CHAPTER XXXIV. Censures on Mencius (T'se Meng).
[When Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang, ^ the king said,
" You have not counted it far to come here, a distance of a thousand
Li, Sir. By what could you profit my kingdom? " — Mencius replied,
" I have nothing but benevolence and justice. Why must Your
Majesty speak of profit?"2]
Now, there are two kinds of profit, the one consisting in
wealth, the other in quiet happiness. King Hui asked, how he
could profit his kingdom. How did Mencius know that he did not
want the profit of quiet happiness, and straightway take exception
to the profit by wealth?
The Yiking says, " It will be advantageous to meet with
the great man."3 "It will be advantageous to cross the great
stream." 4 — " Chien represents what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and firm." 5 And the Shuking remarks that the black-haired people still esteem profit.6 They all
have the profit of quiet happiness in view. By practising benevolence and justice, one may obtain this profit.
Mencius did not say that he inquired of King Hui, what he
meant by profiting his kingdom. Had King Hui said: — " The profit
of wealth," Mencius might have given him the proper answer. But
though he did not know the purport of King Hui's question,
Mencius at once replied about the profit of wealth. Had King Hui
really inquired about it, Mencius adduced nothing in support of
his view. If, on the other hand, he had asked about the profit
of quiet happiness, and Mencius in his reply had spoken about the
1 Mencius I, Pt. I, 1. For the quotations from Mencius I adopt Legge's renderings, as far as possible.
2 This interview took place in 335 b.c. Liang was the capital of the Wei
State, the modern K'ai-fêng-fu.
3 Yiking Bk. I, I, 2.
4 Yiking Bk. I, V, 1.
5 Yiking Bk. 1, I, 1. Legge's translation (Sacred Books of the East Vol. XVI),
p. 57 and 07.
6 Shuking Pt. V, Bk. XXX, 6.
Censures on Mencius. 419
profit of wealth, he would have failed to give the prince the proper
answer, and would not have acted in the proper way.
[The king of Ch'i asked Shi Tse1 saying, " 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,'2 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? " — Shi Tse
conveyed this message to Mencius through Ch'ien Tse. 3 Mencius said,
" How should Shi Tse know that this cannot 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?"]4
In declining 100,000 chung Mencius was wrongly disinterested,
for wealth and honour is what man desires. Only he does not
stick to them, if he cannot obtain them in the proper way.5 Therefore in the matter of rank and salary an honest man sometimes
declines, and sometimes not, but why should he reject a present,
which he ought to have taken, on the plea that he does not covet
wealth or honour?
[Ch'ên Chin 6 asked Mencius saying, " When you were in Ch'i,
the king sent you a present of 100 yi 7 of the double metal, 8 and
you refused to accept it. When you were in Sung, 70 yi were sent
to you, which you accepted; and when you were in Hsieh,9 50 yi
were sent, which you likewise accepted. If your declining to
accept the gift in the first case was right, your accepting it in
the latter cases was wrong. If your accepting it in the latter cases
was right, your declining to do so in the first case was wrong.
You must accept, Master, one of these alternatives." — Mencius said,
" I did right in all the cases. When I was in Sung, I was about
to take a long journey. Travellers must be provided with what
is necessary for their expenses. The prince's message was, 'A
present to defray travelling expenses.' Why should I have declined
the gift? When I was in Hsieh, I was apprehensive of my safety,
and taking measures for my protection. The message was ' I have
1 An officer of Ch'i.
2 A chung is an ancient measure. As to its capacity opinions differ. 100 000
chung of rice was the customary allowance of a minister in a feudal State.
3 A disciple of Mencius, his full name being Ch'en Chin. See below.
4 Mencius U, Pt. U, 10.
5 See above p. 395.
6 The same as Ch'en Tse.
7 One yi was about 24 taels.
8 Double silver " worth twice as much as the ordinary '' (Legge).
9 A small principality in the south of Shantung.
420 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
heard that you are taking measures to protect yourself, and send
this to help you in procuring arms. Why should I have declined the
gift? But when I was in Ch'i, I had no occasion for money. To send
a man a gift, when he has no occasion for it, is to bribe him. How
is it possible that an honest man should be taken with a bribe?"]'
