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-> -> -> Prince and Minister

《君臣 - Prince and Minister》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?]
Books referencing 《君臣》 Library Resources
1 君臣:
Prince and Minister:
In the days of antiquity, before the time when there were princes and ministers, superiors and inferiors, the people were disorderly and were not well administered, and so the sages made a division between the noble and the humble; they regulated rank and position, and established names and appellations, in order to distinguish the ideas of prince and minister, of superior and inferior. As the territory was extensive, the people numerous and all things many, they made a division of five kinds of officials, and maintained it; as the people were numerous, wickedness and depravity originated, so they established laws and regulations and created weights and measures, in order to prohibit them, and in consequence there were the idea of prince and minister, the distinctions between the five kinds of officials, and the interdicts of the laws and regulations, to which it was necessary to pay heed. If, when occupying the position of prince, one's mandates are not carried out, one is in peril; when there is no constancy in the distinctions between the five kinds of officials, there is disorder; when laws and regulations have been set up and yet private notions of virtue are practised, then people do not stand in fear of punishment. When the prince is respected, his mandates are carried out; when officials have been well-trained, there is constancy; and when laws and regulations are clear, people stand in fear of punishment. If laws and regulations are not clear, then it is impossible to obtain from the people the observance of mandates. If the people do not observe the mandates, but you want the prince to be respected, even a man with the wisdom of Yao and Shun would not be able to govern well. The way in which an intelligent prince administers the empire is to do so according to the law, and to reward according to merit. It is the hankering for rank and emoluments that prompts people to fight energetically and not to shun death. The way in which an intelligent prince administers a state is to award soldiers, who have had the merit of making decapitations or of capturing prisoners, with such rank as will really give honour, and to grant them such emoluments as will be sufficient for them to live on and to farmers, who do not leave their ground, sufficient to nourish both their parents and to keep their family affairs in order. Thus soldiers in the army will fulfil their duty even to death, and farmers will not be negligent.

2 君臣:
Prince and Minister:
But the princes of the present time do not act thus. They relax the law and keep to knowledge; they turn their backs on merit and keep to people of reputation. Therefore, soldiers do not fight and farmers are migratory. I have heard that the gate through which the people are guided depends on where their superiors lead. Therefore, whether one succeeds in making people farm or fight, or in making them into travelling politicians, or in making them into scholars, depends on what their superiors encourage. If their superiors encourage merit and labour, people will fight; if they encourage the Odes and Book of History, people will become scholars. For people's attitude towards profit is just like the tendency of water to flow downwards, without preference for any of the four sides. The people are only interested in obtaining profit, and it depends on what their superiors encourage, what they will do. If men with angry eyes, who clench their fists and call themselves brave, are successful; if men in flowing robes, who idly talk, are successful; if men who waste their time and spend their days in idleness, and save their efforts for obtaining benefit through private channels, are successful - if these three kinds of people, though they have no merit, all obtain respectful treatment, then people will leave off farming and fighting and will do this: either they will extort it by discussions and suggestions, or they will ask for it by practising flattery, or they will struggle for it by acts of bravery. Thus farmers and fighters will dwindle daily, and itinerant office-seekers will increase more and more, with the result that the country will fall into disorder, the land will be dismembered, the army will be weak and the ruler debased. This would be the result of relaxing laws and regulations and placing reliance on men of fame and reputation.

3 君臣:
Prince and Minister:
Therefore is an intelligent ruler cautious with regard to laws and regulations; he does not hearken to words which are not in accordance with the law; he does not exalt actions which are not in accordance with the law; he does not perform deeds which are not in accordance with the law. But he hearkens to words which are in accordance with the law; he exalts actions which are in accordance with the law; he performs deeds which are in accordance with the law. Thus the state will enjoy order, the land will be wide, the army will be strong, and the ruler will be honoured. This is the climax of good government, and it is imperative for a ruler of men to examine it.

URN: ctp:shang-jun-shu/prince-and-minister