The Ethics of Confucius, by Miles Menander Dawson, , at sacred-texts.com
IN logical progression Confucius rises from a discussion of duties toward the family to those toward the state, which social organization he regards as only a larger household, having all its ethical principles founded on those of the primary unit.
The Foundation of Government. "This is meant by 'To rightly govern the state, it is necessary first to regulate one's own family.' One cannot instruct others who cannot instruct his own children. Without going beyond the family, the prince may learn all the lessons of statecraft, filial piety by which the sovereign is also served, fraternal submission by which older men and superiors are also served, kindness by which also the common people should be ministered unto." (Great Learning, c. ix., v. 1.)
"From the loving example of one family, love extends throughout the state; from its courtesy, courtesy extends throughout the state; while the ambition and perverse recklessness of one man may plunge the entire state into rebellion and disorder." (Great Learning, c. ix., v. 3.)
By these words in "The Great Learning" the position of the family as the foundation of society and of its proper regulation as the basis for government is dwelt upon. The significance of this is perhaps obvious though not too familiar in these days when family ties and family discipline both tend to loosen. In the "Hsiâo King," the application of these principles is adroitly indicated as follows: "The filial piety with which the superior man serves his parents may be transferred as loyalty to the ruler; the fraternal duty with which he serves his elder brother may be transferred as deference to elders; his regulation of his family may be transferred as good government in any official position." (C. xiv.)
In the "Li Ki" the same results are deduced from the three primary human functions and duties as there set forth: "Husband and wife have their separate functions; between father and son there should be affection; between ruler and minister there should be strict application to their respective duties. If these three relations be rightly discharged, all other things will follow." (Bk. xxiv., 8.)
The strictly practical character also of this application is revealed by this saying of Yu Tze concerning the fount of orderly behaviour on the part of the citizen: "They are few who, being filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There have been none who, not liking to offend against their superiors, have been
fond of stirring up confusion." (Analects, bk. i., c. ii., v. i.)
To support and elucidate this view, also, Confucius cites the Book of Odes saying: "From them you learn the more immediate duty of serving one's father and the remoter one of serving one's prince." (Analects, bk. xvii., c. ix., v. 6.)
And again he cites and even quotes the "Shu King" to show the immediate and causal relation between the exercise of filial and fraternal piety and the establishment of government upon a sound and secure foundation: "What does the 'Shu King' say of filial piety? 'You are filial, you discharge your fraternal duties. These qualities are displayed in government. This, then, also constitutes the exercise of government.'" (Analects, bk. ii., c. xxi., v. 2.)
The Function of Government. "To govern means to rectify." (Analects, bk. xii., c. xvii.)
This from the "Analects" is repeated with greater particularity in the "Li Ki," accompanied by a lesson which the Chinese sages, who were almost invariably the instructors of princes, never wearied of insisting upon, thus: "Government is rectification. When the ruler does right, all men will imitate his self-control. What the ruler does, the people will follow. How should they follow him in what he does not do?" (Bk. xxiv., 7.)
This also, in the passage from the "Analects" just now quoted from, is similarly explained by Confucius, thus: "Ke Kang Tze asked Confucius
about government. Confucius replied, 'To govern means to rectify. If you lead with correctness, who will dare not to be correct?'" (Bk. xii., c. xvii.)
In the "Li Ki" the sentiment is expressed: "As men are constituted, the thing most important to them is government." (Bk. xxiv., 6.)
This refers, of course, to its indispensable office of rectification; and its importance is vividly illustrated by Mencius in the following passage, which also points out the normal play of cause and effect in the operation of government upon men's characters: "When right government prevails in the empire, men of little virtue submit to those of great virtue and men of little worth to those of great worth. When bad government prevails in the empire, men of little power submit to those of great power and the weak to the strong. Both are in accord with divine law." (Bk. iv., pt. i., c. vii., v. 1.)
The modeor, rather, one of the simpler and more obvious modesby which this may be accomplished, Confucius indicates in this saying: "Employ the upright and put aside the crooked; in this way, the crooked may be made to be upright." (Analects, bk. xii., c. xxii., v. 3.)
And that, in order that government may be stable, not to say benign, this course must perforce be followed, he inculcates in this colloquy: "The duke Gae asked, saying: 'What should be done in order to secure the submission of the
people?' Confucius replied, 'Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit.'" (Analects, bk. ii., c. xix.)
Government Exists for the Benefit of the Governed. "The duke of She asked about government. The Master said, 'Good government obtains when those who are near are made happy, and those who are far are attracted.'" (Analects, bk. xiii., c. xvi.)
This Mencius reiterated in this direct fashion: "The people are the most important element; . . . the sovereign, least important." (Bk. vii., pt. ii., c. xiv., v. 1.)
The "Li Ki" quotes the "Book of Poetry" as saying that government is fraternal and parentalrather than paternal, in the offensive sense usually attached to that word when applied to governmentthus:
And perhaps even more strikingly:
This, moreover, is not wholly sentimentalism; for with much practical force Confucius says:
Therefore, if remoter people are not submissive, all the influences of civil culture and virtue are to be cultivated to attract them to be so; and when they have been so attracted, they must be made contented and tranquil.
Now here are you, Yew and Kew, assisting your chief. Remoter people are not submissive and, with your help, he cannot attract them to him. In his own territory, there are divisions and downfalls, leavings and separations, and, with your help, he cannot preserve it. And yet he is planning these hostile movements within our state. (Analects, bk. xvi., c. i., v. 11, 12, 13.)
The hard-headed, severely practical Mencius, who about a century later exemplified in governmental theories so many of the most valuable of the principles laid down by Confucius, gives this yet more concrete form in these words: "If the seasons of husbandry be not interfered with, the grain will be more than can be eaten. If close nets are not allowed to enter the pools and ponds, the fishes and turtles will be more than can be consumed. If the axes and bills enter the hills and forests only at the proper time, the wood will be more than can be used. When the grain and fish and turtles are more than can be eaten and there is more wood than can be used, this enables the people to nourish their living and bury their dead, without any feeling against any. This condition, in which the people nourish their living
and bury their dead, is the first step in kingly government." (Bk. i., pt. i., v. 3.)
The foregoing precedent, more than two thousand years old, for modern agricultural departments and experiment stations and yet more recently instituted and still suspiciously regarded conservation movements is sufficiently startling; but Mencius goes far beyond that, as, for instance, when he says to King Seuen of Tse: "Therefore an intelligent ruler will regulate the livelihood of the people, so as to make sure that they shall have sufficient wherewith to serve their parents and also sufficient wherewith to support their wives and children." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. vii., v. 21.)
This picture of the blessings of a truly beneficent government and of its attractions, when accompanied by widespread prosperity of families, has been so recently presented in the United States of America, to which within three or four generations the needy and oppressed have thronged to make it one of the greatest of the nations, that it is surely worth while farther to exhibit the views of this later Chinese sage upon this subject: "Now if Your Majesty will institute a government whose action will all be benevolent, this will cause all the officers in the empire to wish to stand in Your Majesty's court, and the farmers all to wish to plough in Your Majesty's fields, and the merchants, both travelling and stationary, all to wish to have their goods in Your Majesty's market-places, and travelling strangers all to wish to make their
tours on Your Majesty's roads, and all throughout the empire who feel aggrieved by their rulers, to wish to come and complain to Your Majesty. And when they are so bent, who can hold them back?" (Bk. i., pt. i., c. vii., v. 18.)
The folly of the contrary policy and the office which it has performed in causing immigration into countries which are well-governed, that is, governed in the interests of the people, Mencius expatiates upon as follows: "Now among the shepherds of men throughout the empire, there is not one who does not find pleasure in killing men. If there were one who did not find pleasure in killing men, all the people in the empire would look towards him with outstretched necks. Such being indeed the case, the people would flock to him, as water flows downward with a rush, which no one can repress." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. vi., v. 6.)
In "The Great Learning" it is put thus, sententiously: "To centralize wealth is to disperse the people; to distribute wealth is to collect the people." (C. x., v. 9.)
And in the "Li Ki" Confucius is reported as saying: "With the ancients, in their government the love of men was the great point." (Bk. xxiv., 9.)
Mencius erected his advanced and detailed propositions concerning good government upon benevolence or the love of men, in an age when discussions concerning first principles, like " Love thine enemies!" over against "Be just to thine
enemies and reserve love for friends!" had given way to discussions of applied principles, like Tolstoian individualism or communism. Accordingly Mencius, addressing princes as their tutor, admonished them, saying: "Let benevolent government be put in practice and the people will be delighted with it, as if they were relieved from hanging by their heels." (Bk. ii., pt. i., c. i., v. 13.)
And with this in another place he coupled an inducement and a promise, thus: "If you will put benevolence in practice in your government, your people will love you and all in authority, and will be ready to die for them." (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. xii., v. 3.)
This has been said in the "Analects" in another way and with a warning as well as a promise, in these words: "If the people have plenty, their prince will not be left to want alone. If the people are in want, their prince will not be able to enjoy plenty alone." (Analects, bk. xii., c. ix., v. 4.)
The responsibility for evil conditions, also, Confucius fastens unescapably upon the corrupt or incompetent administrator who seeks to profit and enjoy, not as a reward for genuine service of his people, but because, in effect if not by design, he has despoiled them. This is his scathing denunciation of such rulers: "How can he be used as a guide to a blind man who does not support him when tottering or raise him up when fallen? And further, you speak wrongly. When a tiger or a wild bull escapes from his cage, when a tortoise
or gem is injured in its repositorywhose is the fault?" (Analects, bk. xvi., c. i., v. 6, 7.)
The heartless suggestions regarding the unfortunate of earth's children, which are often brought forward on pseudo-scientific grounds, find no welcome in the breast of the sage, as this will show: "Ke Kang Tse asked Confucius about government, saying, 'What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?' Confucius replied, 'Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your desires be shown to be for what is good, and the people will be good. The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass; the grass must bend when the wind blows across it.'" (Analects, bk. xii., c. xix.)
The "Analects" enjoin, instead, infinite mercy and commiseration for the human wrecks into which evil government distorts our common human nature, as in this passage, quoting the philosopher Tsang, with manifest approval: "The chief of the Mang family having appointed Yang Foo to be chief criminal judge, the latter consulted the philosopher Tsang. Tsang said, 'The rulers have failed in their duties and the people consequently have been disorganized for a long time. When you have found out the truth about any accusation, be grieved over it, pity the malefactor, and take no pride in your superior discernment.'" (Analects, bk. xix., c. xix.)