Whether money offered as a gift can be accepted or not, always depends on some reason. We are not covetous, if we accept
it, nor are we not covetous, if we do not accept it. There are
certain rules, why money can be taken, and why not, and there
are likewise certain principles on which a house can be accepted
or not. Now, Mencius does not say that he does not deserve it, and
that it would not be right for him as a non-official to take the house,
but he replies that he is not craving for wealth, and adduces the
100,000 chung which he had declined on a former occasion to draw a
conclusion in regard to the subsequent 10,000 chung. Formerly he
ought to have accepted the 100,000, how could he decline them?
[P'êng Kêng 2 asked Mencius saying, "Is it not an extravagant
procedure to go from one prince to another, and live upon them,
followed by several tens of carriages, and attended by several
hundred men? " — Mencius replied, " If there be not a proper ground
for taking it, a single bamboo-cup of rice may not be received
from a man. If there be such a proper ground, then Shuns receiving the empire from Yao is not to be considered excessive."] 3
How can the receiving of the empire from Yao be put on a
level with the acceptance of 100,000 chung? Shun did not decline
the empire, because there was a proper ground. Now Mencius does
not contend that for receiving 100,000 chung there is no proper
cause, but he says that he is not greedy of wealth and honour.
That is not the right modesty, and it could not be an example
4 [Shên T'ung, 5 on his own impulse, asked Mencius, saying,
"May Yen be smitten?" Mencius replied, " It may. Tse Kuei 6 had
1 Mencius II, Pt. II, 3.
2 Pêng Kêng was a disciple of Mencius.
3 Mencius III, Pt. II, 4.
4 Mencius II, Pt. II, 8.
5 A high officer of Ch'i.
6 Tse K'uei, King of Yen, a silly man, had ceded his throne to his minister
Tse Chih, hoping that the latter would decline the offer, but he unexpectedly accepted,
and Tse K'uei lost his throne. During the troubles caused in Yen by Tse K'uei's
son seeking to recover the kingdom, the C'hi State made an unsuccessful attempt to
conquer Yen. Shên T'ung had asked Mencius' advice about an invasion of Yen.
Censures on Mencius. 421
no right to give Yen to another man, and Tse Chi had no right
to receive Yen from Tse K'uei. Suppose there were an officer here,
with whom you, Sir, were pleased, and that, without informing
the king, you were privately to give to him your salary and rank;
and suppose that this officer, also without the king's orders, were
privately to receive them from you: — would such a transaction be
allowable? And where is the difference between the case of Yen
and this? "
The people of Ch'i smote Yen. Some one asked of Mencius,
" Is it really the case that you advised Ch'i to smite Yen? " — He
replied, " No. Shên T'ung asked me, whether Yen might be smitten,
and I answered him, ' It may.' They accordingly went and smote
it. If he had asked me, ' Who may smite it? ', I would have
answered him, ' He who is the minister of Heaven 1 may smite it.'
Suppose the case of a murderer, and that one asks me, ' May this
man be put to death?' I will answer him, 'He may.' If he ask
me, ' Who may put him to death? ' I will answer him, ' The
chief criminal judge may put him to death.' But now with one
Yen2 to smite another Yen — how should I have advised this? "]
One might ask whether Mencius did not really advise the
king to smite Yen. When Shên T'ung inquired, whether Yen could
be smitten, he had his own designs, and wished to smite it himself. Knowing that he would be very pleased with the reply,
Mencius ought to have answered that, although Yen could be smitten,
it could not be done but by the minister of Heaven. Then Shên
T'ung's plans would have collapsed, and his intention of smiting
Yen been given up. If Mencius was not aware of these designs,
and straightway made a reply, he did not pay attention to what
he said, and did not understand words.
