The Sayings Of Confucius
by Confucius
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Transcriber's Note:

The Table of Contents is not part of the original book.


















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Confucius was born in the year 550 B.C.,[1] in the land of Lu, in a small village, situated in the western part of the modern province of Shantung. His name was K'ung Ch'iu, and his style (corresponding to our Christian name) was Chung-ni. His countrymen speak of him as K'ung Fu-tzu, the Master, or philosopher K'ung. This expression was altered into Confucius by the Jesuit missionaries who first carried his fame to Europe.

[Footnote 1: According to the great historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Other authorities say, 552 and 551 B.C.]

Since the golden days of the Emperors Yao and Shun, the legendary founders of the Chinese Empire, nearly two thousand years had passed. Shun chose as his successor Yue, who had been his chief minister, a man whose devotion to duty was such that when engaged in draining the empire of the great flood—a task that took eight years to accomplish—he never entered his home till the work was done, although in the course of his labours he had thrice to pass his door. He founded the Hsia dynasty, which lasted till 1766 B.C. The last emperor of this line, a vile tyrant, was overthrown by T'ang, who became the first ruler of the house of Shang, or Yin. This dynasty again degenerated in course of time and came to an end in Chou, or Chou Hsin (1154-22 B.C.), a monster of lust, extravagance, and cruelty. The empire was only held together by the strength and wisdom of the Duke of Chou, or King Wen, to give him his popular title, one of the greatest men in Chinese history. He controlled two-thirds of the empire; but, believing that the people were not yet ready for a change, he refrained from dethroning the emperor. In his day 'the husbandman paid one in nine; the pay of the officers was hereditary; men were questioned at barriers and at markets, but there were no tolls; fishgarths were not preserved; the children of criminals were sackless. The old and wifeless—the widower; the old and husbandless—the widow; the old and childless—the lone one; the young and fatherless—the orphan; these four are the people most in need below heaven, and they have no one to whom to cry, so when King Wen reigned his love went out first to them' (Mencius, Book II, chapter 5). After his death, his son, King Wu, decided that the nation was ripe for change. He overcame Chou Hsin by force of arms, and, placing himself on the throne, became the founder of the Chou dynasty.

In the time of Confucius the Chou dynasty still filled the throne. But it had long since become effete, and all power had passed into the hands of the great vassals. The condition of China was much like that of Germany in the worst days of the Holy Roman Empire. The emperor was powerless, the various vassal states were independent in all but name, and often at war one with the other. These states again were disintegrated, and their rulers impotent against encroaching feudatories. In Confucius' native state, Lu, the duke was a mere shadow. The younger branches of his house had usurped all power. Three in number, they were called the Three Clans. The most important of the three was the Chi, or Chi-sun clan, whose chiefs Chi Huan and Chi K'ang are often mentioned by Confucius. But the power of the Chi, too, was ill-secured. The minister Yang Huo overawed his master, and once even threw him into prison. Nor was the condition of the other states of the empire better than that of Lu. Confucius thought it worse.

Into this turbulent world Confucius was born. Though his father was only a poor military officer, he could trace his descent from the imperial house of Yin. Confucius married at nineteen, and is known to have had one son and one daughter. Shortly after his marriage he entered the service of the state as keeper of the granary. A year later he was put in charge of the public fields. In 527 B.C. his mother died, and, in obedience to Chinese custom, he had to retire from public life. When the years of mourning were over, he did not again take office, but devoted himself instead to study and teaching. As the years rolled by his fame grew, and a band of pupils gathered round him. In 517 B.C. the anarchy in Lu reached such a pitch that Confucius moved to the neighbouring land of Ch'i. Here he had several interviews with the reigning duke, but met with little encouragement (xviii. 3). So he soon returned to his native country, and resumed for fifteen years his work as student and teacher.