And in the "Shu King," the ancient worthy, Pan-Kang, is represented to have said: "Do not despise the old and experienced and do not make little of the helpless and young." (Pt. iv., bk. vii., 2.)
It is to fidelity to this fundamental principle of correct government, i.e., that it was instituted and maintained for the benefit of the governed, and to the correlate principles by which it may be so applied, that Confucius refers when he says: "When right principles prevail in the empire, there will be no controversies among the common people." (Analects, bk. xvi., c. ii., v. 3.)
The true requisite for the attainment of antipoverty aspirations, namely, that the poor be not despoiled, and thus all things be turned topsy-turvy in the state, Confucius sets forth in the "Analects": "When the people keep their respective places, there will be no poverty; when harmony prevails, there will be no scarcity of people; when there is repose, there will be no rebellions." (Analects, bk. xvi., c. L, v. 10.)
The view of the immediate disciples of Confucius as to what a well-governed country would look like, as well as their confidence that their great teacher could have realized it, had he been invested with the sovereignty, are announced in these burning sentences: "Were our Master in the position of the prince of a state or the chief of a family, we should find this description verified: He would plant the people and forthwith they would be
established; he would lead them and forthwith they would follow him; he would make them happy and forthwith multitudes would resort to his dominions; he would cheer them and forthwith they would become harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When he died, he would be bitterly lamented." (Analects, bk. xix., c. xxv., v. 4.)
The Essentials of Good Government. Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler.
Tsze-kung said, If it cannot be helped and one of these must be dispensed with, which of the three should be forgone first? The military equipment, said the Master.
Tsze-kung again asked, If it cannot be helped and one of the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of them should be forgone? The Master answered, Part with the food. From of old death has been the lot of all men; but if the people have not confidence in their rulers, there is no stability for the state. (Analects, bk. xii., c. vii.)
The manner in which the confidence so discussed in the "Analects" may be gained and held is variously described but perhaps never more aptly than in this passage from "The Great Learning":
On this account, the ruler will first take pains
about his own virtue. Possessing virtue, he will win the people. Possessing the people, he will win the realm. Possessing the realm, he will command revenue. Possessing revenue, he will have resources for all demands.
Virtue is the root; ample revenue the fruit.
If he make the root secondary and the fruit the prime object, he will but wrangle with his people and teach them rapine. (C. x., v. 6, 7, 8.)
In the "Analects," also, it is remarked: "The superior man, having obtained their confidence, may impose tasks upon the people. If he have not gained their confidence, they will deem his acts oppressive." (Bk. xix., c. x.)
Mencius, however, much more circumstantially describes the essentials of a worthy government in a tribute to the glorious rule of King Wan, in these words:
The king said, May I hear from you what the truly kingly government is?
Formerly, was the reply, King Wan's government of Ke was as follows: Farmers cultivated one ninth of the land for the government; descendants of government servants were pensioned; at the passes and in the markets, strangers were inspected, but goods were not taxed; there were no prohibitions respecting the ponds and weirs; the wives and children of criminals were not involved in their guilt. There were old widowers, old widows, old bachelors and maidens, fatherless or orphan children;these four classes
are the most destitute of the people and have none to whom they can tell their wants; and King Wan, in the institution of his government with its benevolent influence, made them the first objects of his regard. (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. v., v. 3.)
The benign consequences of beneficent rule and the confidence and willing obedience of the people when the ruler is worthy of it, Mencius sets forth thus: "It is said in the Book of History, that as soon as Tang began his work of executing justice, he commenced with Ko. The whole empire 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. The cry was,'Why does he leave us until the last?' The people looked unto him as when looking in time of severe drought to clouds and rainbows. The men of the markets stopped not, the husbandmen did not turn from their labours. He blessed the people as he punished their rulers. It was like an opportune shower and the people rejoiced." (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. xi., v. 2.)
How he responded to King Seuen of Tse about the means of securing this limitless confidence of the people is thus recorded: "The King said, 'What virtue must there be in order to the attainment of imperial sway?' Mencius replied, 'The love and protection of the people; with this, there is no power which can prevent a ruler from attaining it.'" (Bk. i., pt. i., c. vii., v. 3.)
In "Shuo Yuan" (bk. xi.), Yen Yuan says: "I wish to have a wise king or a sage ruler and to become his minister. I should cause there to be no reason to repair the city walls, the moats and ditches to be crossed by no foeman, and the swords and spears to be melted into tools of agriculture. I should cause the whole world to have no calamity of warfare anywhere for thousands of years," and Confucius is reported to have said, "What I wish is the plan of the son of Yen."
In the "Great Model," however, Confucius yet more clearly sets forth the utilitarian basis of all government, asserting that it is instituted among men to secure for them the five blessings and secure them against the six calamities. The five blessings are: Ample means, long life, health, virtuous character, and an agreeable personal appearance; the six calamities, early death, sickness, misery, poverty, a repulsive appearance, and weakness.
Certainly these, as objects to be attained by civil government, embrace all that even the most enlightened peoples of modern times aim at, hope for, and struggle to achieve.
In the "History of Han" (chap. xci.), Pan Ku gives the following account, strangely applicable to our own day, of the consequences of the perversion of government to the enrichment of the few and the impoverishment of the many: "Under the influence of luxury and extravagance, the students and the common people all disregarded the regulations
and neglected the primary occupation. The number of farmers decreased, and that of merchants increased. Grain was insufficient, but luxurious goods were plenty. After the age of Duke Huan of Chi and Duke Wên and Tsin, moral character was greatly corrupted, and social order was confused. Each state had a different political system, and each family had different customs. The physical desires were uncontrolled, and extravagant consumption and social usurpation had no end. Therefore, the merchant transported goods which were difficult to obtain; the artisans produced articles which had no practical use; and the student practised ways which were contrary to orthodoxy; all of them pursued the temporary fashion for the getting of money. The hypocritical people turned away from truth in order to make fame, and guilty men ran risks in order to secure profit. While those who took the states by the deed of usurpation or regicide became kings or dukes, the men who founded their rich families by robbery became heroes. Morality could not control the gentlemen, and punishment could not make the common people afraid. Among the rich, the wood and earth wore embroidery, and the dog and horse had a superabundance of meat and grain. But, among the poor, even the coarsest clothes could not be completed; beans made their food and water was their drink. Although they were all in the same rank of common people, the rich, by the power of wealth, raised
themselves to kings, while the others, although their actual condition was slavery and imprisonment, had no angry appearance. Therefore, those who were deceitful and criminal were comfortable and proud in the world, but those who held principles and followed reason could not escape hunger and cold. Such an influence came from the government, because there was no regulation to control the economic life."
In the "Li Ki" Confucius lays bare the cause which creates such consequences, thus: "The small man, when poor, feels the pinch of his straitened circumstances; and when rich, is liable to become proud. Under the pinch of that poverty, he may proceed to steal; and when proud, he may proceed to deeds of disorder. The social rules recognize these feelings of men, and lay down definite regulations for them, to serve as preventions for the people. Hence, when the sages distributed riches and honours, they made the rich not have power enough to be proud; and kept the poor from being pinched and the honourable men not be intractable to those above them. In this way the causes of disorder would more and more disappear." (Bk. xxvii., 2.)
And Tung Chung-Shu says of these conditions: "It is said by Confucius, 'We are not troubled with fears of poverty, but are troubled with fears of a lack of equality of wealth.' Therefore, when there is here a concentration of wealth, there must be an emptiness there. Great riches make
the people proud; and great poverty makes them wretched. When they are wretched, they would become robbers; when they are proud, they would become oppressors; it is human nature. From the nature of the average man, the sages discovered the origin of disorder. Therefore, when they established social laws and divided up the social orders, they made the rich able to show their distinction without being proud, and the poor able to make their living without misery; this was the standard for the equalization of society. In this way, wealth was sufficient, and the high and low classes were peaceful. Hence, society was easily governed well. In the present day, the regulations are abandoned, so that everyone pursues what he wants. As human wants have no limit, the whole society becomes indulgent without end. The great men of the high class, notwithstanding they have great fortune, lament the insufficiency of their wealth; while the small people of the lower classes are depressed. Therefore, the rich increase in eagerness for money, and do not wish to do good with it; while the poor violate the laws every day, and nothing can stop them. Hence, society is difficult to govern well." (Many Dewdrops of the Spring and Autumn, bk. xxvii.)
The Nourishment of the People. "When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honours are
things to be ashamed of." (Analects, bk. viii., c. xiii., v. 3.)
The meaning of this passage from the "Analects" is, that the most important function of government is to secure the equitable distribution of the products of human labour to the end that no deserving person shall suffer want. Obviously, also, if the mere acquisition of wealth were, by reason of just conditions, truly a test of desert, the most important step would have been taken toward the rectification of men; for if virtue were the only road to affluence, many are they who would walk therein.
Mencius put this convincingly, thus: "When a sage governs the world, he will cause pulse and grain to be as abundant as water and fire. If pulse and grain were as abundant as water and fire, should the people be otherwise than virtuous?" (Bk. vii., pt. i., c. xxiii., v. 3.)
The first office of the government in this regard is, of course, instruction; and it is interesting to find the most modern of governmental inventions, an agricultural department and its stations, thus forestalled by Mencius: "Let mulberry trees be planted about the homesteads with their five mow and persons of fifty years may be clothed with silk. In keeping fowls, pigs, dogs, and swine, let not their breeding time be neglected and persons of seventy years may eat flesh." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. iii., v. 4.)
And the yet more recent innovation, conservation,
was pronounced a duty in the "Li Ki" in these words: "Where the wide and open country is greatly neglected and uncultivated, it speaks ill for those in authority." (Bk. i., sect. i., pt. v., c. iii., v. 11.)
Both in its external relations with other states and peoples, and in its internal affairs, Confucius held that the government must frown upon conduct which proceeds from sordid motives. It is put, briefly and pointedly, in this saying: "In a state, gain is not to be considered prosperity, but its prosperity will be found in righteousness." (Great Learning, c. x., v. 23.)
Mencius dwells upon one phase of the significance of this text, in answering a king who sought gain for his kingdom to the disadvantage of others, in this fashion: "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 us?' Superiors and inferiors will try to snatch this profit the one from the other and the kingdom will be endangered." (Bk. i., c. i., v. 4.)
The "Li Ki" supplies this picture of the demoralization which reigns when the government does not restrain the powerful and the unscrupulous: "The strong press upon the weak, the many are cruel to the few, the knowing impose upon the dull, the bold make it bitter for the timid, the sick are not nursed, the old and young, the orphans and
solitaries are neglected; such is the great disorder that ensues!" (Bk. xvii., sect. i., 12.)