[Kung Sun Ch'ou 4 inquired of Mencius, "I venture to ask
wherein you, Master, excel? " Mencius replied, " I understand
words." — The other pursued, "And what do you mean by saying
that you understand words? " Mencius said, " When words are
one-sided, I know how the mind of the speaker is clouded over;
when they are extravagant, I know how the mind is fallen and
sunk; when they are depraved, I know how the mind has departed
from principle, and when they are evasive, I know how the mind
1 A man entrusted by Heaven with the execution of its designs.
2 The one Yen is Chi, which was not better than Yen, and therefore not fit
to punish Yen as Heaven's delegate.
3 Mencius II, Pt. I, 2.
4 A disciple of Mencius.
422 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
is at its wits' end. These evils growing in the mind, do injury
to government, and, displayed in the government, are hurtful to
the conduct of affairs. Should a Sage again arise, he would undoubtedly follow my words."]
Mencius understood words and also knew, how a warning as
to the catastrophe which Shêen T'ung was bringing about, would
after all have been to his benefit. From the nature of the question
he must have known the desire implied in the words of Shên T'ung.
Knowing his aims, he must have had an idea of the disaster, in
which the thing was doomed to end.
Mencius said,1 ["It would be for the happiness of the people
of the whole empire. I hope that the king will change. I am
daily hoping for this."]
Was the king whom Mencius left, the same on whom he did
not wait at court formerly? 2 Why did he think so little of him
first, and make so much of him afterwards? Had it not been the
former king, he would not have abandoned him. If he quitted
him later on, the second king must have been worse than the first.
When he left the king, and stopped three days in Chou,3 it was
a less drastic measure than his not going to court, and staying
with Ching Ch'ou 4 Why was his behaviour not identical in the
two instances? Why did he not treat the king in the same manner
in both cases?
When Mencius was in Lu, Duke P'ing of Lu was about to
pay him a call, but his favourite Tsang Ts'ang slandered Mencius,
and stopped him. Yo Chêng Tse 5 told Mencius about it, who said,6
["A man's advancement is effected, it may be, by others, and the
stopping him, may be, from the efforts of others. But to advance
a man or to stop his advance is really beyond the power of men.
My not meeting with the prince of Lu is from Heaven."]
1 Mencius II, Pt.II, 12.
2 The King of Ch'i wished Mencius to call on him at court, informing him,
that he intended waiting upon Mencius himself, but had got a cold, and could not
go out. Mencius knew this to be a pretence, and therefore declined to go to court
on the pretence that he was unwell likewise. Cf. Mencius 11, Pt. II, 2. The king and
the philosopher were both too jealous of their dignity to get along well.
3 A small place in Chi, wiiore Mencius halted, expecting to be called I)ack.
4 An officer of Ch'i, with whom Mencius stayed, while the king was waiting
for him, at the former occasion.
5 A disciple of Mencius.
6 Mencius I, Pt. II, 16.
Censures on Mencius. 423
First he did not find favour with the prince of Lu and afterwards with that of Ch'i. There was no difference. But in the
first instance he held Heaven alone accountable, in the second, the
king. There is no stability in his reasoning. When the king of
Ch'i disdained his services, and he did not advance, some fellow
like Tsang Ts'ang must have slandered him. That was likewise
stopping or keeping back, but in both cases it was Heaven's decree
that he should not find employment, and beyond the power of men.
Why then did he still linger three days, when he left, and not
go straight on? Provided it was the fate of Heaven that he should
not meet with the king of Ch'i, who would not listen to his words,
could Heaven have changed this fate within the space of three
days, and bring about the interview? In Lu he gave all the credit
to Heaven, abandoned his schemes, and lost all hope. In Ch'i he
counted solely on the king, and was full of hopes. Thus the missing of one interview would have been merely the result of insinuations of men.
Some one may hold that Heaven's fate could not yet be settled
first, and that for this reason Mencius hoped that within three days
the king would call him back. This may be so, supposing that
fate requires three days. But would, upon such a supposition, the
fact that the king of C/ii first allow^ed him to leave not be due to
fate? If it was fate, and the limit three days, then Duke Ping of
Lu might as weW after three days time have rejected Tsang Ts'ang's
proposal, and followed the advice of Yo Chêng Tse, and have called
on Mencius. Wherefore was Mencius so hasty in attributing every
thing to Heaven? Had the duke paid Mencius a visit within three
days, how would the latter have justified his former utterance?