During these fifteen years the power of the duke sank lower and lower, and the Chi was menaced by his minister Yang Huo. In times so dark, men that loved quiet sought in the world of thought an escape from the gloom around them, whilst others that were less resigned turned over in their minds the causes of the realm's decay. Lao-tzu, the founder of the mystic Taoist philosophy, taught that in inaction alone peace can be found; Mo-tzu proclaimed the doctrine of universal love: that we should love all men as we love self, love the parents of others as we love our own parents. Upright men were driven or fled from the world. Confucius often met them in his wanderings, and was reproved for not doing as they did. But his practical mind told him that inaction could not help the world, and that to find a remedy for the nation's ills, their cause must first be learned. This could only be done by historical study. He therefore devoted himself to the study of past times, edited in later life the Book of History, and compiled the work called Spring and Autumn, a history of his native state from 722 to 481 B.C. To bring again the golden days of Yao and Shun a return must be made to the principles of Wen and Wu, the kings that had rebuilt the empire after tyranny and selfishness had laid it low. Of impracticable ideals and renunciation of the world no good could come.

At last in 501 B.C. Yang Huo was forced to flee from Lu, and prospects brightened. A year later Confucius was appointed governor of a town. So great was his success as governor that before long he was promoted to be Superintendent of Works, and then to be Chief Criminal Judge. He won great influence with his master, and did much to lighten the general misery. He so strengthened the power of the duke that neighbouring states grew jealous. To sow dissension between duke and minister the men of Ch'i sent the duke a gift of singing girls. Such joy they gave him that for three days no court was held. On this Confucius left the land, 497 B.C.

For the next thirteen years Confucius wandered from land to land, followed by his disciples, seeking in vain for a ruler that was willing to employ him, and whom he was willing to serve. At times he was exposed to danger, at other times to want. But as a rule he was treated with consideration, although his teachings were ignored. Yet thirteen years of homeless wandering, of hopes deferred and frustrated, must have been hard to bear. When he left office Confucius was already fifty-three years old, and his life so far seemed a failure. The sense of his wasted powers may well have tempted him now and again to take office under an unworthy ruler; but knowing that no good could come of it he refrained, and probably he never seriously thought of doing so.

In 483 B.C., when Confucius was sixty-six years old, through the influence of his disciple Jan Yu, who was in the service of the Chi, the Master was invited to return to his native land. Here he remained till his death in 479 B.C. He had many interviews with the reigning duke and the head of the Chi clan, but gained no influence over either of them. So he turned once more to his favourite studies; edited the Book of Poetry—perhaps the most interesting collection of ancient songs extant—and wrote Spring and Autumn. His closing years were darkened by the loss of those dearest to him. First his son died, then Yen Yuean, the disciple whom he loved best. At his death the Master was overcome by grief, and he left none behind him that loved learning. Lastly Tzu-lu, the frank and bold, was killed in battle. A little later, in his seventy-first year, Confucius himself passed away, 479 B.C.

This book of the Master's Sayings is believed by the Chinese to have been written by the disciples of Confucius. But there is nothing to prove this, and some passages in the book point the other way. Book viii speaks of the death of Tseng-tzu, who did not die till 437 B.C., forty-two years after the Master. The chief authority for the text as it stands to-day is a manuscript found in the house of Confucius in 150 B.C., hidden there, in all likelihood, between the years 213 and 211 B.C., when the reigning emperor was seeking to destroy every copy of the classics. We find no earlier reference to the book under its present name. But Mencius (372-289 B.C.) quotes seven passages from it, in language all but identical with the present text, as the words of Confucius. No man ever talked the language of these sayings. Such pith and smoothness is only reached by a long process of rounding and polishing. We shall probably come no nearer to the truth than Legge's conclusion that the book was put together by the pupils of the disciples of Confucius, from the words and notebooks of their masters, about the year 400 B.C.



January, 1909

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Such information as seemed necessary to enable the reader to understand the text, or that appeared to me to be of general interest, I have given in the notes at the foot of the page. Further details about the men and places mentioned in the text will be found in the Index.

Dates I have taken from Legge, Hirth and other standard authors.

In Chinese names, consonants are generally pronounced as in English, vowels as in Italian.

