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

Legge's summary: How a ruler must not indulge his love for parks and hunting to the discomfort of his people.

1. The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, 'Was it so, that the park of king Wan contained seventy square lî?' Mencius replied, 'It is so in the records.'

2. 'Was it so large as that?' exclaimed the king. 'The people,' said Mencius, 'still looked on it as small.' The king added, 'My park contains only forty square lî, and the people still look on it as large. How is this?' 'The park of king Wan,' was the reply, 'contained seventy square lî, but the grass-cutters and fuel-gatherers had the privilege of entrance into it; so also had the catchers of pheasants and hares. He shared it with the people, and was it not with reason that they looked on it as small?

3. 'When I first arrived at the borders of your kingdom, I inquired about the great prohibitory regulations, before I would venture to enter it; and I heard, that inside the barrier-gates there was a park of forty square lî, and that he who killed a deer in it, was held guilty of the same crime as if he had killed a man.-- Thus those forty square lî are a pitfall in the middle of the kingdom. Is it not with reason that the people look upon them as large?'


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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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