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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, Tseen Tang, 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 his words, 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 for him, 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 Mencius, 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, ‘I 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 changes 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 Owyang 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 with
Heavenly principle. To use plans and arts, away from this, though they may be successful in great achievement, is the selfishness of human desires, and as far removed from the mode of action of the sage, as earth is from Heaven.” I shall close these testimonies with a sentence from Choo He himself. He says:—“Mencius, when compared with Confucius, always appears to speak in too lofty a style; but when we hear him proclaiming the goodness of man's nature, and celebrating Yaou and Shun, then we likewise perceive the solidity of his discourses.”
Dr. Legge adds, “The judgment concerning our philosopher contained in the above quotations will approve itself to every one who has carefully perused his Works.”
Mencius' doctrines were truly Republican. “The people are the most important element in a nation, the sovereign the highest.” “If the prince lave great faults, they ought to remonstrate with him, and if he do not listen to them after they have done so again and again, they ought to dethrone him. The king on this looked moved, and changed countenance. Mencius said, ‘Let not your Majesty be offended. You asked me, and I dare not answer but according to truth.’”
The highest style of a prince centers in his personal virtues. Mencius says, “Let the prince be benevolent, and all his acts will be benevolent. Let the prince be righteous, and all his acts will be righteous. Let the prince be correct, and all his acts will be correct. Once rectify the prince, and the kingdom will be firmly settled.”
The doctrine of “Concord,” or Universal Love was early a subject of discussion. Mih, a contemporary of Mencius advocated it in the abstract, while Mencius, not in the proper sense denying it, held to strong and particular love as that of kindred and friends. In China as elsewhere, the goodness and paternity of God has ever been held as indicating the divine will, that we should love one another; some, too, on the certain ground that it “worketh no ill; ” others as a duty owed to Heaven, whose sovereign will is complete and perfect, and men are only complete and perfect as this will is done by them.
THE WORKS OF MENCIUS.
CHAPTER I. 1. Mencius went to see king Hwuy of Leang. 2. The king said, “Wenerable sir, since you have not counted it far to come here, a distance of a thousand le, may I presume that you are likewise provided with counsels to profit my kingdom?” 3. Mencius replied, “Why must your Majesty use that word “profit?' What I am “likewise provided with, are counsels to benevolence and righteousness, and these are my only topics. 4. “If your Majesty say, ‘What is to be done to profit my kingdom?’ the great officers will say, ‘What is to be done to profit our families?’ and the inferior officers and the common people will say, ‘What is to be done to profit our persons?” Superiors and inferiors will try to snatch this profit the one from the other, and the kingdom will be endangered. In the kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of his sovereign shall be the chief of a family of a thousand chariots. In a kingdom of a thousand chariots, the murderer of his prince shall be the chief of a family of a hundred chariots. To have a thousand in ten thousand, and a hundred in a thousand, cannot be said not to be a large allotment, but if righteousness be put last, and profit be put first, they will not be satisfied without snatching all. 5. “There never has been a man trained to benevo
lence who neglected his parents. There never has been a man trained to righteousness who made his sovereign an after consideration. 6. “Let your Majesty also say, ‘Benevolence and righteousness, and these shall be the only themes.’ Why must you use that word—‘profit?’” II. 1. Mencius, another day, saw king Hwuy of Leang. The king went and stood with him by a pond, and, looking round at the large geese and deer, said, “Do wise and good princes also find pleasure in these things?” 2. Mencius replied, “Being wise and good, they have pleasure in these things. If they are not wise and good, though they have these things, they do not find pleasure. 3. “It is said in the Book of Poetry, “He measured out and commenced his spirit-tower; He measured it out and planned it. The people addressed themselves to it, And in less than a day completed it. When he measured and began it, he said to them —Be not so earnest: But the multitudes came as if they had been his children. The king was in his spirit-park; The does reposed about, The does so sleek and fat: And the white birds shone glistening. The king was by his spirit-pond; How full was it of fishes leaping about!’ “King Wan used the strength of the people to make his tower and his pond, and yet the people rejoiced to do the work, calling the tower ‘the spirit-tower, calling the pond ‘the spirit-pond, and rejoicing that he had his large deer, his fishes, and turtles. The ancients caused the people to have pleasure as well as themselves, and therefore they could enjoy it.