Mencius makes a most pertinent inquiry, the answer to which may well stagger the advocates of unrestricted laissez-faire, in the following colloquy with King Hwuy of Leang:
Is there any difference between killing a man with a stick and with a sword? The king said, There is no difference.
Is there any difference between doing it with a sword and with the government? The reply was, There is no difference.
In your kitchen there is fat meat; in your stables there are fat horses. Your people have the look of hunger, and on the wilds lie those who have died of famine. This is leading on beasts to devour men. (Bk. i., pt. i., c. iv., v. 2, 3, 4.)
Mencius, however, by no means approved of applying undeservedly harsh epithets even to those who despoil the people, or of intemperately denouncing, by means of false similes, their conduct, however reprehensible: Wan Chang said, The princes of the present day take from their people just as a robber despoils his victim. Yet if they put a good face of propriety on their gifts, the superior man receives them. I venture to ask how you explain this.
Mencius answered: Do you think that if there should arise a truly Imperial sovereign, he would collect the princes of the present day and put them to death? Or would he admonish them
and, on their not changing their ways, put them to death? Indeed, to call everyone who takes what does not properly belong to him, a robber, is pushing a point of resemblance to the utmost and insisting on the most refined idea of righteousness. (Bk. v., pt. ii., c. iv., v. 5.)
The idea of Utopia, where everybody's desires, however extensive, will be sated, is thus entirely foreign to the conception of Confucius and his followers. It is also said in the "Many Dewdrops of the Spring and Autumn": "The objects of wants are limitless; the supply can never be adequate. Therefore is there the keen sense of deprivation." (Bk. xxvii.)
But fair and equitable distribution is necessary, both for the material and the ethical well-being of the community. And in the Commentary of Kung-Yang on "The Spring and Autumn," Ho Hsiu is represented as saying concerning the deadly destruction of the poor by the competition of the rich and powerful, these words which are so applicable to these modern days of trusts and combinations: "When the rich compete with the poor, even though the law were made by Kau Yau, nothing can prevent the strong from pressing on the weak."
Confucius warns of the consequences of driving the people to desperation, thus: "The man who is fond of daring and is discontented with his poverty, will proceed to insubordination." (Analects, bk. viii., c. x.)
Mencius gave much attention to the duty of the ruler to provide for the certain support, comfort, and even pleasure and entertainment of the people,not the enervating, brutal, degrading, pauperizing largess of ancient Rome, but protection against force, fraud, and fortune, the triad of enemies of the just distribution of the products of labour. These are a few of his aptest statements:
"If Your Majesty loves wealth, let the people be able to gratify the same feeling and what difficulty will there be about your attaining the Imperial sway?" (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. iv., v. 4.)
"If Your Majesty now will make pleasure a thing common to the people and yourself, the Imperial sway awaits you." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. i., v. 8.)
"The ancients caused the people to have pleasure as well as themselves, and therefore they could enjoy it." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. i., v. 3.)
"When a ruler rejoices in the joy of his people, they also rejoice in his joy; when he grieves at the sorrow of his people, they also grieve at his sorrow. A common feeling of joy will pervade the empire, a common feeling of sorrow the same. In such a condition, it cannot be but that the ruler will attain to the Imperial dignity." (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. iv., v. 3.)
The reverse side of the picture this reverent follower of Confucius thus presents: "Their feeling thus (i.e., disaffected and disloyal) is for no other
reason than that you do not permit the people to have pleasure as well as yourself." (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. i., v. 6.)
The establishment of public holidays is also enjoined, in which all classes of the people partake under the guidance of public officials. At these there was the "Rite of District Drinking," i.e., the custom of liberal alcoholic potations in celebration of the occasion and as a part of the good-fellowship. Wines, brewed and distilled liquors appear to have been known to the ancient Chinese; and Confucius favoured festivals at which, under proper ceremonial restrictions, jollity and merriment were given full rein. The manner of drinking but not the amount was strictly regulated.
Most vividly and in sharp contrast with these days of high prices and dear living, with the growth of luxury, the diminution of the marriage rate, and the yet greater fall of the birth rate, Mencius presents this view of what good government should provide for the citizens and through them for mankind: "At that time, in the seclusion of home there were no pining women, and outside of it no unmarried men." (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. v., v. 5.)
And here he affirms the consequences of evil government consequences so alarmingly like those over which the great nations are now lamenting as to awaken wonder whether the same causes may not always be at work when such results are again found: "In years of calamity and famine, the weak and old, lying in the ditches and water-courses,
and the able-bodied, scattered to the four quarters, have been myriads in number." (Mencius, bk. i., pt. ii., c. xii., v. 2.)
It has not required physical calamity or famine, also, to bring these demoralizing conditions to the peoples of the most modern and civilized nations!
This worthy apostle of the doctrine of Confucius, however, has yet clearer insight into the causes of the utter demoralization of the despairing and destitute. What a sermon upon the text, "The destruction of the poor is their poverty!" is spoken in these two sentences: "In such circumstances they only try to save themselves from death and are afraid they will not succeed. What opportunity have such to cultivate propriety and righteousness?" (Bk. i., pt. i., c. vii., v. 22.)
Or, indeed, opportunity or inducement to cultivate efficiency as men and workmen?
This involves the germ of the newest truths conceived by modern statesmen, namely: That absolute assurance of freedom from want, for self and dependents, this to be obtainable only by efficient labour but as its sure reward, is the most powerful incentive to efficiency and industry; and that, whenever the conditions created by the government fall short of this, their influence is to this extent demoralizing and destructive to the men, women, and children who form the nation.
Upon this Mencius said to King Seuen of Tse, in a memorable conversation upon the duties of a ruler: "Only men of training can, without a
certain livelihood, maintain a fixed heart. As to the people, if they have not a certain livelihood, it follows that they will not have a fixed heart. If they do not have a fixed heart, there is nothing which they will not do in self-abandonment, moral deflection, depravity, and wild license. When they have thus been involved in crime, to pursue them and punish them is to entrap the people." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. vii., v. 20.)
This light is even now just dawning upon the minds of the pioneers in progress in the most advanced nations. Fortunate that people which first realizes it in its national life and practice, and lamentable the case of that nation and its people who longest sin against that light!
Mencius, following out the Confucian concept of the state as founded upon the family, boldly asserts that good government must be parental. The word "paternal" would have had no terrors, surely, in a land where the most sacred name, next to that of God himself, is father. And if the people, as in a republic, choose them who are to rule over them, this would seem but to increase the obligation to deal in a fatherly and not an unfatherly manner, toward the people who have so displayed their trust.
Accordingly Mencius could find nothing worse to say of a delinquent ruler than this, quoted from Lung Tze: "When the parent of the people causes them to look distressed and, after toiling the entire year, not to be able to support their
parents, so that they must borrow to increase their income and so that the old and the little children are found lying in the ditches and streamswhere, then, is there anything parental in his relation to the people?" (Bk. iii., pt. i., c. iii., v. 7.)
Confucius fully shared this view as clearly appears from all that he has spoken concerning the character and duties of the great and worthy ruler of his fellow-men. These sayings are scattered throughout this book; but this reply to one of his disciples discloses in few words his conception of the highest qualities attainable by a true servant of the people: "Tsze-kung said: 'Suppose the case of a man extensively conferring benefits on the people, and able to assist all, what would you say of him? Might he be called perfectly virtuous?' The Master said: 'Why speak only of virtue in connection with him? Must he not have the qualities of the sage?'" (Analects, bk. vi., c. xxviii., v. 1.)
In the "Li Ki" this parable is told to illustrate the people's well-grounded terror of misrule: "In passing by the side of Mount Thai, Confucius came upon a woman who was wailing bitterly by a grave. The Master bowed forward to the crossbar, and hastened to her; and then sent Tsze-loo to question her. 'Your wailing,' said he, 'is altogether like that of one who has suffered sorrow on sorrow.' She replied, 'It is so. Formerly my husband's father was killed here by a tiger.
[paragraph continues] My husband was also killed by one, and now my son has died in the same way.' The Master said, 'Why do you not leave this place?' The answer was, 'There is no oppressive government here.' The Master then said to his disciples: 'Remember this, my little children. Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers.'" (Bk. ii., sect. ii., pt. iii., 10.)
The Middle Path in Political Economy. "Hence there is this saying: 'Some labour with their minds and some with their muscles. They who labour with their minds, govern others; they who labour with their muscles are governed by others. They who are governed by others, support them; they who govern others, are supported by them.' This is a principle universally recognized." (Mencius, bk. iii., pt. i., c. iv., v. 6.)
In the time of Confucius, it does not appear that either extreme, anarchism or communism, was so urged upon men's notice as to compel his attention; but Mencius, from whose sayings this passage is taken and who lived over a century later, was frequently confronted with their specious arguments.
This deliverance was in reply to the following argument in favour of Tolstoian individualism, presented to Mencius by Chin Seang: "Now wise and able princes should cultivate the ground equally and along with their people and eat the fruit of their labours. They should prepare their own meals, morning and evening, while at the
same time they carry on the government." (Mencius, bk. iii., pt. i., c. iv., v. 3.)
The doctrine of the division of labour and of the interchange of services and of the products of labour, Mencius again supported in this passage: "If you do not have an exchange of the products of labour and an interchange of service, so that too much there will make good too little here, then farmers will have a surplus of grain and women of cloth. If you have such an interchange, carpenters and wagon-makers may earn and receive their sustenance." (Bk. iii., pt. ii., c. iv., v. 3.)
The doctrine of extreme individualism, when presented in another guise, is thus characterized by the Duke King of Tse, as reported by Mencius: "Not to be able to command others and at the same time to refuse to receive their commands, is to cut one's self off from all intercourse with men." (Bk. iv., pt. i., c. vii., v. 2.)
At another time he thus showed the destructive and anarchical effects, now only too well known by experience, of the full adoption of either the extreme individualistic or the extreme communistic view: "Yang's principle is: 'Every man for himself,' which does not recognize the superior claim of the sovereign. Mih's principle is: 'Equal favour for all,' which does not acknowledge the superior claim of a father. But to acknowledge neither sovereign nor father is to lapse into barbarism. . . . If the principles of Yang or of Mih were urged and the principles of Confucius were
not urged, these perverse reasonings would delude the people and check the course of benevolence and righteousness. When such are checked, beasts will be led forth to devour men and men will devour one another." (Bk. iii., pt. ii., c. ix., v. 9.)
Provision for the Aged, Widows, Orphans, and Other Unfortunates. "A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease; so that they were all sufficiently maintained. Men had their proper work and women their homes." (Li Ki, bk. vii., sect. i., 2.)
