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Mencius. Book V: Wan Chang. Part I. Chapter VII.

Legge's summary: Vindication of Î Yin from the charge of introducing himself to the service of T'ang by an unworthy artifice.

1. Wan Chang asked Mencius, saying, 'People say that Î Yin sought an introduction to T'ang by his knowledge of cookery. Was it so?'

2. Mencius replied, 'No, it was not so. Î Yin was a farmer in the lands of the prince of Hsin, delighting in the principles of Yâo and Shun. In any matter contrary to the righteousness which they prescribed, or contrary to their principles, though he had been offered the throne, he would not have regarded it; though there had been yoked for him a thousand teams of horses, he would not have looked at them. In any matter contrary to the righteousness which they prescribed, or contrary to their principles, he would neither have given nor taken a single straw.

3. 'T'ang sent persons with presents of silk to entreat him to enter his service. With an air of indifference and self-satisfaction he said, "What can I do with those silks with which T'ang invites me? Is it not best for me to abide in the channelled fields, and so delight myself with the principles of Yâo and Shun?"

4. 'T'ang thrice sent messengers to invite him. After this, with the change of resolution displayed in his countenance, he spoke in a different style,-- "Instead of abiding in the channelled fields and thereby delighting myself with the principles of Yâo and Shun, had I not better make this prince a prince like Yâo or Shun, and this people like the people of Yâo or Shun ? Had I not better in my own person see these things for myself?

5. '"Heaven's plan in the production of mankind is this:-- that they who are first informed should instruct those who are later in being informed, and they who first apprehend principles should instruct those who are slower to do so. I am one of Heaven's people who have first apprehended;-- I will take these principles and instruct this people in them. If I do not instruct them, who will do so?"

6. 'He thought that among all the people of the kingdom, even the private men and women, if there were any who did not enjoy such benefits as Yâo and Shun conferred, it was as if he himself pushed them into a ditch. He took upon himself the heavy charge of the kingdom in this way, and therefore he went to T'ang, and pressed upon him the subject of attacking Hsiâ and saving the people.

7. 'I have not heard of one who bent himself, and at the same time made others straight;-- how much less could one disgrace himself, and thereby rectify the whole kingdom? The actions of the sages have been different. Some have kept remote from court, and some have drawn near to it; some have left their offices, and some have not done so:-- that to which those different courses all agree is simply the keeping of their persons pure.

8. 'I have heard that Î Yin sought an introduction to T'ang by the doctrines of Yâo and Shun. I have not heard that he did so by his knowledge of cookery.

9. 'In the "Instructions of Î," it is said, "Heaven destroying Chieh commenced attacking him in the palace of Mû. I commenced in Po."'


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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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