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

Legge's summary: Ambition and avarice only make enemies and bring disasters. Safety and prosperity lie in a benevolent government.

1. The people of Ch'î, having smitten Yen, took possession of it, and upon this, the princes of the various States deliberated together, and resolved to deliver Yen from their power. The king Hsüan said to Mencius, 'The princes have formed many plans to attack me:-- how shall I prepare myself for them?' Mencius replied, 'I have heard of one who with seventy lî exercised all the functions of government throughout the kingdom. That was T'ang. I have never heard of a prince with a thousand lî standing in fear of others.'

2. 'It is said in the Book of History, As soon as T'ang began his work of executing justice, he commenced with Ko. The whole kingdom had confidence in him. When he pursued his work in the east, the rude tribes on the west murmured. So did those on the north, when he was engaged in the south. Their cry was-- "Why does he put us last?" Thus, the people looked to him, as we look in a time of great drought to the clouds and rainbows. The frequenters of the markets stopped not. The husbandmen made no change in their operations. While he punished their rulers, he consoled the people. His progress was like the falling of opportune rain, and the people were delighted. It is said again in the Book of History, "We have waited for our prince long; the prince's coming will be our reviving!"

3. 'Now the ruler of Yen was tyrannizing over his people, and your Majesty went and punished him. The people supposed that you were going to deliver them out of the water and the fire, and brought baskets of rice and vessels of congee, to meet your Majesty's host. But you have slain their fathers and elder brothers, and put their sons and younger brothers in confinement. You have pulled down the ancestral temple of the State, and are removing to Ch'î its precious vessels. How can such a course be deemed proper? The rest of the kingdom is indeed jealously afraid of the strength of Ch'î; and now, when with a doubled territory you do not put in practice a benevolent government;-- it is this which sets the arms of the kingdom in in motion.

4. 'If your Majesty will make haste to issue an ordinance, restoring your captives, old and young, stopping the removal of the precious vessels, and saying that, after consulting with the people of Yen, you will appoint them a ruler, and withdraw from the country;-- in this way you may still be able to stop the threatened attack.'

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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.