The foregoing is the description of the blissful consequences of good government, contained in "The Grand Course" as set forth in the "Li Ki."
Mencius made the support of the old, with reverence and honour, the first care of the state, saying: "If there were a prince in the empire who knew well how to nourish the old, all good men would feel that he was the right one for them to rally around." (Bk. vii., pt. i., c. xxii., v. i.)
It is by no means sufficient that the old be supported; they must be supported respectably and, what is more to the point, respectfully. The doctrines of Confucius did not tolerate want of homage to the old. This the following passages from the "Li Ki" abundantly illustrate: "Yü,
[paragraph continues] Hsiâ, Yin, and Kâu produced the greatest kings that have appeared under heaven and there was not one of them who neglected age. Long under heaven has honour been paid to length of years! To do so is next to service of one's parents." (Bk. xxi., sect. ii., 15.) "There were five things by means of which the ancient kings secured the good government of the whole kingdom: the honour which they paid to the virtuous, to the noble, and to the old, the reverence which they showed the aged, and their kindness to the young. By these five things they maintained the stability of their kingdom." (Bk. xxi., sect. i., 13.)
Confucius is quoted in the same book as saying: "When those in authority at their courts show respect for the aged, the people will be filial." (Bk. xxvii., 24.)
And in another place in the "Li Ki" he supplies this apt test of a good government of a good people: "When they saw an old man, people driving or walking gave him the road. Men who had white hairs mingling with the black did not carry burdens along the highways." (Bk. xxi., 17.)
But it is not alone the aged who are by the authorities of a well-governed state made the objects of affectionate, prudent care, not as a matter of charity but as a right. Mencius in these words of practical wisdom offered mutual insurance as a solution for this, effectual so far as anything human can equalize inequalities, to ward off disasters that overwhelm a man when standing
utterly alone. The following expression of his views has a decidedly twentieth-century, even Bismarckian tang: "In the fields of a district, those who belong to the same nine squares, render all friendly offices to one another in their going out and coming in [i.e., death and birth], aid one another to safeguard life and property, and support one another in sickness." (Bk. iii., pt. i., c. iii., v. 18.)
Mencius also thus describes another sort of social insurance, already prevalent in those days: "In the spring they examined the ploughing and supplied any deficiency of seed; in the fall they examined the reaping and supplied any deficiency of yield." (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. iv., v. 5.)
Surely if such a system were now in vogue in China, effective and nation-wide, a famine would be unknown and indeed unthinkable!
Taxation, Innocent and Destructive. "If in the market-place, he levy a ground rent on the shops but do not tax the goods, or enforce proper regulations without levying a ground rent,then all the merchants of the empire will be pleased and will wish to have their goods in his marketplace. If at his frontier there be an inspection of persons but no import duties, all travellers throughout the empire will be pleased, and wish to make their tours on his roads." (Mencius, bk. ii., pt. i., c. v., v. 2, 3.)
Mencius, as in the foregoing, considered the question of the proper modes of levying taxes,
taking into account their effect upon those who are engaged in agriculture, in commerce, and in the trades. In his day, the question of the proper methods of taxation was evidently a live one, as in these days; and about the same issues arose in all essential particulars. The foregoing quotation from the Book of Mencius favours "ground rent," i.e., a tax upon the ground, itself, now known as the "single tax" as proposed by Henry George,or "proper regulations," by which is doubtless meant licenses for usebut not a tax on goods, i.e., upon personal property. Still less does he favour import duties.
The reasons which he gives for opposition to import duties were undoubtedly valid in China and as between the various states which compose the Chinese empire, as they would be against import duties of one state of the United States against other states. Especially in this day when, by reason of the marvellous improvement of means of communication and transportation, the world has grown so small, they may also seem valid, save in very exceptional circumstances, as regards the entire sisterhood of nations.
Mencius thus describes, in quite a "single tax" fashion, the origin of "ground rents" levied in order to appropriate to the community the value of a superior location: "In olden times in the market men exchanged their wares for the wares of others and merely had certain officers to keep order. It chanced there was a mean fellow who
made it a point to find a conspicuous mound and get upon it. Thence he commanded the right and the left, so as to draw into his net all the bargains of the market. All considered his conduct contemptible and so they proceeded to levy a tax upon his wares. The tax upon merchants thus sprang from this fellow's sordidness." (Bk. ii., pt. ii., c. x., v. 7.)
Mencius could find no excuse, however, for duties, whether internal or import, as the following conversation shows:
Tae Ying-che said, I am not able at present to get along at once with the tithes only and so to abolish the duties imposed at the ports of entry and in the markets. With your leave, however, I will reduce both these duties until next year and then will abolish them altogether. What do you think of such a course?
Mencius said, Here is a man who every day appropriates some of his neighbour's strayed fowls. Someone says to him: Such is not the way of a good man. He replies: With your leave, I will diminish my appropriations, and will take but one fowl per month until next year when I will make an end of the practice. If you know the thing to be wrong, hasten to get rid of it! Why wait until next year? (Bk. iii., pt. ii., c. viii.)
The system of levies upon the holders of cultivable land, which anciently obtained, is thus described by Mencius: "A square le covers nine squares of land which nine squares contain nine
hundred mow. The central square is the public field; and eight families, each having its private hundred mow, cultivate the public field in common; and not until this public work is done, dare they attend to tilling their own fields." (Bk. iii., pt. i., c. iii., v. 19.)
The change from this to a tithing or income tax system in the more populous districts is thus indicated: "I would ask you, in the remoter districts, observing the nine Squares division, to reserve one division to be cultivated on the system of mutual aid, and in the more central parts of the kingdom, to require the people to pay a tenth part of their produce." (Bk. iii., pt. i., c. iii., v. is.)
As has already been quoted in the section on "Nourishment of the People," Mencius regarded any system of taxation, based upon values, as of land or goods or both, regardless of the product, as destructive and in bad seasons even ruinous, resulting accordingly in the demoralization and pauperization of the people, while the tithe or income tax falls or rises with the ability to respond. This is also enforced by the following from the Book of Mencius: "Lung said, 'For regulating farms, there is no better system than that of mutual aid and none which is worse than that of taxing. By taxing, the amount to be paid regularly is fixed by taking the average of several years. In good years, when there is grain in abundance, much might be taken without its being oppressive, and the actual detriment would be small; but in
bad years, the produce not being sufficient to repay manuring the fields, the tax system requires taking the full amount.'" (Bk. iii., pt. i., c. iii., v. 7.)
Military Equipment. "To lead an uninstructed people to war, is to throw them away." (Analects, bk. xiii., c. xxx.)
Confucius scarcely referred to the subject of war, except in the matter of indicating methods by which both misunderstandings with the peoples of neighbouring states and revolts on the part of classes of the citizens may be avoided. This indicates the relatively peaceful conditions already obtaining there.
Yet the saying quoted above from the "Analects" seems full of insight and of prescience, when applied to the fate of the soldiers and marines of China and of Russia when at different times of late pitted against the trained and disciplined naval and military forces of Japan. May it not also be of some importance to another great people of a hundred million souls which leaves its free citizens without military training? Are the Russians and the Chinese the only fatuous people in the world?
It is also enforced by the sage as follows: "Let a good man teach the people seven years, and they may then be led to war." (Analects, bk. xiii., c. xxix.)
These texts must have been often in the minds of the people, since the catastrophes of the two
[paragraph continues] Japanese wars; and the long belated seven years preparation may now be fairly under way.
Confucius gave some notion of what he deemed the requisites of a great military leader in the following: "Tsze-loo said, 'If you had the conduct of the armies of a great state, whom would you have to act with you?' The Master said, 'I would not have him to act with me, who will unarmed attack a tiger or cross a river without a boat, dying without regret. My associate must be a man who proceeds to action full of solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans and then carries them into execution!' (Analects, bk. vii., c. x., v. 2, 3.)
Yet this people, whose great teacher gave so little attention to military subjects, notwithstanding that he ranked it as one of the three essentials of good government, is the only one among the great nations which has maintained real continuity for itself through thousands of years; and the great wall which it constructed to ward off northern invasions is quite the most remarkable line of defences ever constructed.
Mencius also advises this course, duly emphasizing the necessity for the spirit of patriotic devotion among the people, in these words: "If you will have me counsel you, there is one thing I can suggest. Dig deeper your moats; build higher your walls; guard them, you and your people. Be prepared to die if need be, and have the people so attached that they will not desert you!" (Bk. ii., pt. ii., c. xiii., v. 2.)
The great impropriety of maintaining military forces in order to overawe the people, as well as the utter want of need for such under a benevolent government, is plainly indicated by all of the teachings of the sage concerning government, yet quoted or to be quoted. Only the following need be cited: "Duke Hwan assembled all the princes together nine times and did not use weapons of war and chariots. This was through the influence of Kwan Chung. Whose beneficence was like his?" (Analects, bk. xiv., c. xvii., v. 2.)
The manner in which benevolent government knits all citizens into a united band of patriots, against whom no force, from within or without, can prevail, is thus described by Mencius: "With a territory which is only a hundred le square, it is possible to attain the Imperial dignity. If Your Majesty will give a benevolent government to your people, be sparing in punishments and fines and make the taxes and levies light, so causing fields to be ploughed deep and weeding to be carefully attended to and the strong-bodied, during their days of leisure, to cultivate filial piety, fraternal respectfulness, sincerity, truthfulness, serving thereby, at home, their fathers and elder brothers and, abroad, their elders and superiorsyou will then have a people who can be employed with sticks they have prepared, to oppose the strong mail and sharp weapons of the troops of Tsin and Tsoo.'" (Bk. i., pt. i., c. v., v. 2, 3.)
And with yet more enthusiastic eloquence he
celebrates the prowess of a united people under a leader whom all trust to the uttermost and their ability to overcome every foe and resist every assault, in this passage, condemning reliance upon mere strength of fortifications and armament: "With walls of great height, with moats of great depth, with arms, both of offence and defence, trenchant and mighty, with great stores of rice and other food, the city is surrendered and abandoned. This is because material advantages do not compensate for the absence of the spiritual union of men. Therefore is it said, 'A people is protected, not by bulwarks and ditches; a kingdom is safeguarded, not by rivers and mountains-an empire is conquered, not by the superiority of arms!'" (Bk. ii., pt. ii., c. i., v. 3, 4.)
Kingly Qualities. "What is most potent is to be a man. Its influence will be felt throughout the state." (Shi King, Sacrificial Odes of Kau, decade i., ode 4.)
