Mencius. Book VI: Kâo Tsze. Part II. Chapter VI.

Legge's summary: How Mencius replied to the insinuations of Shun-yü K'wan, condemning him for leaving office without accomplishing anything.

1. Shun-yü K'wan said, 'He who makes fame and meritorious services his first objects, acts with a regard to others. He who makes them only secondary objects, acts with a regard to himself. You, master, were ranked among the three chief ministers of the State, but before your fame and services had reached either to the prince or the people, you have left your place. Is this indeed the way of the benevolent?'

2. Mencius replied, 'There was Po'î;-- he abode in an inferior situation, and would not, with his virtue, serve a degenerate prince. There was Î Yin;-- he five times went to T'ang, and five times went to Chieh. There was Hûi of Liû-hsiâ;-- he did not disdain to serve a vile prince, nor did he decline a small office. The courses pursued by those three worthies were different, but their aim was one. And what was their one aim? We must answer-- "To be perfectly virtuous." And so it is simply after this that superior men strive. Why must they all pursue the same course?'

3. K'wan pursued, 'In the time of the duke Mû of Lû, the government was in the hands of Kung-î, while Tsze-liû and Tsze-sze were ministers. And yet, the dismemberment of Lû then increased exceedingly. Such was the case, a specimen how your men of virtue are of no advantage to a kingdom!'

4. Mencius said, 'The prince of Yü did not use Pâi-lî Hsi, and thereby lost his State. The duke Mû of Chin used him, and became chief of all the princes. Ruin is the consequence of not employing men of virtue and talents;-- how can it rest with dismemberment merely?'

5. K'wan urged again, 'Formerly, when Wang P'âo dwelt on the Ch'î, the people on the west of the Yellow River all became skilful at singing in his abrupt manner. When Mien Ch'ü lived in Kâo-t'ang, the people in the parts of Ch'î on the west became skilful at singing in his prolonged manner. The wives of Hwa Châu and Ch'î Liang bewailed their husbands so skilfully, that they changed the manners of the State. When there is the gift within, it manifests itself without. I have never seen the man who could do the deeds of a worthy, and did not realize the work of one. Therefore there are now no men of talents and virtue. If there were, I should know them.'

6. Mencius answered, 'When Confucius was chief minister of Justice in Lû, the prince came not to follow his counsels. Soon after there was the solstitial sacrifice, and when a part of the flesh presented in sacrifice was not sent to him, he went away even without taking off his cap of ceremony. Those who did not know him supposed it was on account of the flesh. Those who knew him supposed that it was on account of the neglect of the usual ceremony. The fact was, that Confucius wanted to go away on occasion of some small offence, not wishing to do so without some apparent cause. All men cannot be expected to understand the conduct of a superior man.'

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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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