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S006: Of old, the mother of Mencius chose a neighbourhood

9. 昔孟母

Of old, the mother of Mencius 

Hsi 1 Meng 4 mu 3 

Old Mencius mother 

Hsi is composed of 日 sun (line 52) and the corruption of an obsolete character meaning stale meat. It originally meant dried meat, and is now used in the sense of formerly, of yore. 

Meng is composed of 子 tzu child as radical, with 皿 min or ming dishes as phonetic. It means chief, eldest, but is here the surname of the philosopher 孟子 Meng Tzu (line 119), latinised by the Jesuit missionaries as above. He flourished B.C. 372—289, and his teachings are contained in the last of the Four Books (line 119). 

Mu has been regarded (1) as the picture of a woman embracing a child, or (2) as representing the breasts of a woman. It becomes 媽 ma or ma-ma to the child, as with us (line 18). 

10. 擇鄰處

chose a neighbourhood; 

Tse 2 lin 2 ch'u 4 

Choose neighbour place 

Tse is composed of 手 shou hand (扌in combination), and a phonetic for which see line 344. 

Lin is composed of 邑, i a town or district (⻏ in combination), always on the right) and 粦 lin lights which flit over old battle-fields, will-o'-the-wisps, as phonetic. 

Ch'u is composed of radical 虍 hu a tiger and 処 as phonetic. This latter appears to have been the original character. It is explained as 夊 sui to walk (obsolete) and 几 chi a bench, = to walk to a bench, q.d. to stop, to abide, which are still meanings of 處 when read ch'u 2 , as also are to decide, to punish. 

[The story runs that when first left a widow Mencius' mother lived with her little boy near a cemetery, the result being that the latter was always playing at funerals. Removing to a house near the market-place, she found that the boy now began to play at buying and selling; and fearing the ill effect of these sordid associations, she next sought shelter near a college. There the young philosopher began to imitate the ceremonial observances in which the students were instructed, to the great joy and satisfaction of his mother. In modern China, more attention is paid to neighbours than to neighbourhood, every householder being held responsible for the doings of those on each side of him.]