E, when not joined with i, is pronounced nearly as German oe, or much as u in English luck.

ao rhymes approximately with how ei " " " they ou " " " though uo " " " poor,

the u being equivalent to w.

Chih and Shih rhyme approximately with her. Tzu is pronounced much as sir in the vulgar yessir, but with a hissing sound prefixed.

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1. The Master said, To learn and then do, is not that a pleasure? When friends come from afar do we not rejoice? To live unknown and not fret, is not that to be a gentleman?

2. Yu-tzu[2] said. Few men that are good sons and good brothers are fond of withstanding those over them. A man that is not fond of withstanding those over him and is yet fond of broils is nowhere found. A gentleman heeds the roots. When the root has taken, the Way is born. And to be a good son and a good brother, is not that the root of love?

[Footnote 2: A disciple.]

3. The Master said, Smooth words and fawning looks are seldom found with love.

4. Tseng-tzu[3] said, Thrice daily I ask myself: In dealing for others, have I been unfaithful? Have I been untrue to friends? Do I practise what I preach?

[Footnote 3: A disciple.]

5. The Master said, To guide a land of a thousand chariots, honour business and be true; spend little and love men; time thy calls on the people.

6. The Master said, The young should be dutiful at home, modest abroad, careful and true, overflowing in kindness for all, but in brotherhood with love. And if they have strength to spare they should spend it on the arts.

7. Tzu-hsia[3] said, If a man eschews beauty and honours worth, if he serves his father and mother with all his strength, if he is ready to give his life for his lord, and keeps faith with his friends, though others may say he has no learning, I must call him learned.

8. The Master said, A gentleman will not be looked up to unless he is staid, nor will his learning be sound. Put faithfulness and truth first; have no friends unlike thyself; be not ashamed to mend thy faults.

9. Tseng-tzu[4] said, Heed the dead, follow up the past, and the soul of the people will again grow great.

[Footnote 4: A disciple.]

10. Tzu-ch'in[5] said to Tzu-kung,[6] When he comes to a country the Master always hears how it is governed; does he ask, or is it told him?

[Footnote 5: A disciple.]

[Footnote 6: A disciple.]

Tzu-kung said, The Master gets it by his warmth and honesty, by politeness, modesty and yielding. The way the Master asks is unlike other men's asking.

11. The Master said, Whilst thy father lives look for his purpose; when he is gone, look how he walked. To change nothing in thy father's ways for three years may be called pious.

12, Yu-tzu[7] said, To behave with ease is the best part of courtesy. This was the beauty of the old kings' ways; this they followed in small and great. But knowing this, it will not do to give way to ease, unchecked by courtesy. This too is wrong.

[Footnote 7: A disciple.]

13. Yu-tzu said, If pledges are close to right, word can be kept. If attentions are close to courtesy, shame will be kept far. If we do not choose our leaders wrong, we may worship them too.

14. The Master said, A gentleman that does not seek to eat his fill, nor look for ease in his home, who is earnest at work and careful of speech, who walks with those that keep the Way, and is guided by them, may be said to love learning.

15. Tzu-kung[8] said, Poor, but no flatterer; rich, but not proud: how would that be?

[Footnote 8: A disciple.]

It would do, said the Master; but better still were poor but merry; rich, but loving courtesy.

Tzu-kung said, When the poem says:

If ye cut, if ye file, If ye polish and grind,

is that what is meant?

The Master said, Now I can begin to talk of poetry to Tz'u. Tell him what is gone, and he knows what shall come.

16. The Master said, Not to be known is no sorrow. My sorrow is not knowing men.


1. The Master said, He that rules by mind is like the north star, steady in his seat, whilst the stars all bend to him.

2. The Master said, The three hundred poems are summed up in the one line, Think no evil.

3. The Master said, Guide the people by law, aline them by punishment; they may shun crime, but they will want shame. Guide them by mind, aline them by courtesy; they will learn shame and grow good.