Confucius makes these words of the "Shi King" more emphatic, when he says: "Let there be men and the government will flourish; but, without men, government decays and dies." (Doctrine of the Mean, c. xx., v. 2.)
And it is also remarked in "The Great Learning": "When the ruler excels as a father, a son, and a brother, then the people imitate him." (C. ix., v. 8.)
The same is put in illustrative form in this legend of China's dawn of history: "Shun, being in
possession of the empire, selected from among all the people and employed Kaou-yaou, on which all who were devoid of virtue disappeared." (Analects, bk. xii., c. xxii., v. 6.)
To Shun himself Confucius attributed that perfect poise which commanded because it was commanding and showered benefits because the king with all his heart desired the welfare of his people. Of him it is said in the "Analects": "May not Shun be instanced as having governed efficiently without exertion? What did he do? He did nothing but gravely and reverently occupy the imperial seat." (Analects, bk. xv., c. iv.)
In another passage a like majesty is ascribed also to Yu: "How majestic was the manner in which Shun and Yu held possession of the empire as if it were nothing to them!" (Analects, bk. viii., c. xviii.)
In the "Yi King" a much more detailed but somewhat extravagant description of the power of character in enforcing benevolent and beneficent rules of government is given, thus: "The Master said, 'The superior man occupies his apartment and sends forth his words. If they be good, they will be responded to at a distance of more than a thousand li; how much more will they be so in the nearer circle! He occupies his apartment and sends forth his words. If they be evil they will awaken opposition at a distance of more than a thousand li; how much more will they do
so in the nearer circle!'" (Appendix iii., sect. i., c. viii., v. 42.)
This subject comes abruptly out of the clouds to the level of practical, everyday life, however, when the following plain-spoken words from the lips of the sage are consulted in the "Analects":
"If a minister make his own conduct correct, what difficulty will he have about assisting in government? If he cannot rectify himself, what has he to do with rectifying others?" (Bk. xiii., c. xiii.)
Mencius paid his tribute to the power of virtue, as follows: "In the empire there are three things universally acknowledged to be honourable. Nobility is one of them, age is one of them, virtue is one of them. In courts nobility holds first place, in villages age, and for usefulness to one's generation and controlling the people, neither is equal to virtue." (Bk. ii., pt. ii., c. ii., v. 6.)
It is difficult, however, even for Confucius to avoid enthusiasm in the statement of this proposition to which he returns again and again, as thus: "He who exercises government by means of his virtue, may be compared to the north polar star which keeps its place and all the stars turn toward it." (Analects, bk. ii., c. i.)
In two other sayings, are presented different phases of this view: "When rulers love to observe the rules of propriety, the people respond readily to the calls upon them for service." (Analects, bk. xiv., c. xliv.) "The superior man does not
use rewards, yet the people are stimulated to virtue. He does not show wrath, yet the people are more awed than by hatchets and battle-axes." (Doctrine of the Mean, c. xxxiii., v. 4.)
Mencius also says: "When one subdues men by force, they do not submit to him in heart but because not strong enough to resist. When one subdues men by virtue, they are pleased to the heart's core and sincerely submit." (Bk. ii., pt. i., c. iii., v. 2.)
In the "Li Ki" the consequences upon the ruler and his government, of qualities opposite to these, are indicated by this significant question: "If his heart be not observant of righteousness, self-consecration, good faith, sincerity, and guilelessness, though a ruler may try to knit the people firmly to him, will not all bonds between them be dissolved?" (Bk. ii., sect. ii., pt. iii., 11.)
This picture is given by Confucius in the "Analects," of a worthy and successful ruler: "By his generosity, he won all. By his sincerity, he made the people repose trust in him. By his earnest activity, his achievements were great. By his justice, all were delighted." (Bk. xx., c. i., v. 9.)
I Yin, as quoted in the "Shu King," thus eloquently descants upon the earnest aspirations of another ruler: "The former king, before it was light, sought to have large and clear views and then sat waiting for the dawn to put them into practice." (Pt. iv., bk. v., 2.)
The Duke of Chin, according to the same book,
thus defined the qualities that characterize the great minister: "Let me have but one resolute minister, plain and sincere, without other ability but having a straightforward mind, and possessed of generosity, regarding the talents of others as if he possessed them himself, and when he finds accomplished and sage men, loving them in his heart more than his mouth expresses, really showing himself able to bear them; such a minister would be able to preserve my descendants and people and would indeed be a giver of benefits." (Pt. v., bk. xxx.)
Confucius himself, replying to the question of a disciple, gives an estimate of the most desirable qualifications for an officer of lower rank. It runs:
Tsze-kung asked, What qualities must a man possess to entitle him to be called an officer? The Master said, He who in his own conduct maintains a sense of shame and when sent to any quarter, will not disgrace his prince's commission, deserves to be called an officer.
Tsze-kung went on, I venture to ask who may be placed in the next lower rank, and was told, 'He whom the circle of his relatives pronounces filial, whom his fellow-villagers and neighbours pronounce fraternal.
He asked once more, I venture to ask about the class next in order. The Master said, They who are determined to be sincere in what they say and to carry out what they do. They are
obstinate little men. Yet perhaps they make the next class. (Analects, bk. xiii., c. xx., v. 1, 2, 3.)
Some of the qualities which are most valuable in a public officer Confucius named in commending a contemporary thus: "The Master said of Tsze-chan that he had four of the characteristics of a superior man: 'In his own conduct, he was humble; in serving his superiors, he was respectful; in providing for the people's support, he was kind; in ordering the people, he was just.'" (Analects, bk. v., c. xv.)
The following conversation drew from Confucius a distinct statement of what quality in a ruler is most essential, i.e., humility and a deep sense of responsibility, and what quality is most destructive, 1. e., a dictatorial, wrong-headed obstinacy, which brooks no advice, remonstrance, or opposition:
The Duke Ting asked whether there was a single sentence which could make a country prosperous. Confucius replied:
Such an effect cannot be expected from one sentence. There is a saying, however, which people have: To be a prince is difficult, to be a minister not easy. If a ruler know this, how difficult it is to be a prince, may there not be expected from this one sentence, that the country be made prosperous?
The duke then asked, Is there a single sentence which can ruin a country? Confucius replied:
Such an effect cannot be expected from one
sentence. There is a saying, however, which people have: I have no pleasure in being prince, except that no one offers opposition to what I say. If a ruler's words be good, is it not also good that no one oppose them? But if not good and no one opposes them, may there not be expected from this one sentence the ruin of the country? (Analects, bk. xiii., c. xv.)
That to die surrounded by the splendours of absolute sway does not assure, in the face of every evidence of misrule, that one has been successful, Confucius illustrates by this reference to Chinese history: "The Duke King of Tse had a thousand chariots, each drawn by four horses; but on the day of his death the people did not honour him for a single virtue. Pih-e and Shu-tse died of hunger at the foot of the Show-yang mountain, and yet the people honour them to this day." (Analects, bk. xvi., c. xii., v. 1.)
And this glowing and inviting prospect he discloses for the ruler of men who bases his claim upon propriety, righteousness, and good faith: "If a superior love propriety, the people will not dare not to be reverent. If he love righteousness, the people will not dare not to conform to his desires. If he love good faith, the people will not dare not to be sincere. When these things obtain, the people from all quarters will come to him, bearing their children on their backs." (Analects, bk. xiii., c. iv., v. 3.)
Power of Official Example. "The ruler must
first himself be possessed of the qualities which he requires of the people; and must be free from the qualities which he requires the people to abjure." (Great Learning, c. ix., v. 4.)
Thus Confucius emphasizes the most modern principle of "noblesse oblige"; nor does he leave it doubtful that what he means is that "example speaks louder than words," especially when he whose conduct is in question stands forth in all men's sight their chief and leader, for he is quoted by Mencius as saying: "What the superior man loves, his inferiors will be found to love exceedingly. The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend when the wind blows upon it." (Mencius, bk. iii., pt. i., c. ii., v. 4.)
In the "Li Ki" appears the following concerning the influence of the example set by the ruler; "The Master said, 'Inferiors, in serving those over them, do not follow what they command, but what they do. When a ruler loves a given thing, his subjects will do so, more than he. Therefore he who is in authority should be careful about what he likes and what he dislikes; for these will be examples in the eyes of the people.' (Li Ki, bk. xxx., 4.)
In the following, also from the "Li Ki," he connects it with the most powerful sanction for ethical conduct known to the Chinese, i.e., filial piety: "When a man who is over others transgresses in his words, the people will fashion their speech
accordingly; when he transgresses in his conduct, the people will imitate him as their model. If in his words he does not go beyond what should be said, nor in his acts beyond what should be done, then the people, without direction so to do, will revere and honour him. When this is so, he has respected himself; and having respected himself, he will have honoured his parents to the utmost." (Bk. xxiv., 13.)
"The Great Learning" thus derives both the safety and the peril of the state, in this regard, from the observation of filial and fraternal obligations within the family: "From the love within one family, the entire state may be made loving; from its courtesies, the entire state be made courteous; while from the ambition and perverseness of one man, the entire state may be led into rebellion; such is the power of example." (C. ix., v. 3.)
In the same book it is put thus: "In the Book of Poetry it is said: 'In his deportment there is nothing wrong; he rectifies all the people of the state.' When the ruler, as a father, a son, and a brother, is exemplary, the people will imitate him." (C. ix., v. 8.)
In the "Analects," Confucius has repeatedly announced this truth, as in these words: "When a prince's personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without the issuing of orders. When his personal conduct is not correct, he map issue orders but they will not be obeyed." (Bk. xiii., c. vi.)
One reason that so much greater potency inheres in what he who presides over the destiny of a people does, than in what he says or even commands, Confucius assigns in this saying: "The people may be made to follow a course of action, but they may not be made to understand it." (Analects, bk. viii., c. ix.)
And Confucius accentuates the lesson in this: "Though a man have abilities as admirable as those of the duke of Chow, yet if he be proud and niggardly, those other things are really not worth being looked at." (Analects, bk. viii., c. xi.)
Yet not too much, nor that too soon, must be expected even of the most brilliant and efficacious righteousness of the man in command, when for a long time disorder and demoralization have prevailed. In the "Analects" Confucius says of this: "If a truly royal ruler were to arrive, it would require a generation and then virtue would prevail." (Bk. xiii., c. xii.)
Yet he urged that the ruler rely upon the purity of his desire, his example, and persuasion of the people to love and practise what is good, rather than upon proscription and penalties; and he says: "If the people be led by laws and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment but have no sense of guilt. If they be led by virtue and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of guilt and moreover will become good." (Analects, bk. ii., c. iii.)
