1. When the people do not fear what they ought to fear, that which is their great dread will come on them.
2. Let them not thoughtlessly indulge themselves in their ordinary life; let them not act as if weary of what that life depends on.
3. It is by avoiding such indulgence that such weariness does not arise.
4. Therefore the sage knows (these things) of himself, but does not parade (his knowledge); loves, but does not (appear to set a) value on, himself. And thus he puts the latter alternative away and makes choice of the former.
愛巳, 'Loving one's Self.' This title is taken from the expression in par. 4; and the object of the chapter seems to be to show how such loving should be manifested, and to enforce the lesson by the example of the 'sage,' the true master of the Dào.
In par. 1 'the great dread' is death, and the things which ought to be feared and may be feared, are the indulgences of the appetites and passions, which, if not eschewed, tend to shorten life and accelerate the approach of death.
Pars. 2 and 3 are supplementary to 1. For 狹, the second character of Héshàng Gōng's text in par. 2, Wáng Bì reads 狎, which has the same name as the other; and according to the Kāngxī dictionary, the two characters are interchangeable. I have also followed Wú Chéng in adopting 狎 for the former of the two 厭 in par. 3. Wú adopted this reading from a commentator Liû of Lü-ling. It gives a good meaning, and is supported by the structure of other sentences made on similar lines.
In par. 4 'the sage', must be 'the ruler who is a sage,' a master of the Dào, 'the king' of ch. 25. He 'loves himself,' i.e. his life, and takes the right measures to prolong his life, but without any demonstration that he is doing so.
The above is I conceive, the correct explanation of the chapter; but as to the Chinese critics and foreign translators of it, it may be said, 'Quot homines, tot sententiae.' In illustration of this I venture to subjoin what is found on it in the old version of the Jesuit missionaries, which has not been previously printed:—
Prima explicatio juxta interpretes.
1. Populus, ubi jam principis iram non timet, nihil non audet ut jugum excutiat, resque communis ad extremum discrimen adducitur.
2. Ambitio principis non faciat terram angustiorem, et vectigalium magnitudine alendo populo insufficientem; numquam populus patriae pertaesus alias terras quaeret.
3. Vitae si non taedet, neque patrii soli taedebit.
4. Quare sanctus sibi semper attentus potentiam suam non ostentat.
5. Quia vere se amat, non se pretiosum facit; vel quia sibi recte consulit non se talem aestimat cujus felicitati et honori infelices populi unice servire debeant, immo potius eum se reputat qui populorum felicitati totum se debeat impendere.
6. Ergo illud resecat, istud amplectitur.
1. Populus si non ita timet principis majestatem, sed facile ad eum accedit, majestas non minuitur, immo ad summum pervenit.
2. Vectigalibus terra si non opprimitur, suâ quisque contentus alias terras non quaeret, si se non vexari populus experitur.
3. Vitae si non taedet, nec patrii soli taedebit.
4. Quare sanctus majestatis fastum non affectat, immo similem se caeteris ostendit.
5. Sibi recte consulens, populorum amans, no se pretiosum et inaccessibilem facit.
6. Quidquid ergo timorem incutere potest, hoc evitat; quod amorem conciliat ed benignitatem, se demonstrat hoc eligi et ultro amplectitur.