4. The Master said, At fifteen, I had the will to learn; at thirty, I could stand; at forty, I had no doubts; at fifty, I understood the heavenly Bidding; at sixty, my ears were opened[9]; at seventy, I could do as my heart lusted without trespassing from the square.

[Footnote 9: Lit., obedient.]

5. Meng Yi asked the duty of a son.

The Master said, Not to transgress.

As Fan Chi'ih[10] was driving him, the Master said, Meng-sun[11] asked me the duty of a son; I answered, Not to transgress.

[Footnote 10: A disciple.]

[Footnote 11: Meng Yi.]

What did ye mean? said Fan Chi'ih.

To serve our father and mother with courtesy whilst they live; to bury them with courtesy when they die, and to worship them with courtesy.

6. Meng Wu asked the duty of a son.

The Master said, He should not grieve his father and mother by anything but illness.

7. Tzu-yu[12] asked the duty of a son.

[Footnote 12: A disciple.]

The Master said, He that can feed his parents is now called a good son. But both dogs and horses are fed, and unless we honour our parents, what is the difference?

8. Tzu-hsia[13] asked the duty of a son.

[Footnote 13: A disciple.]

The Master said, Our manner is the hard part. For the young to be a stay in toil and leave the wine and food to their elders, is this to fulfil their duty?

9. The Master said, If I talk all day to Hui,[14] like a dullard, he never differs from me. But when he is gone, if I watch him when alone, he can carry out what I taught. No, Hui is no dullard!

[Footnote 14: The disciple Yen Yuean.]

10. The Master said, See what he does; watch what moves him; search what pleases him: can the man lie hidden? Can the man lie hidden?

11. The Master said, To keep old knowledge warm and get new makes the teacher.

12. The Master said, A gentleman is not a vessel.

13. Tzu-kung[15] asked, What is a gentleman?

[Footnote 15: A disciple.]

The Master said, He puts words into deeds first, and follows these up with words.

14. The Master said, A gentleman is broad and fair; the small man takes sides and is narrow.

15. The Master said, Learning without thought is naught; thought without learning is dangerous.

16. The Master said, To fight strange doctrines does harm.

17. The Master said, Yu,[16] shall I teach thee what is wisdom? To know what we know, and know what we do not know, is wisdom.

[Footnote 16: The disciple Tzu-lu.]

18. Tsu-chang[17] learned with an eye to pay.

[Footnote 17: A disciple.]

The Master said, Hear much, leave all that is doubtful alone, speak warily of everything else, and few will be offended. See much, leave all that is dangerous alone, deal warily with everything else, and thou wilt have little to rue. If thy words seldom give offence, and thy deeds leave little to rue, pay will follow.

19. Duke Ai[18] asked, What should I do to win the people?

[Footnote 18: Of Lu.]

Confucius answered, Lift up the straight, put away the crooked; and the people will be won. Lift up the crooked, put away the straight; and the people will not be won.

20. Chi K'ang[19] asked how to make the people lowly, faithful and painstaking.

[Footnote 19: The head of the Chi clan.]

The Master said, Meet them with dignity, they will be lowly; be a good son and merciful, they will be faithful; lift up the good and teach the unskilled, and they will take pains.

21. One said to Confucius, Why do ye not govern, Sir?

The Master said, What does the Book[20] say of a good son? 'To be a good son and a friend to thy brothers is to show how to govern.' This, too, is to govern. Must one be in office to govern?

[Footnote 20: The Book of History.]

22. The Master said, A man without truth, I know not what good he is! A cart without a crosspole, a carriage without a yoke, how can they be moved?

23. Tzu-chang[21] asked whether we can know what is to be ten generations hence.

[Footnote 21: A disciple.]

The Master said, The Yin[22] took over the manners of the Hsia; the harm and the good that they did them can be known. The Chou took over the manners of the Yin; the harm and the good that they did them can be known. And we may know what shall be, even an hundred generations hence, whoever follows Chou.

[Footnote 22: Up to the time of Confucius, China had been ruled by three lines of kings. First the T'ang, next the Yin or Shang, then the Chou.]

