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and to this day it is said she is " held up as a model of what a mother should be." The early training of Mencius devolved upon his mother, for his father died when he was quite young. Dr. Legge says, " The year of Mencius' birth was probably the 4th of the emperor Lee, B. C. 371. He lived to the age of 84, dying in the year B. C. 288, the 26th of the emperor Nan, with whom terminated the long sovereignty of the Chow dynasty. The first twenty-three years of his life thus syncronized with the last twenty-three of Plato's. Aristotle, Zeno, Epicurus, Demosthenes, and other great men of the West, were also his contemporaries. When we place Mencius among them, he can look them in the face. He does not need to hide a diminished head."
Some interesting anecdotes are given of his early life. His mother moved three times on his account.
"At first they lived near a cemetery, and Mencius amused himself with acting the various scenes which he witnessed at the tombs. 'This,' said the lady, ' is no place for my son';— and she removed to a house in the market-place. But the change was no improvement. The boy took to playing the part of a salesman, vaunting his wares, and chaffering with customers. His mother sought a new house, and found one at last close by a public school. There her child's attention was taken with the various exercises of politeness which the scholars were taught, and he endeavoured to imitate them. The mother was satisfied. 'This,' she said, 'is the proper place for my son.'
"Han Ying relates another story of this period. Near their house was a pig-butcher's. One day Mencius asked his mother what they were killing the pigs for, and was told that it was to feed him. Her conscience immediately reproved her for the answer. She said to herself, 'While I was carrying this boy in my womb, I would not sit down if the mat was not placed square, and I ate no meat which was not cut properly; —sc I taught him when he was yet unborn. And now when his intelligence is opening, I am deceiving him;—this is to teach him untruthfulness!' With this she went and bought a piece of pork in order to make good her words.
"As Mencius grew up, he was sent to school. When he re« turned home one da;^, his mother looked up from the web which she was weaving, and asked him how far he had got on. He answered her with an air of indifference that he was doing well enough, on which she took a knife and cut through her web. The idler was alarmed, and asked what she meant, when she gave him a long lecture, showing that she had donf what he was doing,—that her cutting through her web was like his neglecting his learning. The admonition, it is said, had its proper effect; the lecture did not need to be repeated."
How far Mencius was indebted to Confucius may be inferred by an expression of his. "Although I could not be a disciple of Confucius myself, I have endeavoured to cultivate my character and knowledge by means of others who were."
It would seem Mencius had tutors of a class suited to the true ardor and bent of his mind; self-improvement is the main thing. He does not indicate any special one of his teachers to whom he is indebted; he takes all possible means to cultivate his mind. Scarcely anything is told of him now till he appears before the public with his disciples.
His independent bearing towards all classes shows that he did not respect the persons of men. Dr. Legge gives two anecdotes illustrative of this.
"' When Kang of T'ang made his appearance in your school,' said the disciple Kung-too, 'it seemed proper that a polite consideration should be paid to him, and yet you did not answer him ;—why was that?' Mencius replied, ' I do not answer him who questions me presuming on his ability, nor him who presumes on his talents, nor him who presumes on his age, nor him who presumes on services performed to me, nor him who presumes on old acquaintance. Two of those things were chargeabb on Kang of T'ang.'
"The other instance is that of Keaou of Ts'aou, who said to Mencius,'1 shall be having an interview with the prince of Tsow, and can ask him to let me have a house to lodge in. I wish to remain here, and receive instruction at your gate.' 'The way of truth,' replied the philosopher, 'is like a great road. It is not difficult to know it. The evil is only that men will not seek it. Do you go home and search for it, and you will have abundance of teachers.'"
Mencius' great forte was the the instruction of princes, who in his time were in need of good advice.^ At the age of forty years he claims to have attained '* an unperturbed mind." His instructions came to be much sought for by even princes. The king of Ts'e invited him to his dominions or court, but partaking of the common awe at his fame, sent persons " to spy out whether he was like other men." Mencius could advise the king to have a heart impatient of the people's sufferings, and use his will to do it. Agriculture and education were the chief points in Mencius' methods of instruction ;— "nourishment secured both for the body and mind of every subject" was what he wished to see secured by the acts of the sovereigns. "Be strong to do good. That is all your business." He had told the prince "results are with Heaven." Mencius is so often found with kings and princes, that it would seem he felt it to be his mission to counsel such. Half measures and compromises he seemed utterly to abhor. As he never took a salary, he could hold office and still be free
Upon the death of his excellent mother, Mencius held a splendid and costly funeral to show that " ' The superior man will not for all the world be niggardly to his parents.'''