1[When Mencius left Ch'i, Ch'ung Yü 2 questioned him on the
way, saying, " Master, you look like one who carries an air of
dissatisfaction in his countenance. But formerly I heard you say,
' The superior man does not murmur against Heaven, nor bear a
grudge against men.' "
Mencius said, " That was one time, and this is another. It is
a rule that a true Imperial sovereign should arise in the course of
five hundred years, and that during that time there should be some
one illustrious in his generation. From the commencement of the
Chou dynasty till now, more than 700 years have elapsed. Judging
numerically, the date is passed. Examining the time, we might
1 Mencius U, Pt. U, 13.
2 A follower of Mencius.
424 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
expect the rise of such individuals in it. But Heaven does not yet
wish that the empire should enjoy tranquillity and good order.
If it wished this, who is there besides me to bring it about? How
should I be otherwise than dissatisfied?" — ]
What proof is there for the assertion of Mencius that in the
course of five hundred years a true emperor should arise? Ti Ku
was such a sovereign, and Yao also ruled over the empire as a true
sovereign. Yao transmitted the empire to Shun, who was likewise
a true emperor. He transmitted the empire to Yü, who reigned in
the same style. These four Sages were true Imperial sovereigns,
but they followed one another quite closely. 1 From Yü to T'ang
there is an interval of a thousand years and from T'ang to Chou
also.2 Wên Wang commenced the reign, and at his death handed it
over to Wu Wang. When Wu Wang expired, Chêng Wang and Chou
Kung together ruled over the empire. From the beginning of the
Chou dynasty to the time of Mencius 700 years again had elapsed,3
but no true emperor had arisen. In which period do we find then
that in the course of five hundred years a true sovereign arises?
Who has made this statement that there will be a true emperor
every five hundred years? Mencius says something which has no
foundation and no proof, and is based on some wild hypothesis.
Not having found favour with the king, he left Ch'i, and wore a
dissatisfied look. That does not show his wisdom, and places him
on a level with ordinary scholars.
Five hundred years is considered the period in which Heaven
produces a Sage. Moreover, Mencius says that Heaven did not yet
wish that the empire should enjoy tranquillity and good order.
His idea is that, when Heaven is willing to bless the empire with
tranquillity and good order, it must produce a wise emperor in
the course of five hundred years. According to what Mencius says,
Heaven produces a Sage on purpose. But are five hundred years
1 Wang Ch'ung omits Ti Chih, who followed his father Ti K'u. Owing to
his dissolute life, he was dethroned, and his brother Yao was elected in his place.
2 Those are rather round numbers. According to the common chronology
Yü reigned from 2205-2197, T'ang, the founder of the Shang dynasty from 1766-1753,
and the Chou dynasty commenced in 1122. Wu Wang's reign lasted from 1122-1115,
Ch'êng Wang's from 1115-1078. All these rulers are regarded by the Chinese as
true emperors. The interval between Yü and T'ang is about 400 years, that between
Tang and Wên Wang about 600 years. It is difficult to understand why Wang Ch'ung
in both cases speaks of a thousand years. The remark of Mencius that every five
hundred years a true sovereign arises, comes much nearer the truth.
3 About 800 years in fact after the usual chronology. The Bamboo Annals
reduce this space to about 700 years.
Censures on Mencius. 425
really the period within which it produces a Sage? If so, why
did Heaven not send the Sage forth? — Because it was not the time
for a wise emperor to arise, therefore Heaven did not produce him.
Since Mencius believes in it nevertheless, he does not know Heaven.
From the commencement of the Chou dynasty upwards of seven
hundred years had elapsed. " Judging numerically, the date, therefore, was passed, but examining the time, it might be possible."
What signifies that the date is passed, and what, that it is possible?