24. The Master said, To worship the ghosts of men not akin to us is fawning. To see the right and not do it is want of courage.


1. Of the Chi having eight rows of dancers[23] in his courtyard, Confucius said, If this is to be borne, what is not to be borne?

[Footnote 23: An Imperial prerogative.]

2. When the sacrifice was ended, the Three Clans had the Yung hymn sung.

The Master said,

Princes and dukes assist. Solemn is the Son of heaven;

what meaning has this in the courtyard of the Three Clans?

3. The Master said, A man without love, what is courtesy to him? A man without love, what is music to him?

4. Lin Fang asked what good form is at root.

The Master said, A big question! At high-tides, thrift is better than waste; at burials, grief is worth more than nicety.

5. The Master said, Every wild tribe has its lord, whereas the lands of Hsia[24] have none!

[Footnote 24: China.]

6. The Chi sacrificed to Mount T'ai.[25]

[Footnote 25: A prerogative of the Duke of Lu.]

The Master said to Jan Yu,[26] Canst thou not stop this?

[Footnote 26: A disciple in the service of the Chi.]

He answered, I cannot.

Alas! said the Master; dost thou think Mount T'ai less wise than Lin Fang?

7. The Master said, A gentleman never strives with others. Or must he, perhaps, in shooting? But then, as he bows and makes way in going up or steps down to drink,[27] his strife is that of a gentleman.

[Footnote 27: The loser had to drink a cup of wine.]

8. Tzu-hsia asked, What is the meaning of:

Her cunning smiles, Her dimples light, Her lovely eyes, So clear and bright, All unadorned, The background white.

Colouring, said the Master, is second to the plain ground.

Then good form is second, said Tzu-hsia.

Shang,[28] said the Master, thou hast hit my meaning! Now I can talk of poetry to thee.

[Footnote 28: Tzu-hsia.]

9. The Master said, I can speak of the manners of Hsia; but as proof of them Chi[29] is not enough. I can speak of the manners of Yin; but as proof of them Sung is not enough. This is due to their dearth of books and great men. If there were enough of these, I could use them as proofs.

[Footnote 29: Chi was the homeland of the House of Hsia, Sung that of the House of Yin.]

10. The Master said, After the drink offering at the Great Sacrifice, I have no wish to see more.

11. One asked the meaning of the Great Sacrifice.

The Master said, I do not know. He that knew the meaning would overlook all below heaven as I do this—and he pointed to his palm.

12. He worshipped as if those whom he worshipped were before him; he worshipped the spirits as if they were before him.

The Master said: For me, to take no part in the sacrifice is the same as not sacrificing.

13. Wang-sun Chia[30] said, What is the meaning of, It is better to court the hearth-god than the god of the home?

[Footnote 30: Wang-sun Chia was minister of Wei, and had more influence than his master. The hearth-god ranks below the god of the home (the Roman lares), but since he sees all that goes on in the house, and ascends to heaven at the end of the year to report what has happened, it is well to be on good terms with him.]

Not so, said the Master. A sin against Heaven leaves no room for prayer.

14. The Master said, Chou[31] looks back on two lines of kings. How rich, how rich it is in art! I follow Chou.

[Footnote 31: The royal house of Chou, which was then ruling China.]

15. On going into the Great Temple the Master asked about everything.

One said, Who says that the Tsou man's son knows the rites? On going into the Great Temple he asked about everything.

When he heard this, the Master said, Such is the rite.

16. The Master said, In shooting, the arrow need not go right through the target, for men are not the same in strength. This was the old rule.

17. Tzu-kung wished to do away with the sheep offering at the new moon.

The Master said, Thou lovest the sheep, Tz'u: I love the rite.

18. The Master said: Serve the king with all courtesy, men call it fawning.

19. Duke Ting asked how a lord should treat his lieges, and how lieges should serve their lord.

Confucius answered, The lord should treat his lieges with courtesy; lieges should serve their lord faithfully.

