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

Legge's summary: How Mencius beat down the attempt to argue in excuse of errors and misconduct.

1. The people of Yen having rebelled, the king of Ch'î said, 'I feel very much ashamed when I think of Mencius.'

2. Ch'an Chiâ said to him, 'Let not your Majesty be grieved. Whether does your Majesty consider yourself or Châu-kung the more benevolent and wise?' The king replied, 'Oh! what words are those?' 'The duke of Châu,' said Chiâ, 'appointed Kwan-shû to oversee the heir of Yin, but Kwan-shû with the power of the Yin State rebelled. If knowing that this would happen he appointed Kwan-shû, he was deficient in benevolence. If he appointed him, not knowing that it would happen, he was deficient in knowledge. If the duke of Châu was not completely benevolent and wise, how much less can your Majesty be expected to be so! I beg to go and see Mencius, and relieve your Majesty from that feeling.'

3. Ch'an Chiâ accordingly saw Mencius, and asked him, saying, 'What kind of man was the duke of Châu?' 'An ancient sage,' was the reply. 'Is it the fact, that he appointed Kwan-shû to oversee the heir of Yin, and that Kwan-shû with the State of Yin rebelled?' 'It is.' 'Did the duke of Châu. know that he would rebel, and purposely appoint him to that office?' Mencius said, 'He did not know.' 'Then, though a sage, he still fell into error?' 'The duke of Châu,' answered Mencius, 'was the younger brother. Kwan-shû was his elder brother. Was not the error of Châu-kung in accordance with what is right?

4. 'Moreover, when the superior men of old had errors, they reformed them. The superior men of the present time, when they have errors, persist in them. The errors of the superior men of old were like eclipses of the sun and moon. All the people witnessed them, and when they had reformed them, all the people looked up to them with their former admiration. But do the superior men of the present day only persist in their errors? They go on to apologize for them likewise.'

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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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