Puslapio vaizdai


his plough upon his shoulder, followed by scores of followers, all wearing the coarsest clothes, and supporting themselves by making mats and sandals. It was one of his maxims that 'the magistrates should be labouring-men.' He would have the sovereign grow his own rice, and cook his own meals. Not a few of The Learned' were led away by his doctrines, but Mencius girt up his loins to oppose the heresy, and ably vindicated the propriety of a division of labour, and of a lettered class conducting the government. It is just possible that the appearance of Hsü Hsing, and the countenance shown to him, may have had something to do with Mencius's leaving the State.

8. Liang was another name for Wei, one of the States into which Tsin had been divided. King Hai, early in his reign, B. C. 364, had made the city of Ta-liang, in the present department of K'âi-făng, his capital, and given its name to his whole principality. It was the year before his death, when Mencius visited him1. A long, stormy, and disastrous rule was about to terminate, but the king was as full of activity and warlike enterprise as ever he had been. At his first interview with Mencius, he addressed him in the well-known words, Venerable Sir, since you have not counted it far to come here, a distance of a thousand l, may I presume that you are likewise provided with counsels to profit my kingdom?' Mencius in reply starts from the word profit, and expatiates eloquently on the evil consequences that must ensue from making a regard to profit the ground of conduct or the rule of policy. As for himself, his theme must be benevolence and righteousness. On these he would discourse, but on nothing else, and in following them a prince would obtain true and sure advantages.

Mencius in Liang; -B. C. 319, 318.

Only five conversations are related between king Hui and the philosopher. They are all in the spirit of the first which has just been described, and of those which he had with king Hsuan of Ch'î.

1 There are various difficulties about the reign of king Hûi of Liang. Sze-mâ Ch'ien

makes it commence in 369 and terminate in 334. He is then succeeded by Hsiang (), whose reign ends in 318; and he is followed by Ai () till 295. What are called 'The Bamboo Books() extend Hûi's reign to B.C. 318, and the next twenty years are assigned to king Âi. "The Annals of the Nation' (which are compiled from 'The General Mirror of History']) follow the Bamboo Books in the length of king Hûi's reign, but make him followed by Hsiang; and take no note of a king Âi.--From Mencius we may be assured that Hûi was succeeded by Hsiang, and the view of his Life, which I have followed in this sketch, leads to the longer period assigned to his reign.

There is the same freedom of expostulation, or, rather, boldness of reproof, and the same unhesitating assurance of the success that would follow the adoption of his principles. The most remarkable is the third, where we have a sounder doctrine than where he tells king Hsuan that his love of beauty and money and valour need not interfere with his administration of royal government. Hui is boasting of his diligence in the government of his State, and sympathy with the sufferings of his people, as far beyond those of any of the neighbouring rulers, and wondering how he was not more prosperous than they. Mencius replies, 'Your Majesty is fond of war;-let me take an illustration from it. The drums sound, and the weapons are crossed, when suddenly the soldiers on one side throw away their coats of mail, trail their weapons behind them, and run. Some of them run a hundred paces, and some run only fifty. What would you think if those who run fifty paces were to laugh at those who run a hundred paces?' 'They may not do so,' said the king; they only did not run a hundred paces, but they also ran.' 'Since your Majesty knows this,' was the reply, 'you need not hope that your people will become more numerous than those of the neighbouring kingdoms.' The king was thus taught that half-measures would not do. Royal government, to be effectual, must be carried out faithfully and in its spirit.


King Hûi died in B.C. 319, and was succeeded by his son, the king Hsiang. Mencius appears to have had but one interview with him. When he came out from it, he observed to some of his friends: -When I looked at him from a distance, he did not appear like a sovereign; when I drew near to him, I saw nothing venerable about him '.'

It was of no use to remain any longer in Liang; he left it, and we meet with him again in Ch'i.

Mencius the second time in Ch'i;-to B.C. 311.

9. Whether he returned immediately to Ch'î we cannot tell, but the probability is that he did, and remained in it till the year B.C. 3112. When he left it about seven years before, he had made provision for his return in case of a change of mind in king Hsuan. The philosopher, I

1 Bk. I. Pt. I. vi. › This conclusion is adopted because it was in 311 that Yen rebelled, when the king said that he was very much ashamed when he thought of Mencius, who had strongly condemned his policy towards the State of Yen.-This is another case in which the chronology is differently laid down by the authorities, Sze-mâ Ch'ien saying that Yen was

taken by king Min (E), the son and successor of Hsüan.

apprehend, was content with an insufficient assurance of such an alteration. Be that as it may, he went back, and took an appointment again as a high noble.

If he was contented with a smaller reformation on the part of the king than he must have desired, Mencius was not himself different from what he had been. In the court and among the high officers his deportment was equally unbending; he was the same stern


Among the officers was one Wang Hwan, called also Tsze-âo, a favourite with the king, insolent and presuming. Him Mencius treated with an indifference and even contempt which must have been very provoking. A large party were met one time at the house of an officer who had lost a son, for the purpose of expressing their condolences. Mencius was among them, when suddenly Wang Hwan made his appearance. One and another moved to do him honour and win from him a smile,-all indeed but Mencius, who paid no regard to him. The other complained of the rudeness, but the philosopher could show that his conduct was only in accordance with the rules of Propriety 1.

Another time, Mencius was sent as the chief of a mission of condolence to the court of Tăng, Wang Hwan being the assistant commissioner. Every morning and evening he waited upon Mencius, who never once exchanged a word with him on the business of their mission".

Now and then he became the object of unpleasant remark and censure. At his instigation, an officer, Ch'i Wa, remonstrated with the king on some abuse, and had in consequence to resign his office. The people were not pleased with Mencius, thus advising others to their harm, and yet continuing to retain his own position undisturbed. In the course which he marked out for Ch'i W&,' they said, 'he did well, but we do not know as to the course which he pursues for himself. The philosopher, however, was never at a loss in rendering a reason. He declared that, as his office was honorary, he could act 'freely and without restraint either in going forward or retiring. In this matter we have more sympathy with the condemnation than with the defence.

Some time during these years there occurred the death of Mencius's excellent mother. She had been with him in Ch'i, and

1 Bk. IV. Pt. II. xxvii. VOL. II.

2 Bk. II. Pt. II. vi.


Bk. II. Pt. II. v.

he carried the coffin to Lu, to bury it near the dust of his father and ancestors. The funeral was a splendid one. Mencius perhaps erred in having it so from his dislike to the Mohists, who advocated a spare simplicity in all funeral matters1. His arrangements certainly excited the astonishment of some of his own disciples, and were the occasion of general remark. He defended himself on the ground that the superior man will not for all the world be niggardly to his parents,' and that, as he had the means, there was no reason why he should not give all the expression in his power to his natural feelings.

Having paid this last tribute of filial duty, Mencius returned to Ch'î, but he could not appear at court till the three years of his mourning were accomplished. It could not be long after this when trouble and confusion arose in Yen, a large State to the north-west of Ch'i, in the present Chih-lf. Its prince, who was a poor weakling, wished to go through the sham of resigning his throne to his prime minister, understanding that he would decline it, and that thus he would have the credit of playing the part of the ancient Yâo, while at the same time he retained his kingdom. The minister, however, accepted the tender, and, as he proved a tyrannical ruler, great dissatisfaction arose. Chăn Tung, an officer of Ch't, asked Mencius whether Yen might be smitten. He replied that it might, for its prince had no right to resign it to his minister, and the minister no right to receive it. Suppose,' said he, 'there were an officer here with whom you were pleased, and that, without informing the king, you were privately to give him your salary and rank; and suppose that this officer, also without the king's orders, were privately to receive them from you:—would such a transaction be allowable? And where is the difference between the case of Yen and this"?'



Whether these sentiments were reported to king Hsuan or not, he proceeded to attack Yen, and found it an easy prey. Mencius was charged with having advised the measure, but he ingeniously repudiated the accusation. 'I answered Ch'ăn Tung that Yen might be smitten. If he had asked me-"Who may smite it?" I would have answered him-"He who is the minister of Heaven may smite it." Suppose the case of a murderer, and that one asks me-" May this man be put to death?" I will answer him-"He may." If he

Bk. II. Pt. II. vii.

3 Bk. I. Pt. II. xvi.

• Some are

1 Ek. III. Pt. I. v. 2. of opinion that Mencius stopped all the period of mourning in Lû, but the more natural conclusion, Bk. II. Pt. II. vii. 1, seems to me that he returned to Ch'î, and stayed at Ying, without going to court. 5 Bk. II. Pt. II. viii.

ask me "Who may put him to death?" I will answer him-"The chief criminal judge may put him to death." But now with one Yen to smite another Yen :-how should I have advised this?' This reference to 'The minister of Heaven' strikingly illustrates what was said about the state of China in Mencius's time. He tells us in one place that hostile States do not correct one another, and that only the supreme authority can punish its subjects by force of arms1. But there was now no supreme authority in China. He saw in the sovereign but the shadow of an empty name.' His conception of a minister of Heaven was not unworthy. He was one who, by the distinction which he gave to talents and virtue, and by his encouragement of agriculture and commerce, attracted all people to him as a parent. He would have no enemy under heaven, and could not help attaining to the royal dignity.


King Hsuan, after conquering and appropriating Yen, tried to get Mencius's sanction of the proceeding, alleging the ease and rapidity with which he had effected the conquest as an evidence of the favour of Heaver. But the philosopher was true to himself. The people of Yen, he said, had submitted, because they expected to find in the king a deliverer from the evils under which they groaned. If they were pleased, he might retain the State, but if he tried to keep it by force, there would simply be another revolution3.

The king's love of power prevailed. He determined to keep his prey, and ere long a combination was formed among the neighbouring princes to wrest Yen from him. Full of alarm he again consulted Mencius, but got no comfort from him. Let him restore his captives and spoils, consult with the people of Yen, and appoint them a ruler ;-so he might be able to avert the threatened attack.'

The result was as Mencius had predicted. The people of Yen rebelled. The king felt ashamed before the philosopher, whose second residence in Ch'i was thus brought to an unpleasant termination.

1 Bk. VIL. Pt. II. ii. 'See Bk. III. Pt. II. v. vi.

10. We do not know that Mencius visited any of the princes after this. On leaving Ch't, he took his way again to Sung, the duke of Mencius in La; which had taken the title of king in B.C. 318. A report also had gone abroad that he was setting about to practise the true royal government, but Mencius soon satisfied himself of its incorrectness".

8.0. 309.

The last court at which we find him is that of Lu, B. c. 309. The

Bk. I. Pt. II. xi.

2 Bk. II. Pt. I. v.

Bk. I. Pt. II. x.

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