Date is equivalent to time, and time to date. The date being passed,
five hundred years are passed. From the beginning of the Chou
epoch up to that time upwards of seven hundred years had elapsed
i. e. two hundred years in excess. Should an emperor arise then,
he would already have missed the proper time. Yet Mencius avers
that considering the time, it might be possible. What does that mean?
He says that in the course of five hundred years a true Imperial sovereign should arise, and further that during that time
there should be some one illustrious in his generation. Is this somebody the same as the emperor or some one else? If he is, why
mention him a second time, if not, what sort of man is it who is
illustrious in his generation? Suppose the answer be: — "men like
Confucius and scholars like Mencius, who will instruct the youth,
and awaken the dullards and imbeciles," then Confucius has already
lived, and Mencius himself also has been born. Should we say: —
" wise ministers," they must live contemporaneously with a wise
ruler, and a wise minister appear, when a wise emperor arises.
Mencius speaks of five hundred years, but why does he say
" during that time? " If he does not mean the space of five hundred
years, but the time between, he must think of two or three hundred
years. Then a Sage could not work together with a wise emperor
arising after five hundred years, whom then has Mencius in view,
saying that during that time there should be some one illustrious
in his generation? " Heaven," says he, "does not yet wish that the
empire should enjoy tranquillity and good order. If it wished this,
who is there besides me to bring it about?" By these words
Mencius does not intend saying that he himself ought to be emperor, but that, if there were an emperor, he would act as his
minister. Whether there be an emperor and a minister, depends
on Heaven. When fate did not allow the empire to enjoy tranquillity and good order, Mencius did not acquiesce with a good
grace in Chi, but resented it, and wore a dissatisfied look. That
was very wrong of him.
426 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
1 [P'êng Kêng asked Mencius saying, ''Is it proper that a scholar
doing no service should receive support?" — Mencius answered, "If
you do not have an intercommunication of the productions of labour,
and an interchange of men's services, so that one from his over plus
may supply the deficiency of another, then husbandmen will have
a superfluity of grain, and women will have a superfluity of cloth.
If you have such an interchange, carpenters and carriage-wrights
may all get their food from you. Here now is a man, who, at
home, is filial, and abroad, respectful to his elders; who watches
over the principles of the ancient kings, awaiting the rise of future
learners — and yet you will refuse to support him. How is it that
you give honour to the carpenter and carriage-wright, and slight
him who practises benevolence and righteousness? "
Pêng Kêng said, " The aim of the carpenter and carriage-wright
is to seek for a living. Is it also the aim of the superior man
in his practice of principles thereby to seek for a living? " — " What
have you to do," returned Mencius, "with his purpose? He is of
service to you. He deserves to be supported, and should be supported. And let me ask, ' Do you remunerate a man's intention,
or do you remunerate his service? ' " To this P'êng Kêng replied,
"I remunerate his intention."
Mencius said, " There is a man here, who breaks your tiles,
and draws unsightly figures on your walls; — his purpose may be
thereby to seek for his living, but will you indeed remunerate
him? " — "No," said P'êng Kêng; and Mencius then concluded, "That
being the case, it is not the purpose which you remunerate, but
the work done." — ]
Mencius referred to the breaking of tiles and disfiguring of
walls with the object of impugning the remarks of Pêng Kêng,
knowing very well that he who breaks tiles or disfigures walls
does no services, but has a purpose, and that P'êng Kêng under
no circumstances would support him. However, with this reference
to the breaking of tiles and disfiguring of walls Mencius cannot
refute P'êng Kêng, because people acting in this way do not belong
to those who are seeking a living. Such being the case, this argument cannot be but forward against P'êng Kêng. People who,
without a reason, are breaking tiles and disfiguring walls, are either
mad, or merely playing. The purpose of madmen is not to seek
a living, and those who are disporting themselves, have not this
1 Mencius III, Pt. II, 4.
Censures on Mencius. 427
From those who seek a living a great many persons have
no advantage whatever. Therefore those wishing to support themselves sell things in the market as merchants, and live on the
price which they receive in exchange for their wares. Now, the
breakers of tiles and scribblers profit nobody, and cannot have this
intention. Reasonable persons know that such acts would profit
nobody, and consequently desist therefrom. The unreasonable are
akin to madmen, and certainly would not have that purpose.