20. The Master said, The poem The Osprey is glad, but not wanton; it is sad, but not morbid.

21. Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo about the earth-altars.

Tsai Wo answered, The Emperors of the house of Hsia grew firs round them; the men of Yin grew cypress; the men of Chou grew chestnut, which was to say, Let the people tremble.[32]

[Footnote 32: Tremble and chestnut have the same sound in Chinese.]

On hearing this, the Master said, I do not speak of what is ended, chide what is settled, or find fault with what is past.[33]

[Footnote 33: In old times men had been sacrificed at the earth-altars, and Tsai Wo's answer might seem to approve the practice.]

22. The Master said, How shallow was Kuan Chung!

But, said one, was not Kuan Chung thrifty?

The Kuan, said the Master, owned San Kuei, and no one of his household held two posts: was that thrift?

At least Kuan Chung knew good form.

The Master said, Kings screen their gates with trees; the Kuan, too, had trees to screen his gate. When two kings are carousing, they have a stand for the turned-down cups; the Kuan had a turned-down cup-stand, too! If the Kuan knew good form, who does not know good form?[34]

[Footnote 34: Kuan Chung (+ 645 B.C.), a famous man in his day, was chief minister to the Duke of Ch'i, whom he raised to such wealth and power that he became the leading prince of the empire. His chief merit lay in taming the barbarous frontier tribes. The rest of his work was built upon sand and died with him.]

23. The Master said to the Great Master[35] of Lu, We can learn how to play music; at first each part in unison; then a swell of harmony, each part distinct, rolling on to the finish.

[Footnote 35: Of music.]

24. The warden of Yi asked to see Confucius, saying, No gentleman has ever come here whom I have failed to see.

The followers took him in.

On leaving he said, My two-three boys, why lament your fall? The Way has long been lost below heaven! Now Heaven shall make the Master into a warning bell.

25. The Master said of the music of Shao, It is thoroughly beautiful, and thoroughly good, too. Of the music of Wu, he said, It is thoroughly beautiful, but not thoroughly good.

26. The Master said, Rank without beauty; ceremony without reverence; mourning without grief, why should I cast them a glance?


1. The Master said, Love makes a spot beautiful: who chooses not to dwell in love, has he got wisdom?

2. The Master said, Loveless men cannot bear need long, they cannot bear fortune long. Loving men find peace in love, the wise find profit in it.

3. The Master said, Love alone can love others, or hate others.

4. The Master said, A will set on love is free from evil.

5. The Master said, Wealth and honours are what men desire; but do not go from the Way, to keep them. Lowliness and want are hated by men; but do not go from the Way, to escape them.

Shorn of love, is a gentleman worthy of the name? Not for one moment may a gentleman sin against love; he must not do so in flurry and haste, nor do so in utter overthrow.

6. The Master said, I have seen no one that loves love and hates uncharity. He that loves love will set nothing higher. The hater of uncharity is so given to love that no uncharity can enter into his life. If a man were to give his strength to love for one day, I have seen no one whose strength would fail him. There may be such men, but I have not seen one.

7. The Master said, A man and his faults are of a piece. By watching his faults we learn whether love be his.

8. The Master said, To learn the Way at daybreak and die at eve were enough.

9. The Master said, A knight[36] in quest of the Way, who is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, it is idle talking to.

[Footnote 36: Shih: a gentleman entitled to bear arms, not a knight in armour.]

10. The Master said, A gentleman has no likes or dislikes below heaven. He follows right.

11. The Master said, The gentleman cherishes mind, the small man cherishes dirt. Gentlemen trust in the law, the small man trusts in favour.

12. The Master said, The chase of gain is rich in hate.

13. The Master said, What is it to sway a kingdom by courteous yielding? If we cannot sway a kingdom by courteous yielding, what is our courtesy worth?

14. The Master said, Care not for want of place; care for thy readiness to fill one. Care not for being unknown, but seek to be worthy of note.

15. The Master said, One line, Shen,[37] runs through my Way.

[Footnote 37: The disciple Tseng-tzu.]