In 309 B. c. Mencius visits the court of Loo. and this is his last visit to kings. He then commends the prince by calling him "A good man," "a real man." "He allows that 'he is not a man of vigour,' nor ' a man wise in council,' nor ' a man of much information,' but he says—' he is a man that loves what is good,' and 'the love of what is good is more than & sufficient qualification for the government of the empire ;— how much more is it so for the State of Loo!'"
Of the social life of Mencius little is known. His marriage had its "bitterness.'' He must have had children, for the nation honours his posterity.
His opinions or principles have been held in highest esteem. Dr. Legge says, "The scholars of China have never been slow to vindicate the memory of its sages and worthies. Undeterred by the imperial threat, Ts'een T'ang, a president of the Board of Punishments, presented himself with a remonstrance, saying—' I will die for Mencius, and my death will be crowned with glory.'
"The place which Mencius occupies in the estimation of the literati of China may be seen by the following testimonies, selected from those appended by Choo He to the prefatory notice of his Life in the ' Collected Comments.'
"Han Yu says, 'If we wish to study the doctrines of the sages, we must begin with Mencius.' He also quotes the opinion of Yang Tsze-yun, 'Yang and Mih were stopping up the way of truth, when Mencius refuted them, and scattered their delusions without difficulty;' and then remarks upon it:—* When Yang and Mih walked abroad, the true doctrine had nearly come to nought. Though Mencius possessed talents and virtue, even those of a sage, he did not occupy the throne. He could only speak and not act. With all his earnestness, what could he do? It is owing, however, to hiswords, that learners now-a-days still know to revere Confucius, to honour benevolence and righteousness, to esteem the true sovereign and despise the mere pretender. But the grand rules and laws of the sage and sage-emperors had been lost beyond the power of redemption; only one in a hundred of them was preserved. Can it be said in those circumstances that Mencius had an easy task? Yet had it not been fou hhr, we should have been buttoning the lappets of our coats on the left side, and our discourse would have been all-confused and indistinct;—it is on this account that I have honoured Meneius, and consider his merit not inferior to that of Yu.'
"One asked the philosopher Ch'ing whether Mencius might be pronounced to be a sage. He replied, 11 do not dare to say altogether that he was a sage, but his learning had reached the extremest point.' The same great scholar also said:— 'The merit of Mencius in regard to the doctrine of the sages is more than can be told. Confucius only spoke of benevolence, but as soon as Mencius opens his mouth, we hear of benevolence and righteousness. Confucius only spoke of the will or mind, but Mencius enlarged also on the nourishment of the passion-nature. In these two respects his merit was great. Mencius did great service to the world by his teaching the goodness of man's nature.'
"The great object of Mencius in his writings is to rectify men's hearts, teaching them to preserve their heart and nourish their nature, and to recover their lost heart. When he discourses of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and knowledge, he refers to the principles of these in the heart, commiserating, feeling shame and dislike, affected with modesty and complaisance, approving and disapproving. When he speaks of the evils springing from perverted speakings, he says— 'Growing first in the mind, they prove injurious to government.' When he shows how a prince should be served, he says—' Correct what is wrong in his mind. Once rectify the prince, and the kingdom will be settled.' With him the thousand cl anges and ten thousand operations of men all come from the mind or heart. If a man once rectify his heart, little else will remain for him to do. In the 'Great Learning,' the cultivation of the person, the regulation of the family, the government of the State, and the tranquillization of the empire, all have their root in the rectifying of the heart and the making the thoughts sincere. If the heart be rectified, we recognize at once the goodness of the nature. On this account, whenever Mencius came into contact with people, he testified that man's nature is good. When Owvang Yung-shuh says, that in the lessons of the sages, man's nature does not occupy the first place, he is wrong. • There is nothing to be put before this. Yaou and Shun are the models for ten thousand ages simply because they followed their nature. And to follow our nature is just to accord witl