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Mencius. Book IV: Lî Lâu. Part I. Chapter II.

Legge's summary: A continuation of the last chapter;-- that Yâo and Shun are the perfect models of sovereigns and ministers, and the consequences of not imitating them.

1. Mencius said, 'The compass and square produce perfect circles and squares. By the sages, the human relations are perfectly exhibited.

2. 'He who as a sovereign would perfectly discharge the duties of a sovereign, and he who as a minister would perfectly discharge the duties of a minister, have only to imitate-- the one Yâo, and the other Shun. He who does not serve his sovereign as Shun served Yâo, does not respect his sovereign; and he who does not rule his people as Yâo ruled his, injures his people.

3. 'Confucius said, "There are but two courses, which can be pursued, that of virtue and its opposite."

4. 'A ruler who carries the oppression of his people to the highest pitch, will himself be slain, and his kingdom will perish. If one stop short of the highest pitch, his life will notwithstanding be in danger, and his kingdom will be weakened. He will be styled "The Dark," or "The Cruel," and though he may have filial sons and affectionate grandsons, they will not be able in a hundred generations to change the designation.

5. 'This is what is intended in the words of the Book of Poetry,

"The beacon of Yin is not remote,

It is in the time of the (last) sovereign of Hsiâ."'


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Translated by James Legge, published in 1861 and revised for publication in 1895. Prepared as etext by Stephen R. McIntyre. Noded by schist. Please msg schist if you have suggestions for useful hard-links.

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