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

Legge's summary: Mencius in leaving a country or remaining in it was not influenced by pecuniary considerations, but by the opportunity denied or accorded to him of carrying his principles into practice.

1. Mencius gave up his office, and made arrangements for returning to his native State.

2. The king came to visit him, and said, 'Formerly, I wished to see you, but in vain. Then, I got the opportunity of being by your side, and all my court joyed exceedingly along with me. Now again you abandon me, and are returning home. I do not know if hereafter I may expect to have another opportunity of seeing you.' Mencius replied, 'I dare not request permission to visit you at any particular time, but, indeed, it is what I desire.'

3. Another day, the king said to the officer Shih, 'I wish to give Mencius a house, somewhere in the middle of the kingdom, and to support his disciples with an allowance of 10,000 chung, that all the officers and the people may have such an example to reverence and imitate. Had you not better tell him this for me?'

4. Shih took advantage to convey this message by means of the disciple Ch'an, who reported his words to Mencius.

5. Mencius said, 'Yes; but how should the officer Shih know that the thing could not be? Suppose that I wanted to be rich, having formerly declined 100,000 chung, would my now accepting 10,000 be the conduct of one desiring riches?

6. 'Chî-sun said, "A strange man was Tsze-shû Î. He pushed himself into the service of government. His prince declining to employ him, he had to retire indeed, but he again schemed that his son or younger brother should be made a high officer. Who indeed is there of men but wishes for riches and honour? But he only, among the seekers of these, tried to monopolize the conspicuous mound.

7. '"Of old time, the market-dealers exchanged the articles which they had for others which they had not, and simply had certain officers to keep order among them. It happened that there was a mean fellow, who made it a point to look out for a conspicuous mound, and get up upon it. Thence he looked right and left, to catch in his net the whole gain of the market. The people all thought his conduct mean, and therefore they proceeded to lay a tax upon his wares. The taxing of traders took its rise from this mean fellow."'

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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.