Again he inquires, most significantly: "In carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your desires be for what is good, and the people will be good." (Analects, bk. xii., c. xix.)
And in a like spirit he rebukes a prince who complained to him, thus: "Ke Kang Tze, distressed about the prevalence of thieves, inquired of Confucius how to suppress them. Confucius replied: 'If you yourself were not covetous, they would not steal, though you should offer a reward for stealing.'" (Analects, bk. xii., c. xviii.)
His disciple, Tsang Tze, thus imposes upon every man who occupies high station the obligation to guard his demeanour, deportment, speech, and conduct to the end that none of those who look up to him shall be corrupted thereby: "There are three principles of conduct which the man of high rank should consider specially important: that in his deportment and manner he keep from violence and heedlessness; that in regulating his countenance he keep near to sincerity; and that in word and tone he keep far from lowness and impropriety." (Analects, bk. viii., c. iv., v. 3.)
Upon the chief ruler of China, the leader and exemplar for all the people, this responsibility is so made to rest that, were it fully realized in actual government, every emperor would present the touching and edifying picture of an Abraham Lincoln, bending beneath the heavy burdens of the people whom he so loved and so served with
conscientious reverence. For these words the sage puts into the prayer of him whom imperial sway makes the servant of all his people: "If, in my own person, I commit offences, they are not to be attributed to you, ye people of the myriad regions. If ye in the myriad regions commit offences, the guilt must rest upon my head." (Analects, bk. xx., c. i., v. 3.)
Universal Education. "When the man of high station is well instructed, he loves men; when the man of low station is well instructed, he is easily ruled." (Analects, bk. xvii., c. iv., v. 3.)
Thus Confucius sets forth the necessity for general education of all classes of the people and the benefits in respect of government which flow from it. In another place, he says, even more significantly, of the levelling power of education: "There being instruction, there will be no distinction of classes." (Analects, bk. xv., c. xxxviii.)
This levelling extended also to those of the highest rank and beyond school-days into official life, determining the fitness and title to public office. Thus the "Hsun Tse" (bk. ix.) says of this: "Even among the sons of the emperor, the princes, and the great officials, if they were not qualified to rites and justice, they should be put down to the class of common people; even among the sons of the common people, if they have good education and character and are qualified to rites and justice, they should be elevated to the class of minister. and nobles."
According to the "Li Ching," the education of the child commences with its conception, and accordingly explicit instructions are given to secure proper prenatal influences and ward off evil influences. The instructions are as to physical, mental, and moral conduct of the mother during gestation, with the direct object of producing a strong, intelligent, and moral human being.
The value and potency of education are set forth in the same work (bk. xlviii.) as follows: "When a child is trained completely, his education is just as strong as his nature; and when he practises anything constantly, he will do it naturally as a permanent habit."
Mencius made the following sage and practical remark concerning another aspect of the relation of education to government: "Good government is feared by the people, while good instruction is loved by them. Good government gets the people's wealth, while good instruction wins their hearts." (Bk. vii., pt. i., c. xiv., v. 3.)
In this, of course the expression "good government" means much the same as in modern politics, i.e., "business men's government," bent upon securing order and economy only, but often utterly disregarding the desires and even the essential well-being of the lowly and oppressed. Real "good government" necessarily includes instruction; and that Mencius fully understood this, the following penetrating remark from his book fully substantiates: "Men possess a moral nature; but
if they are well fed, warmly clad, and comfortably lodged, without at the same time being instructed, they become like unto beasts." (Bk. iii., pt. i., c. iv., v. 8.)
This principle, that education is the great and constant need of all minds and most especially of the mind of him who would lead others, Mencius also applied remorselessly to the princes of his day, as a paramount duty resting upon them, in this passage: "Now, throughout the empire, the jurisdictions of the princes are of equal extent and none excels his fellows in achievement. Not one is able to go beyond the others. This is from no other reason than that they love to make ministers of those whom they teach rather than to make ministers of those by whom they might themselves be taught." (Bk. ii., pt. ii., c. ii., v. 9.)
And to the burden of this responsibility, i.e., at all times to be earnestly and humbly seeking instruction themselves, he thus added the duty of providing for the education of the people, coupled with the promise of such fulfilment of ambitions as naturally flows from excellence in the performance of obligations already assumed: "Let careful attention be paid to education in schools, inculcating in it especially the filial and fraternal duties, and grey-haired men will not be seen upon the roads, bearing burdens on their backs or on their heads. It never has been that the ruler of a state where such results were seen, persons of seventy wearing silks and eating flesh
and the black-haired people suffering neither from hunger nor colddid not attain to the Imperial dignity." (Mencius, bk. i., pt. i., c. iii., v. 4.)
That these were not intended as mere platitudes is shown, not merely by the result that in China for thousands of years education has been the test, on a strictly competitive basis, without regard to wealth, social position, and influence of forbears, by which political preferment has been determined; but also by the strictly practical statements concerning popular instruction, such as this from the "Li Ki": "If he wish to transform the people and to perfect their manners and customs, must he not start with the lessons of the school?" (Bk. xvi., 1.)
The established public means of education are thus described in the same book: "According to the system of ancient teaching, for the families of a hamlet (25) there was the village school; for a neighbourhood (500 families) there was the academy; for a larger district (2500 families), the college; and in the capitals, a university." (Bk. xvi., 4.)
That there may be no question that the competitive examination was already the essential for political appointment or advancement, this is also quoted from the "Li Ki": "Every year some entered the college and every second year there was a competitive examination." (Bk. xvi., 5.)
The accepted and approved purpose of instruction, as laid down in the "Li Ki," is also most
progressive and may to advantage, perhaps, be contrasted with the insistence, now happily subsiding, in Occidental nations that "the three R's," i.e., reading, writing, and arithmetic, if indeed so much as that, are quite sufficient and all that, or more than, the government should concern itself to secure for the people. This passage illustrates the view in China, even before Confucius came to instruct his people for all time: "Teaching should be directed to develop that in which the pupil excels, and correct the defects to which he is prone." (Li Ki, bk. xvi., 14.)
Modern courses in psychology for the instruction of teachers were anticipated also in the olden times, centuries before the Christian era; and the whole matter had been clearly and discriminatingly put, as in this from the "Li Ki": "Among pupils there are four defects with which the teacher must make himself acquainted. Some err by assuming too many branches of study; some, too few; some in over-facility; some, in want of persistence. These four defects arise from the differences of their minds. When the teacher understands the character of his pupil's mind, he can rescue him from the fault to which he is prone." (Bk. xvi., 14.)
It is also said upon this interesting topic: "When a man of talents and virtue understands the stupidity of one pupil and the precocity of another in the attainment of knowledge and also comprehends the good and bad qualities of his
pupils, he can vary his methods of teaching accordingly. When he can vary his methods of teaching, he is indeed a master. When so fitted to be a teacher, he is qualified for administrative office; and when so qualified for administrative office, he is even fitted to be chosen as ruler of the state. Therefore is it that from a teacher one learns how to be a ruler; and therefore that in the choice of a teacher the greatest care should be exercised. As it is said in the History: 'The three kings and the four dynasties were what they were, by reason of their teachers.'" (Li Ki, bk. xvi., 16.)
This also, from the same source, bears upon the psychology of the problem of teaching and also shows that the true meaning of "to educate" was already apprehended: "When a superior man knows the causes which make instruction successful and those which make it of no effect, he can become a teacher of others. Thus, in his teaching, he draws out and does not merely carry along; he encourages and does not discourage; he opens up the subject but does not exhaust it, leaving the student nothing to do. Drawing out and not merely dragging along produces concert of effort. Encouraging and not restraining makes it easy to go forward. Opening up the subject and not exhausting it forces the student himself to think. He who brings about this concert of action, this ready advancement, and this independent initiative of thought may be pronounced a skilful teacher." (Bk. xvi., 13.)
Confucius, in the "Analects," twice gives expression to the same fundamental principle: "With one like Tsze, I can commence talking about the Odes. I told him one point and he knew its proper sequence." (Bk. vii., c. viii.) "I do not open up the truth to one who is not eager for knowledge, nor help out any one who is not himself anxious to explore causes. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one and he cannot learn from it the other three, I do not repeat my lesson." (Bk. xii., c. viii.)
In its entirety this was a course necessary for Confucius with his great work to do, but scarcely practicable for all teachers for the reason that all must be instructed, whether bright or dull, whether studious or indolent; the sage's impatience with sluggishness and dulness, the ordinary teacher could not imitate, except by utterly destroying his usefulness. In consequence, therefore, the sage nowhere recommends such procedure to teachers, whether of the young or of the mature.
In the "Li Ki," the correct view of this aspect of teaching is thus set forth with considerable fulness: "The skilful student, though his teacher seems indifferent, yet attains double as much as another and in the sequel ascribes the credit to his teacher. The unskilful, though his teacher be diligent with him, makes but half the progress and in the sequel blames his teacher. The skilful inquirer is like a workman addressing himself to deal with a hard log: first he attacks the easy parts
and then the knotty. After applying himself a good while, he talks with his teacher and all is plain. The unskilful does the contrary." (Bk. xvi., 18.)
The popular impression among Occidental peoplesso far as they have any impressionconcerning the instruction of Chinese children is well illustrated by what the "Li Ki" condemns in this passage: "Under the system of instruction now in use the teachers hum over the tablets which they have before them and ask many questions. They then speak of their pupils making rapid progress but pay no attention to whether they retain what they have been taught. They are not earnest in imposing burdens upon their pupils nor do they put forth all their power to instruct them. The habits they thus cause the pupils to form are not good and the students are disappointed about attaining what they seek. Accordingly, they find their studies onerous and despise their teachers; they are embittered by the difficulties they encounter and realize but poor results of their toil. They may appear to do their work but they quickly lose what they acquire. That there are no stable results of their instruction, is it not due to these defects in their teacher?" (Bk. xvi., 10.)
That the good teacher is to be regarded as an important member of the community and must be treated with respect and veneration, in order that he may best perform his useful function, is
inculcated also in the "Li Ki" in these terms: "In providing a system of education, one trouble is to secure proper respect for the teacher; when such is assured, what he teaches will also be regarded with respect; when that is done, the people will know how to respect learning. Therefore is it that there are two of his subjects whom the ruler does not treat as such: him who is personating his ancestor at the sacrifice, he does not so treat, nor yet his own teacher." (Bk. xvi., 17.)
The same book names the following as the objects to be sought in education: "In all learning, for him who would be an officer, the first thing is the knowledge of business; for scholars, the first thing is the directing of the mind." (Bk. xvi., 6.)