Those who break tiles and disfigure walls, are like boys
throwing mud on the road, or is there any difference? When they
are dumping mud on the road, have they the intention of seeking
a living thereby? — They are still children, and have no purpose.
When old folks are playing, they behave like those who are
disfiguring walls. Have players the intention to seek a living?
Players rob each other of their money. When the sums won are
very high, they may be used as a livelihood, and eventually there
may be this intention.
People who throw stones and leap over them, are also very
much alike to those scribblers. Is the intention of those stone-
throwers and jumpers directed to their living? In short, the
criticisms brought forward by Mencius against P'êng Kêng are
not very thorough. If P'êng Kêng trusted in Mencius' words, we
may say that the latter " put him off with great smartness of
2[K'iang Chang Tse 3 said, "Is not Ch'ên Chung Tse 4 a man of
true self-denying purity? He was living in Wu-ling, 5 and for three
days was without food, till he could neither hear nor see. Over
a well grew a plum tree, the fruit of which had been more than
half-eaten by worms. He crawled to it, and tried to eat some of
the fruit, when, after swallowing three mouthfuls, he recovered
his sight and hearing."
Mencius replied, "Among the scholars of Ch'i, I must regard
Ch'ên Chung Tse as the thumb among the fingers. But still, where
1 A quotation from Analects V, 4, where Confucius condemns such smartness
of speech. — Wang Ch'ung is much smarter here than Mencius. The arguments
of Mencius are quite right, and Wang Chung only takes exception at the example
adduced by him, which indeed is not very lucky.
2 Mencius III, Pt. II, 10.
3 A grandee of the State of Ch'i.
4 A recluse.
5 A poor place in modern Chi-nan-fu (Shantung).
428 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
is the self-denying purity he pretends to? To carry out the principles which he holds, one must become 'an earth-worm, for so
only can it be done."
" Now, an earthworm eats the dry mould above, and drinks
from the yellow spring-water below. Was the house in which
Ch'ên Chung Tse dwelt built by a Po Yi,1 or was it built by a robber
like Chê? 2 Was the millet which he ate planted by a Po Yi, or
was it planted by a robber like Chê? These are things which
cannot be known."
" But," said K'uang Chang Tse, " what does that matter? He
himself weaves sandals of hemp, and his wife twists hempen thread,
to barter them."
Mencius rejoined, " Ch'ên Chung Tse belongs to an ancient and
noble family of Ch'i. His elder brother Tai received from Ko a
revenue of 10,000 chung,3 but he considered his brother's emolument
to be unrighteous, and would not live on it, and in the same way
he considered his brother's house to be unrighteous, and would not
dwell in it. Avoiding his brother and leaving his mother, he went
and dwelt in Wu-ling. One day afterwards, he returned to their
house, when it happened that some one sent his brother a present
of a live goose. He, knitting his brows, said, ' What are you
going to use that cackling thing for?' — By-and-by his mother killed
the goose, and gave him some of it to eat. Just then his brother
came into the house, and said, ' It's the flesh of that cackling thing,'
upon which he went out and vomited it. — Thus, what his mother
gave him he would not eat, but what his wife gives him he eats.
He will not dwell in his brother's house, but he dwells in Wu-ling.
How can he in such circumstances complete the style of life which
he professes? With such principles as Ch'ên Chung Tse holds, a
man must be an earth-worm, and then he can carry them out."]
Mencius in reprehending Ch'ên Chung Tse does not hit his weak
point. When Ch'ên Chung Tse showed such a disgust for the goose,
that he felt like vomiting, was it, because he would eat nothing
that came from his mother? Previously already he had expressed
his displeasure at the goose saying, " What are you going to use
thatcackling thing for? " When, later on, his mother had killed
it, and gave him some to eat, and his brother remarked, " It's the
flesh of that cackling thing," he felt ashamed that he was acting
1 The exemplar of purity cf. p. 168 Note 2 and below p. 435.
2 Cf. p. 139.
3 See above p. 419 Note 2.
Censures on Mencius. 429
contrary to what he had said before, and vomited it. Had his
brother not reminded him, he would not have vomited, and he
would then have eaten what his mother offered him. Therefore to
say that he would not eat anything coming from his mother conveys a wrong idea.
Suppose that Ch'ên Chung Tse was determined not to eat anything from his mother, he ought not to have eaten of the dish of
the goose, when it was brought. Now, after he had eaten it, and
learned that it was the goose, he felt so disgusted, that he vomited
it. Thus the vomiting was the effect of his being ashamed that
he had eaten something in opposition to his determination, it was
no want of affection between mother and son, nor a desire to eat
nothing that came from his mother.
" But still where is the self-denying purity Ch'ên Chung Tse
pretends to? To carry out his nature, one must become an earth-
worm, for so only can it be done. An earth-worm eats the dry
mould above, and drinks from the yellow spring-water below."
That would mean that an earth-worm is a paragon of purity, and
that, unless he was like an earth-worm, he could not be pure and
undefiled.1 Now, provided the house he was dwelling in was built
by Po Yi, and the millet he ate planted by Po Yi, his dwelling and
eating would be unstained purity. But perhaps he ate millet sown
by robber Che, or lived in a cottage constructed by robber Che, then
this circumstance would contaminate his purity. These strictures
on Ch'ên Chung Tse are not to the point either.
A house is built for man's sake to be lived in, and sandals
and thread are bartered against millet. If it really was planted
by a robber, or the house his building, at all events Ch'ên Chung Tse
had no cognisance of it. His brother's unrighteousness, however,
was apparent from his conduct. All saw his actions; they were
quite notorious and commented upon. Hence Ch'ên Chung Tse retired
to Wu-ling. He did not stop in his brother's house, and by the
weaving of sandals and twisting of thread obviated the necessity
of living on his salary. If Ch'ên Chung Tse stayed in Wu-ling, he
shunned the house of that brother, and vomited his food. Because
1 This seems not to have been the idea of Mencius. The tertium comparationis
is not the purity of the earth-worm, but its independence and self-sufficiency. Having
its earth to eat and some muddy water to drink, it has no further needs, as man
has, who is never quite independent of others. Unless he break off all intercourse
with his fellow-creatures, he cannot avoid all pollution. Thus the commentators and
Legge understand the passage. Wang Ch'ung's interpretation is forced.
430 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
these tilings could be heard with the ear and seen with the eye,
and were so public, that there could be no doubt, it is evident
that as a fact Ch'ên Chung Tse neither stayed with his brother nor
partook of his meals.
Now he had not seen who was the builder of his own house
in Wu-ling, nor did he know who planted the millet. But how
could he take the house, when it was just completed, or eat the
millet, when it was just reaped? These criticisms of Mencius go
The house where Ch'ên Chung Tse was living, may perhaps
have been built by the robber, so that Ch'ên Chung Tse would have
dwelt there without knowing it. Now Mencius contends that " to
carry out the principles which he holds, one must become an earth-
worm, for so only can it be done." But in the earth underneath
the house of the robber there are also earth-worms. They eat the
dry mould in the robber's house and drink from the yellow spring-
water there. Plow then would an earth-worm meet the requirements?
To carry out the principles of Ch'ên Chung Tse to the satisfaction
of Mencius one ought to be like a fish. A fish swims in the river
or the sea, and feeds upon their earth. No robber can dig through
the sea, or heap up its earth.
Ch'ên Chung Tse has done a great wrong, but the adverse
comments of Mencius do not hit it. Ch'ên Chung Tse left his mother,
and avoided his elder brother, to take up his solitary abode in
Wu-ling together with his wife. Because the house of his brother
was an unrighteous house, and his income an unrighteous income,
he did not care to stay and live with him, which was the height
of self-denying purity. However, when after his emigration to
Wu-ling he returned to wait upon his mother, it was his duty to
abstain from eating anything and leave again. When the goose
was brought in, there must have been other food besides, all prepared by his mother. This food was bought with his brother's
money, for it was evident that his mother had not her own private
millet which she could have offered him. Then Ch'ên Chung Tse
partook of his brother's salary.
