the point before us:-'Although I could not be a disciple of Confucius myself, I have endeavoured to cultivate my character and knowledge by means of others who were.' The chapter to which this belongs is rather enigmatical. The other member of it says:-'The influence of a sovereign sage terminates with the fifth generation. The influence of an unsceptred sage does the same.' By 'an unsceptred sage' Mencius is understood to mean Confucius; and by extending his influence all over five generations, he shows how it was possible for him to place himself under it by means of others who had been in direct communication with the Master.

We must leave the subject of Mencius's early instructors in the obscurity which rests upon it. The first forty years of his life are

長師孔子之孫子思,治儒術之道,通五經,尤長於 受業子思之門人.


* See the Index of Proper Names.

* See Book IV. Pt. II. xxii.

little more than a blank to us. Many of them, we may be sure, were spent in diligent study. He made himself familiar during them with all the literature of his country. Its classics, its histories, its great men, had received his careful attention. Confucius especially became to him the chief of mortal men, the object of his untiring admiration; and in his principles and doctrines he recognised the truth for want of an appreciation of which the bonds of society all round him were being relaxed, and the kingdom hastening to a general anarchy.


How he supported himself in Tsâu, we cannot tell. Perhaps he was possessed of some patrimony; but when he first comes forth from his native State, we find him accompanied by his most eminent disciples. He probably imitated Confucius by assuming the office of a teacher, not that of a schoolmaster in our acceptation of the word, but that of a professor of morals and learning, encouraging the resort of inquiring minds, in order to resolve their doubts and inform them on the true principles of virtue and society. These disciples would minister to his wants, though we may presume that he sternly maintained his dignity among them, as he afterwards did towards the princes of the time, when he appeared among them as a lecturer in another sense of the terin. Two instances of this are recorded, though we cannot be sure that they belonged to the earlier period of his life.

'When Kăng of T'ăng made his appearance in your school, said the disciple Kung-tû, 'it seemed proper that a polite consideration should be paid to him, and yet you did not answer him-why was that?' Mencius replied, 'I do not answer him who questions me presuming on his ability, nor him who presumes on his talents, nor him who presumes on his age, nor him who presumes on services performed to me, nor him who presumes on old acquaintance. Two of those things were chargeable on Kăng of Tăng.

The other instance is that of Chiâo of Ts'âo, who said to Mencius, 'I shall be having an interview with the prince of Tsâu, and can ask him to let me have a house to lodge in. I wish to remain here, and receive instruction at your gate.' 'The way of truth,' replied the philosopher, 'is like a great road. It is not difficult to know

it. The evil is only that men will not seek it. Do you go home

1 See Bk. VII. Pt. I. xliii.

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