And it thus urges the desirability of class-work, as affording abundant opportunity for companionship, a just estimate of one's acquirements and true culture: "To study alone and without friends makes one feel solitary, uncultivated, and but little informed." (Bk. xvi., 12.)
In the same book, this brief description of the method of Confucius is to be found: "The Master taught them by means of current events; and made them understand what was virtuous." (Bk. vi., sect. i., 17.)
The following are a few of the passages in the "Analects," some of which have already been quoted in other connections, that shed light upon the methods of teaching followed by Confucius and the subjects which he taught:
"The subjects on which the Master did not talk were extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings." (Bk. vii., c. xx.)
"There are four things which the Master taught: letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness." (Bk. vii., c. xxiv.)
"The Master said, 'Hwuy gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight.'" (Bk. xi., c. iii.)
"The Master said, To those whose talents are above mediocrity the highest subjects may be announced. To those who are below mediocrity the highest subjects may not be announced.' (Bk. vi., c. xvii.)
"There was Yen Hwuy; he loved to learn. He did not transfer his anger; he did not repeat a fault." (Bk. vi., c. ii.)
"I have talked with Hwuy for a whole day and he has not made any objectionquite as if he were stupid. He has retired and I have examined his conduct while out of my sight and found him able to illustrate my teaching. Hwuy? He is not stupid." (Bk. ii., c. ix.)
"The Master said to Tsze-Kung, 'Which do you consider superior, yourself or Hwuy?' Tsze-Kung replied, 'How dare I compare myself with Hwuy? Hwuy hears one point and understands the whole subject; I hear one point and understand the next.' The Master said, 'You are not equal to him. I grant you, you are not equal to him.' (Bk. v., c. viii.)
"The Master's frequent themes of discourse were the Odes, the History, and the observance of the rules of propriety. On all these he frequently discoursed." (Bk. vii., c. xvii.)
The importance and indeed the necessity of popular education Confucius often dwelt upon, placing it next after mere physical sustenance for the people, as in this passage:
When the Master went to Wei, Yen Yew acted as driver of his carriage.
The Master observed, How numerous are the people!
Yew said, Since they are thus numerous, what more shall be done for them? Make them prosperous was the reply.
And when they are prosperous, what then shall be done?' The Master said, Instruct them. (Analects, bk. xiii., c. ix.)
Law and Order. "The Duke King, of Tse, asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied, 'It is when the prince is prince, the minister is minister, the father is father, the son is son.'" (Analects, bk. xii., c. xi.)
Thus Confucius in the "Analects" enjoins the necessity for order in the state. Both the things requisite for the maintenance of good order and the conditions that lead to disorder, he thus describes in another place: "When good government prevails in the empire, ceremonies, music, and punitive military expeditions proceed from the emperor. When bad government prevails in
the empire, ceremonies, music, and punitive expeditions proceed from the princes. When they proceed from the princes, as a rule the cases will be few in which they do not lose their power in ten generations. When they proceed from the great officers of the princes, as a rule the cases will be few in which they do not lose their power in five generations. When the subsidiary ministers of the great officers hold in their grasp the orders of the kingdom, as a rule the cases will be few in which they do not lose their power in three generations." (Analects, bk. xvi., c. ii., v. 1.)
The peril to the state within which, in the words of the English poet, "wealth accumulates and men decay" was vividly present in the sage's mind, as this saying from the "Li Ki" abundantly witnesses: "The Master said, 'Under heaven the cases are few in which the poor have enjoyment, the rich love the rules of propriety, and families that are powerful remain quiet and orderly.'" (Bk. xxvii., c. iii.)
In the "Shu King," the following declaration of King Khang is to be found: "Families which have for generations enjoyed places of emolument seldom observe the rules of propriety." (Pt. v., bk. xxiv., 3.)
And, also in the "Shu King," the Duke of Kau is represented as saying of the evil effects sometimes witnessed, when even a moderate amount of unearned wealth passes to untutored youth: "I have observed among the lower people that,
where the parents have diligently laboured in sowing and reaping, their sons often do not understand this painful toil, but abandon themselves to ease and to village slang and become quite disorderly." (Pt. v., bk. xv., 1.)
King Wu, however, one of the almost mythical monarchs and heroes of the earlier period of Chinese history, yet more powerfully portrays in the same book the depths to which disorder and demoralization may descend: "All who themselves commit crimes, robbing, stealing, practising villainy and treachery, and who kill men or violently assault them to take their property, being reckless and defiant of deaththese are abhorred by all." (Pt. v., bk. ix., 3.)
The course of one who restored order in the kingdom was thus warmly commended by Confucius in the "Analects": "He carefully attended to the weights and measures, examined the body of the laws, restored those who had been unjustly removed from office; and the good government of the empire took its course." (Bk. xx., c. i., v. 6.)
The duty of care in the selection of administrative officers is particularly enjoined by him as in the following: "Employ first the services of your various officers, pardon small faults, and raise to office men of virtue and talents. Chung-kung said, 'How shall I know the men of virtue and talents, so that I may raise them to office?' He was answered, 'Raise to office those whom you
know. As to those whom you do not know, will others neglect them?'" (Analects, bk. xiii., c. ii., v. 2.)
This is the sage's characterization of the course of a wise king in the selection and discharge of officers: "He does not cause the great ministers to repine at his not employing them. Without some great cause, he does not dismiss from their offices the members of old families. He does not seek in one man talents for every employment." (Analects, bk. xviii., c. x.)
Due consideration of whether one's friends and even, indeed especially, one's relatives may not be fit for office, is not discouraged but instead insisted upon in the same passage: "The Duke of Chow addressed his son, the Duke of Loo, saying, 'The virtuous prince does not neglect his relatives.'" (Analects, bk. xviii., c. x.)
In favour of this course, he urges the following arguments: "When those who are in high stations perform well their duties to their relatives, the people are aroused to virtue. When old friends are not neglected by them, the people are preserved from meanness." (Analects, bk. viii., c. ii., v. 2.)
The acceptance of office for "what there is in it" or otherwise than as a sacred trust, he thus denounces: "Heen asked what is shameful. The Master said, 'When good government prevails in a state, to be thinking only of one's salary; and when bad government prevails, to be thinking,
in the same way, only of one's salary. This is shameful.'" (Analects, bk. xiv., c. i.)
In the "Li Ki," Confucius is quoted as saying that it is safer and better in every way to wait until a man's death to confer any special honour upon him, thus: "The Master said, 'When honours and rewards are first conferred upon the dead and afterward upon the living, people will not depart from the course of the honoured dead."' (Bk. xxvii., 10.)
That both the ruler and his ministers are subject to and should be governed by the elemental principles of right and wrong, which are of universal obligation, he here affirms: "A prince should employ his ministers according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness." (Analects, bk. iii., c. xix.)
In the "Li Ki," this caution to ministers and public officers is given: "Affairs of state should not be privately discussed." (Bk. i., sect. iii., pt. i.)
In the "Shu King" are found these instructions, among others, for the judges of the criminal courts: "It is not persons with crafty tongues who should try criminal cases, but persons who are really good, whose judgments will exemplify the due mean. Watch carefully for discrepancies in statements; the view you intended not to adopt, you may find reason to adopt. With pity and reverence determine the issues; painstakingly consult the penal code; give ear to all respecting
the matterto the end that your judgment may exemplify the due mean, whether in imposing a fine or another punishment, by careful investigation and the solution of every difficulty. When the trial has such an event, all will acknowledge that the judgment is just; and so likewise will the sovereign do, when the report reaches him." (Pt. v., bk. xxvii., 5.)
The same book lays down this discriminating fundamental for the administration of justice, recognizing that criminality consists in intent: "You pardon inadvertent faults, however great; and punish purposed crimes, however small." (Pt. ii., bk. ii., 2.)
Another passage of this ancient book asserts in words ascribed to Kau-Yau, speaking to Shun, a maxim of criminal justice which many suppose to be peculiar to its administration in Anglo-Saxon countries: "Rather than put an innocent person to death, you will run the risk of irregularity and error." (Pt. ii., bk. ii., 2.)
In the "Li Ki," the following passage describes the emoluments of public officers, indicating the use of "standards of value" much less subject to fluctuation than the precious metals: "The officers of the lowest grade in the feudal states received salary sufficient to feed nine individuals; those of the second grade, enough to feed eighteen; and those of the highest, enough for thirty-six. A great officer could feed 72 individuals, a minister 288, and the ruler 2880. In a state of the second
class, a minister could feed 216, and the ruler 2160. A minister of a small state could feed 44. individuals and the ruler 1440." (Bk. iii., sect. v., 24.)
There were also restrictions in those days upon the military defence and equipment of states and cities, intended to keep down the spirit of domination and to avoid revolt. The "Li Ki" thus describes these laws: "Hence it was made the rule that no state should have more than 1000 chariots, no chief city's wall more than 100 embrasures, no family more than 100 chariots, however opulent. These regulations were intended for the protection of the people; yet some of the governors of states rebelled against them." (Bk. xxvii., 3.)
The foregoing are some of the more important of the things which Confucius and the ancients before him deemed prerequisite to the maintenance of good order throughout the nation. The breadth and depth of statesmanship required are even better set forth in this saying of Confucius: "The superior man governs men according to their nature, with what is proper to them." (Doctrine of the Mean, c. xiii., v. 21.)
With greater circumstantiality, yet in a very brief compass, he sets forth the prerequisites anew in this sentence: "To rule a country of a thousand chariots, there must be reverent attention to business, and sincerity; economy in expenditure, and love for men; and the employment of the people at the proper seasons." (Analects, bk. i., c. v.)
The course of wisdom when there is not good government, he marks out as follows: "When good government prevails in a state, language may be lofty and bold, and actions the same. When bad government prevails, the actions may be lofty and bold, but the language may be with some reserve." (Analects, bk. xiv., c. iv.)
The manner in which a state may crumble ands decay and therefore succumb to superior force and pass away, Mencius thus describes: "A man must first despise himself and then others will despise him. A family must first destroy itself and then others will destroy it. A kingdom must first strike down itself and then others will strike it down." (Bk. iv., pt. i., c. viii., v. 4.)
Duty Respecting Acceptance of Office. "When right principles of government prevail in the empire, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he will keep retired." (Analects, bk. viii., c. xiii., v. 2.)
In the "Analects," Confucius thus described the duty of the superior man as regards accepting office and retiring from it. The following, to like effect, is attributed, in the "Analects," to Tsze-chang: "The minister, Tsze-wan, thrice took office and manifested no joy in his countenance. Thrice he retired from office and manifested no displeasure. He made it a point to inform the new minister of the way in which he had conducted the government." (Bk. v., c. xviii., v. I.)
Confucius again gave voice to the same sentiment
in this: "When good government prevails in the state, he is to be found in office. When bad government prevails, he can roll his principles up and keep them in his breast." (Analects, bk. xv., c. xi., v. 2.)
Indeed, he proclaimed it the part of a wise and prudent man to quit a badly governed state forthwith: "Such an one will not enter a tottering state nor dwell in a disorganized one." (Analects, bk. viii., c. xiii., v. 2.)
Yet he quoted with warm approval the following reply of Hwuy, when reproved for remaining in a state which had dismissed him for acting the part of a righteous judge: "Hwuy of Lew-hea, being chief criminal judge, was thrice dismissed from office. Someone said to him, 'Is it not time for you, sir, to quit the country?' He replied, 'Serving men in an upright way, where shall I go and not experience such a thrice-repeated dismissal? If I chose to serve men in a crooked way, what need would there be that I leave the country of my parents?'" (Analects, bk. xviii., c. ii.)
The border-warden at E, having interviewed Confucius after the latter had been deprived of office, announced: "My friends, why are you distressed by your Master's loss of office? The empire has long been without principles; Heaven is going to use your Master as a wooden-tongued bell." (Analects, bk. iii., c. xxiv.)
Confucius, however, held it to be no part of the duty of an officer who has been discharged, to air
his grievances and criticize his successor, as witness these words, spoken to Yen Yuen: "The Master said to Yen Yuen, 'When called to office, to undertake its duties; when not so called, to lie retired,it is only I and you who have attained to this!'" (Analects, bk. vii., c. x., v. i.)
And at another time he spoke even more to the point in this fashion: "He who is not in a particular office has nothing to do with the plan for the administration of its duties." (Analects, bk. viii., c. xiv.)
Acceptance of retirement from office, absolute acquiescence in it, even warm welcome of it and refusal to accept even the most exalted official station were warmly commended, as in this: "The Master said, 'Tao-pih may be said to have reached the highest point in virtuous action. Thrice he declined the empire, and the people could not express their approbation of his conduct.'" (Analects, bk. viii., c. i.)
Yet service and even ambition to be called to public service were recommended to his disciples, as in this: "When you are living in any state, take service with the most worthy among its great officers and make friends with the most virtuous among its scholars." (Analects, bk. xv., c. ix.)
And his disciple, Tsze-Loo, holds that, when called to office and conscious of ability to render valuable service, the superior man is obliged to respond, albeit both against his inclination and against his judgment, in that the conditions will
not permit thorough reform: "Not to take office is wrong. If the relations between old and young may not be neglected, how is it that he sets aside the duties that should be observed between the sovereign and the minister? Wishing to maintain his personal purity, he allows that great relation to come to confusion. A superior man takes office and performs the righteous duties belonging to it. As to the failure of right principles to make progress, he is aware of that." (Analects, bk. xviii., c. vii., v. 5.)
Government Is by the Consent of the Governed. " By winning the people, the kingdom is won; by losing the people, the kingdom is lost." (Great Learning, c. x., v. 5.)
This statement taken from "The Great Learning" is characteristic of the view of Confucius concerning government. It was already old in his time, however; for in the "Shu King," the following is quoted among the most ancient "Cautions of the Great Yu": "The people are the root of a country." (Pt. iii., bk. iii.)
And in the same book, the great ruler, Shun, is reported as saying: "Of all who are to be feared, are not the people the chief?" (Pt. ii., bk. ii., 2.)
Mencius gives much fuller and more detailed expression to the view in this passage: "That Kee and Chow lost the empire arose from their losing the people; to lose the people means to lose their hearts. There is a way to get the empireget the people and it is yours. There is a way to
get the peoplewin their hearts and they are yours. There is a way to win their heartssimply procure for them what they like and lay not upon them what they do not like. The people turn to a benevolent government as water flows down hill and as wild beasts flee to the wilderness." (Bk. iv., pt. i., c. ix., v. 1, 2.)
The following concerning the truly royal ruler is quoted in "The Great Learning": "When he loves what the people love and hates what the people hate, then is a ruler what is called the parent of his people." (C. x., v. 3.)
That the sage did not mean thereby to commend the acts of the demagogue, which are also vain, Mencius indicates in this brief saying: "If a governor will please everyone, he will find the days not sufficient." (Bk. iv., pt. ii., c. ii., v. 5.)
Yet to King Hwuy, of Leang, he thus presents the reward for protecting and serving the people: "Those rulers, as it were, drive their people into pitfalls and drown them. Your Majesty will go to punish them. In such a case, who will oppose Your Majesty?" (Bk. i., pt. i., c. v., v. 5.)
Chêng Tang, in the "Shu King," thus attributes all wisdom to the people and invariable correctness to their deliberate choice: "The great God has conferred on the common people a moral sense, compliance with which would show their nature invariably right." (Pt. iv., bk. iii., 2.)
In the "Shi King" the same view is expressed in these words: "Heaven, in giving birth to the
multitude of the people, to every faculty and relationship annexed its law. The people possess this normal nature, and they love normal virtue." (Major Odes, ode 6, decade iii.)
And in the "Shu King" I Yin expatiates upon it more at length as follows: "There is no invariable model of virtue; a supreme regard for what is good makes a model for it. There is no invariable characteristic of what is good that is to be supremely regarded; it is found where there is a conformity with the common consciousness as to what is good." (Pt. iv., bk. vi., 3.)
Mencius unhesitatingly applied this in the most democratic manner, as in this: "If the people of Yen will be pleased at your taking possession of it, do so. Among the ancients one acted upon this principle, King Wu. If the people of Yen will not be pleased at your taking possession of it, do not do so. Among the ancients one acted upon this principle, King Wan." (Bk. i., pt. i., c. x., v. 3.)
But he does not content himself merely with citing precedents in the conduct of the half-mythical fathers; instead, as in his conversation with King Seang, of Leang, he boldly affirmed the fundamental principle that the people are the sole source of power:
How can the empire be settled?
It will be settled by being united under one sway.
Who can so unite it?
He who has no pleasure in killing men can so unite it.
Who can give it to him?
All the people of the empire will unanimously give it to him. (Mencius, bk. i., c. vi., v. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.)
That merit produces the confidence of the people in their ruler and thereby secures for him his throne, Mencius asserts in this conversation, which has come down to us:
Wan Chang asked, Is it true that Yaou gave the empire to Shun?
Mencius answered: No. The emperor cannot give the empire to another.
Yes, but Shun got the empire. Who gave it to him?
Heaven gave it to him.
Heaven gave it to him? Did Heaven confer this appointment upon him in express terms?
No. No. Heaven does not speak. It simply showed its will by his personal behaviour and his management of affairs. (Bk. v., pt. i., c. v., v. 1, 2, 3, 4.)
The divine right of kings he did not deny; instead he proclaimed it, but only with this explanation, taken from an ancient source: "This sentiment is expressed in the words of the Great Declaration: 'Heaven sees as my people see; Heaven hears as my people hear.'" (Bk. v., pt i., c. v., v. 8.)
In the "Li Ki," it is even related that in earlier
days all was democratic, thus: "There was nowhere such a thing as being born noble. . . . Anciently, there was no rank in birth and no honorary title after death." (Bk. ix., sect. iii., 5.)
In the same book, the existence of a hereditary monarchy is deplored as a sign of degeneration, in these words: "Now that the Grand Course has fallen into disuse and obscurity, the kingdom is a family inheritance." (Bk. vii., sect. i., 3.)
The Right to Depose the Ruler. "Tsze-loo asked how a sovereign should be served. The Master said: 'Do not impose on him, and, moreover, withstand him to his face.'" (Analects, bk. xiv., c. xxiii.)
In another place in the "Analects," however, the disciple, Tsze-hea, explains the requisite foundation for such boldness of conduct, thus: "Having obtained the confidence of his prince, he may then remonstrate with him. If he have not gained his confidence, the prince will think that he is vilifying him." (Bk. xix., c. x.)
Mencius thus characterizes this friendly, though perilous action: "It was then that the Che-shaou and Keo-shaou were made, in the poetry of which it was said: 'What blame is there for restraining one's prince? He who restrains his prince is his friend.'" (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. iv., v. 10.)
In the "Li Ki" this duty of the minister is yet more circumstantially described, as follows: "One in the position of a minister and inferior might remonstrate with his ruler, but not speak ill of
him; might withdraw but not remain and hate; might praise but not flatter; might remonstrate but not give himself haughty airs when his advice is followed. If the ruler were idle and indifferent, he might arouse and assist him; if the government were going to wreck, he might sweep it away and institute a new one." (Bk. xv., 21.)
Neither Confucius nor Mencius avoided this duty of protest and of rebuke. The following from Mencius is an instance:
Suppose the chief criminal judge could not regulate the officers; how would you deal with him?
The king said: Dismiss him.
If within the four borders of your kingdom there is not good government, what is to be done?
The king looked to the right and left, and spoke of other matters. (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. vi., v. 2, 3.)
Yet in the "Analects" this is found, by way of warning: "Tsze-Yew said: 'In serving one's prince, frequent remonstrances lead to disgrace.'" (Bk. iv., c. xxvi.)
The estimate which the people, however, place upon the contrary course is well set forth in this: "The Master said: "The full observance of the rules of propriety in serving one's prince [i.e., by himself, Confucius] is accounted by the people to be flattery.'" (Analects, bk. iii., c. xviii.)
Confucius offers this counsel to the great minister who finds his mild persuasion and counsel rejected: "What is called a great minister is one
who serves his prince according to what is right, and when he finds he cannot do so, retires." (Analects, bk. xi., c. xxiii., v. 3.)
Mencius advises a more Spartan course on the part of a monarch's relatives if he proves impracticable, thus:
The king said: I beg to ask about the chief ministers who are noble and related to the prince.'
Mencius answered: If the prince have 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 depose him. (Bk. v., pt. ii., c. ix., v. I.)
Mencius thus justified even regicide, when the circumstances call for it:
King Seuen of Tse asked: "Is it true that Tang banished Kee and that King Wu slew Chow? Mencius replied: 'History tells us so.'
The king asked: May a minister put his sovereign to death?
Mencius said; He who outrages benevolence is called a robber; he who outrages righteousness, is called a ruffian. The robber and ruffian we call a mere fellow. I have heard of the execution of the fellow, Chow, but I have not so heard of one's sovereign being put to death. (Bk. i., pt. ii., c. viii.)