Mencius. Book I: King HÛi of Liang. Part II. Chapter XVI.

Legge's summary: A man's way in life is ordered by heaven. The instrumentality of other men is only subordinate.

1. The duke P'ing of Lû was about to leave his palace, when his favourite, one Tsang Ts'ang, made a request to him, saying, 'On other days, when you have gone out, you have given instructions to the officers as to where you were going. But now, the horses have been put to the carriage, and the officers do not yet know where you are going. I venture to ask.' The duke said, 'I am going to see the scholar Mang.' ' How is this?' said the other. 'That you demean yourself, prince, in paying the honour of the first visit to a common man, is, I suppose, because you think that he is a man of talents and virtue. By such men the rules of ceremonial proprieties and right are observed. But on the occasion of this Mang's second mourning, his observances exceeded those of the former. Do not go to see him, my prince.' The duke said, 'I will not.'

2. The officer Yo-chang entered the court, and had an audience. He said, 'Prince, why have you not gone to see Mang K'o?' the duke said, 'One told me that, on the occasion of the scholar Mang's second mourning, his observances exceeded those of the former. It is on that account that I have not gone to see him.' 'How is this!' answered Yo-chang. 'By what you call "exceeding," you mean, I suppose, that, on the first occasion, he used the rites appropriate to a scholar, and, on the second, those appropriate to a great officer; that he first used three tripods, and afterwards five tripods.' The duke said, 'No; I refer to the greater excellence of the coffin, the shell, the grave-clothes, and the shroud.' Yo-chAng said, 'That cannot be called "exceeding." That was the difference between being poor and being rich.'

3. After this, Yo-chang saw Mencius, and said to him, 'I told the prince about you, and he was consequently coming to see you, when one of his favourites, named Tsang Ts'ang, stopped him, and therefore he did not come according to his purpose.' Mencius said, 'A man's advancement is effected, it may be, by others, and the stopping him is, it may be, from the efforts of others. But to advance a man or to stop his advance is really beyond the power of other men. My not finding in the prince of Lû a ruler who would confide in me, and put my counsels into practice, is from Heaven. How could that scion of the Tsang family cause me not to find the ruler that would suit me?'


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Translated by James Legge, published in 1861 and revised for publication in 1895. Prepared as etext by Stephen R. McIntyre. Noded by schist. Please msg schist if you have suggestions for useful hard-links.

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