Yes, said Tseng-tzu.

After the Master had left, the disciples asked what was meant.

Tseng-tzu said, The Master's Way is no more than faithfulness and fellow-feeling.

16. The Master said, The gentleman is learned in right; the small man is learned in gain.

17. The Master said, At sight of worth, think to grow like it; at sight of baseness, search thyself within.

18. The Master said, A father or a mother may be gently chidden. If thou seest they have no will to follow thee, be the more lowly, but do not give way; nor murmur at the trouble they give thee.

19. The Master said, Whilst thy father and mother are living, do not wander afar. If thou must travel, hold a set course.

20. The Master said, He that changes nothing in his father's ways for three years may be called pious.

21. The Master said, A father and mother's years must be borne in mind; with gladness on the one hand and fear on the other.

22. The Master said, The men of old were loth to speak, for not to live up to their words would have shamed them.

23. The Master said, We shall seldom get lost if we hold to main lines.

24. The Master said, A gentleman wishes to be slow to speak and quick to do.

25. The Master said, A great soul is never friendless: he has always neighbours.

26. Tzu-yu said, Nagging at kings brings disgrace, nagging at friends estrangement.


1. Of Kung-yeh Ch'ang the Master said, A girl might be wedded to him. Though he has been in fetters that was not his crime.

He gave him his daughter to wed.

Of Nan Jung the Master said, When the land keeps the Way he will not be neglected; and if the land loses the Way he will escape punishment and death.

He gave him his brother's daughter to wed.

2. Of Tzu-chien[38] the Master said, What a gentleman he is! But if there were no gentlemen in Lu, where could he have picked it up?

3. Tzu-kung asked, And what of me?

Thou art a vessel, said the Master.

What kind of vessel?

A rich temple vessel.

4. One said, Yung[39] has love, but he is not glib.

[Footnote 38: A disciple born in Lu.]

[Footnote 39: The disciple Chung-kung.]

The Master said, What is the good of being glib? Fighting men with tongue-craft mostly makes men hate you. Whether love be his I do not know, but what is the good of being glib?

5. The Master moved Ch'i-tiao K'ai to take office.

He answered, For this I want confidence.

The Master was pleased.

6. The Master said, Forsaken is the Way! I must take ship and stem the seas; and Yu[40] shall go with me.

When Tzu-lu heard this he was glad.

The Master said, Yu loves daring more than I do, but he is at a loss how to take things.

7. Meng Wu asked whether Tzu-lu had love.

I do not know, said the Master.

He asked again.

A land of a thousand chariots might give Yu charge of its levies; but whether love be his I do not know.

And how about Ch'iu?[41]

A town of a thousand households, a clan of an hundred chariots might make Ch'iu governor; but whether love be his I do not know.

And how about Ch'ih?[42]

Standing in the court, girt with his sash, Ch'ih might entertain the guests; but whether love be his I do not know.

8. The Master said to Tzu-kung, Which is the better man, thou or Hui[43]?

He answered, How dare I look as high as Hui? When Hui hears one thing, he understands ten; when I hear one thing I understand two.

The Master said, Thou art not his like. Neither art thou his like, nor am I.

9. Tsai Yue[44] slept in the daytime.

[Footnote 40: Tzu-lu.]

[Footnote 41: The disciple Jan Yu.]

[Footnote 42: The disciple Kung-hsi Hua.]

[Footnote 43: The disciple Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 44: The disciple Tsai Wo.]

The Master said, Rotten wood cannot be carved, nor are dung walls plastered. Why chide with Yue?

The Master said, When I first met men I listened to their words and took their deeds on trust. When I meet them now, I listen to their words and watch their deeds. I righted this on Yue.

10. The Master said, I have met no firm man.

One answered, Shen Ch'ang.

The Master said, Ch'ang is passionate; how can he be firm?

11. Tzu-kung said, What I do not wish done to me, I likewise wish not to do to others.

The Master said, That is still beyond thee, