Mencius. Book II: Kung-sun Ch'âu. Part I. Chapter IV.

No summary.

1. Mencius said, 'Benevolence brings glory to a prince, and the opposite of it brings disgrace. For the princes of the present day to hate disgrace and yet to live complacently doing what is not benevolent, is like hating moisture and yet living in a low situation.

2. 'If a prince hates disgrace, the best course for him to pursue, is to esteem virtue and honour virtuous scholars, giving the worthiest among them places of dignity, and the able offices of trust. When throughout his kingdom there is leisure and rest from external troubles, let him, taking advantage of such a season, clearly digest the principles of his government with its legal sanctions, and then even great kingdoms will be constrained to stand in awe of him.

3. 'It is said in the Book of Poetry,

"Before the heavens were dark w1th rain,

I gathered the bark from the roots of the mulberry trees,

And wove it closely to form the window and door of my nest;

Now, I thought, ye people below,

Perhaps ye will not dare to insult me."

Confucius said, "Did not he who made this ode understand the way of governing?" If a prince is able rightly to govern his kingdom, who will dare to insult him?

4. 'But now the princes take advantage of the time when throughout their kingdoms there is leisure and rest from external troubles, to abandon themselves to pleasure and indolent indifference;-- they in fact seek for calamities for themselves.

5. 'Calamity and happiness in all cases are men's own seeking.

6. 'This is illustrated by what is said in the Book of Poetry,--

Be always studious to be in harmony with the ordinances of God,

So you will certainly get for yourself much happiness;"

and by the passage ofthe Tâi Chiah,-- "When Heaven sends down calamities, it is still possible to escape from them; when we occasion the calamities ourselves, it is not possible any longer to live."'

Previous chapter   main Mencius node   Next chapter

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.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.