Po Yi rather than eat the millet of Chou1 died of starvation
below Shou-yang.2 Would a meal of the millet of Chou have defiled
his purity? Ch'ên Chung Tse was not like Po Yi, but he came very
1 The Chou dynasty which Po Yi regarded as usurpers of the throne of the
legitimate emperors of the house of Shang.
2 A mountain in Shensi.
Censures on Mencius. 431
near him. Saying that one must become an earth-worm to carry
out those principles, Mencius uses a comparison which does not
justice to Ch'ên Chung Tse at all.
1[Mencius said, "There is a destiny for every thing. Those
who act as they ought, receive the natural destiny. 2 Therefore, he who
has the true idea of destiny, will not stand beneath a precipitous wall.
Death sustained in the discharge of one's duties, is the natural destiny.
Death under handcuffs and fetters is not the natural destiny."]
The meaning of these words of Mencius is that a man should
not run counter to his allotted fate. Through fair conduct he
obtains the natural destiny, whereas with recklessness and perversity he does not receive the natural one. Accordingly Heaven's
decree would depend on human actions.3
Confucius 4 did not become an emperor, Yen Yuan died prematurely, Tse Hia 5 lost his eye-sight, Po Niu 6 got leprosy. Was the
conduct of these four men not fair? Why did they not receive
the right destiny? Pi Kan 7 was disemboweled, Tse Hsü 8 was cooked,
Tse Lu 9 pickled. These were the most cruel modes of death on
earth, otherwise painful than handcuffs and fetters. If handcuffs
and fetters are really proving that the destiny of the person in
question is not the right one, then the conduct of Pi Kan and
Tse Hsü was not fair.
Man receives his destiny, and may be doomed to be crushed
to death, or to be drowned, or to be killed in battle, or to be
burned. He may be ever so conscientious in his dealings and
careful in his doings, it is of no avail.
Tou Kuang Kuo was sleeping with a hundred persons below a
mound of charcoal. 10 The charcoal collapsed, and all the hundred
1 Mencim VII, Pt. I, 2.
2 Legge understands this passage differently.
3 Wang Ch'ung denotes by natural destiny something different from what
Mencius expresses by it, which explains his polemic. Wang Ch'ung's natural destiny
is not influenced by human actions, whereas the natural, right, or correct destiny of
Mencius is the upshot of proper conduct. Cf. p. 138.
4 Vid. p. 169.
5 Cf. p. 164.
6 On Yen Yuan and Po Niu see p. 165.
7 Cf. p. 485 Note 6.
8 Tse Hsu or Wu Tse Hsü, the same as Wu Yuan p. 140.
9 Cf. p. 165.
10 Vid. p. 179.
482 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
people were killed, only Ton Kuang Kuo was saved, because it was
his destiny to be made a marquis. What difference is there between
the heaped up charcoal and the precipitous wall? Provided that
one is not doomed to be crushed, there may be a collapse, those
who have the fate of Tou Kuang Kuo will escape withal. " A man's
advancement may be effected by others, and the stopping him may
be from the efforts of others." ' 1 He who is to be crushed, may
perhaps be induced to stand below a wall.
The son of the landlord into whose cottage K'ung Chia 2
entered, was predestinated to a premature death and meanness.
Though he was introduced into the palace, he still became a door-
keeper. The not standing below a precipitous wall has the same
result as K'ung Chia's carrying the child into the palace.
1 3Iencius I, Pt. II, 16.
2 During a tempest the Hsia emperor K'ung Chia, 1879-1848 B.C., sought
shelter in a cottage. The landlord imagined that the visit of the son of heaven
was a lucky augury for his son, and that no misfortune would befall him in future.
Yet this son, later on, doing carpenter's work, accidentally broke his axe, and cut
off his two legs. He then became a doorkeeper, the only office for which he was
still fit (Lü Shi ch'un-ch'iu).