Puslapio vaizdai

to his general rule' for the conduct of ministers who are not relatives, he allows that even they may, under certain conditions, take summary measures with their sovereign. His disciple Kung-sun Châu said to him, 'Î Yin said, "I cannot be near and see him so disobedient to reason," and therewith he banished T'âi-chiâ to T'ung. The people were much pleased. When T'âi-chiâ became virtuous, he brought him back, and the people were again much pleased. When worthies are ministers, may they indeed banish their sovereigns in this way when they are not virtuous?' Mencius replied, 'If they have the same purpose as ↑ Yin, they may. If they have


the same purpose, it would be usurpation". His grand device, however, is what he calls the minister of Heaven.' When the sovereign has become worthless and useless, his hope is that Heaven will raise up some one for the help of the people ;—some one who shall so occupy in his original subordinate position as to draw all eyes and hearts to himself. Let him then raise the standard, not of rebellion, but of righteousness, and he cannot help attaining to the highest dignity. So it was with the great Tang; so it was with the kings Wăn and Wû. Of the last Mencius says:—'There was one man'-i.e. the tyrant Châu--'pursuing a violent and disorderly course in the kingdom, and king Wû was ashamed of it. By one display of his anger, he gave repose to all the people.' He would have been glad if any one of the princes of his own time had been able to vault in a similar way to the sovereign throne, and he went about counselling them to the attempt. Let your Majesty,' said he to king Hsuan, 'in like manner, by one burst of anger, give repose to all the people of the nation.' This was in fact advising to rebellion, but the philosopher would have recked little of such a charge. The house of Châu had forfeited in his view its title to the kingdom. Alas! among all the princes he had to do with, he did not find one who could be stirred to so honourable an action.

We need not wonder that Mencius, putting forth the above views so boldly and broadly, should not be a favourite with the rulers of China. His sentiments, professed by the literati, and known and read by all the people, have operated powerfully to compel the good behaviour of the powers that be.' It may be said that they encourage the aims of selfish ambition, and the lawlessness of the

1 Bk. V. Pt. II. ix. I. 2 Bk. VII. Pt. I. xxxi.


'a raising of righteous soldiers;'-this is what all rebel leaders in China profess to do. Bk. I. Pt. II. iii. 7.

Bk. II. Pt. I. v. 6. 4

licentious mob. I grant it. They are lessons for the virtuous, and not for the lawless and disobedient, but the government of China would have been more of a grinding despotism, if it had not been for them.

On the readiness of the people to be governed Mencius only differs from Confucius in the more vehement style in which he expresses his views. his views. He does not dwell so much on the influence of personal virtue, and I pointed out, in the sketch of his Life, how he all but compromised his character in his communications with king Hsuan, telling him that his love of women, of war, and of wealth might be so regulated as not to interfere with his exercise of true royal government. Still he speaks at times correctly and emphatically on this subject. He quotes Confucius's language on the influence generally of superiors on inferiors, -that the relation between them is like that between the wind and grass; the grass must bend when the wind blows upon it1,' and he says himself:-'It is not enough to remonstrate with a sovereign on account of the mal-employment of ministers, nor to blame errors of government. It is only the great man who can rectify what is wrong in the sovereign's mind. Let the prince be benevolent, and all his acts will be benevolent. Let the prince be righteous, and all his acts will be righteous. Let the prince be correct, and all his acts will be correct. Once rectify the prince, and the kingdom will be firmly settled ".'

The influence of personal character in a ruler.

But the misery which he saw around him, in consequence of the prevailing anarchy and constant wars between State and State, led Mencius to insist on the necessity of what he called vernment, and its a benevolent government.' The king Hsiang asked him, 'Who can unite the kingdom under one sway?'

Benevolent go

and his reply was, 'He who has no pleasure in killing men can so 'unite it.' His being so possessed with the sad condition of his time likewise gave occasion, we may suppose, to the utterance of another sentiment sufficiently remarkable. 'Never,' said he, 'has he who would by his excellence subdue men been able to subdue them. Let a prince seek by his excellence to nourish men, and he will be able to subdue the whole kingdom. It is impossible that any one should become ruler of the kingdom to whom it has not yielded the subjection of the heart. The highest style of excellence will of course

1 Bk. III. Pt. I. ii. 4.

Bk. IV. Pt. I. xx. 3 Bk. I. Pt. I. vi.


Bk. IV. Pt. II. xvi.

have its outgoings in benevolence. Apart from that, it will be powerless, as Mencius says. His words are akin to those of Paul : -Scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.'

On the effects of a benevolent rule he says:-Chieh and Châu's losing the throne arose from their losing the people; and to lose the people means to lose their hearts. There is a way to get the throne: -get the people, and the throne is got. There is a way to get the people:-get their hearts, and the people are got. There is a way to get their hearts:-it is simply to collect for them what they like, and not to lay on them what they dislike. The people turn to a benevolent rule as water flows downwards, and as wild beasts fly to the wilderness. As the otter aids the deep waters, driving the fish into them, and as the hawk aids the thickets, driving the little birds to them, so Chieh and Châu aided Tang and Wû, driving the people to them. If among the present sovereigns of the kingdom there were one who loved benevolence, all the other princes would aid him by driving the people to him. Although he wished not to become sovereign, he could not avoid becoming so '.'

Two principal elements of this benevolent rule, much insisted on by Mencius, deserve to be made prominent. They are to be found indicated in the Analects, and in the older To make the peo- Classics also, but it was reserved for our philosopher to educate them, to set them forth, sharply defined in his own style,

ple prosperous, and

are important ele

ments in a benevo- and to show the connexion between them. They

lent rule.

are--that the people be made well off, and that they be educated; and the former is necessary in order to the efficiency of the other.

Once, when Confucius was passing through Wei in company with Yen Yû, he was struck with the populousness of the State. The disciple said, 'Since the people are thus numerous, what more shall be done for them?' Confucius answered, Enrich them.' 'And when they have been enriched, what more shall be done for them?' The reply was-Teach them.' This brief conversation contains the germs of the ideas on which Mencius delighted to dwell.


We read in one place: Let it be seen to that their fields of grain and hemp are well cultivated, and make the taxes on them light:so the people may be made rich.

[blocks in formation]

'Let it be seen to that they use their resources of food seasonably, and expend their wealth only on the prescribed ceremonies:-so their wealth will be more than can be consumed.

'The people cannot live without water and fire; yet if you knock at a man's door in the dusk of the evening, and ask for water and fire, there is no man who will not give them, such is the abundance of these things. A sage governs the kingdom so as to cause pulse and grain to be as abundant as water and fire. When pulse and grain are as abundant as water and fire, how shall the people be other than virtuous1?'

Again he says:-In good years the youth of a country are most of them good, while in bad years they abandon themselves to evil?.'

It is in his conversations, however, with king Hsüan of Ch'i and duke Wăn of Tăng, that we find the fullest exposition of the points in hand. 'It is only scholars'-officers, men of a superior order'who, without a certain livelihood, are able to maintain a fixed heart. As to the people, if they have not a certain livelihood, it follows that they will not have a fixed heart. And if they have not a fixed heart, there is nothing which they will not do in the way of self-abandonment, of moral deflection, of depravity, and of wild license. When they have thus been involved in crime, to follow them up and punish them :-this is to entrap the people. Therefore an intelligent ruler will regulate the livelihood of the people, so as to make sure that, above, they shall have sufficient wherewith to serve their parents, and, below, sufficient wherewith to support their wives and children; that in good years they shall always be abundantly satisfied, and that in bad years they shall escape the danger of perishing. After this he may urge them, and they will proceed to what is good, for in this case the people will follow after that with ease 3.

It is not necessary to remark here on the measures which Mencius recommends in order to secure a certain livelihood for the people. They embrace the regulation both of agriculture and commerce*. And education would be directed simply to illustrate the human relations". What he says on these subjects is not without shrewdness, though many of his recommendations are inappropriate to the present state of society in China itself as well as in other countries. But his principle, that good government should contemplate, and

iii. 3

1 Bk.VII. Pt. I. xxiii.

Bk. VI. Pt. I. vii. 3 Bk. I. Pt. I. vii. 20, 21; Bk. III. Pt. I. 'Bk. III. Pt. I. iii ; Bk. I. Pt. II. iv ; Bk. II. Pt. I. v, et al. 5 Bk. III. Pt. I. iii. 10. VOL. II.


will be seen in, the material wellbeing of the people, is worthy of all honour. Whether government should interfere to secure the education of the people is questioned by not a few. The religious denomination to which I have the honour to belong has distinguished itself by opposing such a doctrine in England,-more zealously perhaps than wisely. But when Mencius teaches that with the mass of men education will have little success where the life is embittered by a miserable poverty, he shows himself well acquainted with human nature. Educationists now seem generally to recognise it, but I think it is only within a century that it has assumed in Europe the definiteness and importance with which it appeared to Mencius here in China two thousand years ago.

We saw how Mencius, when he was residing in Tăng, came into contact with a class of enthusiasts, who advocated a return to the primitive state of society,

'When Adam delved and Eve span.'

Necessity for a

and that govern


They said that wise and able princes should cultivate the ground equally and along with their people, and eat the fruit of their labour, -that 'to have granaries, arsenals, and treasuries was division of labour, an oppressing of the people.' Mencius exposed these ment be conducted errors very happily, showing the necessity to society by a lettered class. of a division of labour, and that the conduct of government should be in the hands of a lettered class. 'I suppose,' he said to a follower of the strange doctrines, that Hsü Hsing sows grain and eats the produce. Is it not so?' 'It is so,' was the answer. 'I suppose that he also weaves cloth, and wears his own manufacture. Is it not so?' 'No; Hsü wears clothes of hair-cloth.' 'Does he wear a cap?' He wears a cap.' 'What kind of cap?' 'A plain cap.' 'Is it woven by himself?' 'No; he gets it in exchange for grain.' 'Why does Hsü not weave it himself?' "That would injure his husbandry.' 'Does Hsü cook his food in boilers and earthenware pans, and does he plough with an iron share?' 'Yes.' 'Does he make those articles himself?' 'No; he gets them in exchange for grain.' On these admissions Mencius proceeds: The getting those various articles in exchange for grain is not oppressive to the potter and the founder, and the potter and the founder in their turn, in exchanging their various articles for grain, are not oppressive to the husbandman. How should such a thing be supposed? But why does not Hsü, on his principles,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »