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《错法 - Establishing Laws》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?] Library Resources
1 错法:
Establishing Laws:
I have heard that when the intelligent princes of antiquity established laws, the people were not wicked; when they undertook an enterprise, the required ability was practised spontaneously; when they distributed rewards, the army was strong. These three principles were the root of government. Indeed, why people were not wicked, when laws were established, was because the laws were clear and people profited by them; why the required ability was practised spontaneously, when an enterprise was undertaken, was because merits were clearly defined; and because these were clearly defined, the people exerted their forces; and this being so, the required ability was spontaneously practised; why the army was strong when rewards were distributed refers to titles and emoluments. Titles and emoluments are the goal of a soldier's ambition. Therefore, the principle on which princes distributed titles and emoluments was clear; when this was clear, the country became daily stronger, but when it was obscure, the country became daily weaker. Therefore, the principle on which titles and emoluments are distributed is the key to the state's preservation or ruin. The reason why a country is weak or a prince is ruined is not that there are no titles or emoluments, but that the principles followed therein are wrong. The principle followed by the Three Kings and the five Lords Protector was no other than that of giving titles and emoluments, and the reason that people emulated each other in merit was because the principles which they followed were clear. Thus the way in which intelligent princes utilized their ministers was that their employment was made dependent on the work which they had done, and rewards were bestowed on the merits which they had acquired. When the relation between merit and reward was clear, then the people emulated each other in merit. If, in administering a state, one succeeds in causing the people to exert their strength so that they emulate each other in merit, then the army will certainly be strong.

2 错法:
Establishing Laws:
To be of the same rank as others and yet to stand to them in such relations as subject or concubine points to poverty or wealth; to be of the same territory as others and yet to be annexed by them points to strength or weakness; to have land, but the prince being in the one case strong and in the other weak, points to disorder or order. If there is a right method, even a territory of a square li is sufficient to give room to the body, and people may be attracted (to colonize), and if it but contains a market-place, riches may become many. Whoever has land cannot be called poor, and whoever has people cannot be called weak. If land is made truly productive, one need not be anxious about not being wealthy; if the people are truly employed, one need not fear force or violence; if virtue be clear and with the right teaching prevailing, one will succeed in utilizing for oneself what the people have. Therefore, the intelligent kings utilized what was not their own, and employed those who were not their own subjects. The point to which intelligent kings attached importance was that of rewarding with titles only men of real merit; if this condition was fulfilled, honour and outer marks of distinction were awarded to them. If there were no honour connected with them, then people would not be anxious for noble rank, and if there were no outer marks of distinction, then people would not be concerned about titles. If titles are easily obtained, then people do not appreciate the highest titles nor the various other titles; if emoluments and rewards are not obtained through a definite gateway, people will not strive to the death for rank. For a prince there exists the fact that people have likes and dislikes; therefore, for it to be possible to govern the people, it is necessary that the prince should examine these likes and dislikes. Likes and dislikes are the basis of rewards and punishments. Now, the nature of man is to like titles and emoluments and to dislike punishments and penalties. A prince institutes these two in order to guide men's wills, and he establishes what they desire. Now, if titles follow upon the people's exertion of strength, if rewards follow upon their acquisition of merit, and if the prince succeeds in making people believe in this as firmly as they do in the shining of sun and moon, then his army will have no equal.

3 错法:
Establishing Laws:
Among the princes of men there are some who bestow titles, but whose army is weak; there are some who grant emoluments, but whose state is poor; there are some who have fixed laws, but who yet suffer disorder. These three things are calamities for a country. For if a ruler of men places the making easy of audiences before the acquiring of merit, then although he bestows titles, his army will be weak; if people, without risking their lives in dangers, can obtain profit and emoluments, then the granting of emoluments will only make the country poor. If the law has neither measures nor figures, then affairs will daily become more complicated, and although laws have been established, yet the result will be that the administration will be in disorder. Therefore, an intelligent prince, in directing his people, will so direct them that they will exert their strength to the utmost, in order to strive for a particular merit; and if, when they have acquired merit, riches and honour follow upon it, there will be no bravery in private causes. Therefore, if this teaching spreads and becomes successful, then when that is the case, ministers will be loyal, princes intelligent, order manifest, and the army strong.

4 错法:
Establishing Laws:
Therefore, in general, an intelligent prince in his administration relies on force and not on virtue, and thus, without his being anxious or fatigued, merit will be established. When measures and figures have been instituted, law can be followed. Therefore, it is necessary that a ruler of men should pay attention to himself. Indeed, Li Zhu saw an autumn's hair at a distance of more than a hundred paces, but he could not transfer his sharp vision to others; Wu Huo was able to lift a weight of a thousand chun, but could not transfer his great strength to others; and indeed sages cannot transfer to others the personality and nature that is inherent in them. But that whereby success may be attained - that is the law.

URN: ctp:shang-jun-shu/establishing-laws