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Mencius. Book V: Wan Chang. Part II. Chapter V.

Legge's summary: How office may be taken on account of poverty, but only on certain conditions.

1. Mencius said, 'Office is not sought on account of poverty, yet there are times when one seeks office on that account. Marriage is not entered into for the sake of being attended to by the wife, yet there are times when one marries on that account.

2. 'He who takes office on account of his poverty must decline an honourable situation and occupy a low one; he must decline riches and prefer to be poor.

3. 'What office will be in harmony with this declining an honourable situation and occupying a low one, this declining riches and preferring to be poor? Such an one as that of guarding the gates, or beating the watchman's stick.

4. 'Confucius was once keeper of stores, and he then said, "My calculations must be all right. That is all I have to care about." He was once in charge of the public fields, and he then said, "The oxen and sheep must be fat and strong, and superior. That is all I have to care about."

5. 'When one is in a low situation, to speak of high matters is a crime. When a scholar stands in a prince's court, and his principles are not carried into practice, it is a shame to him.'


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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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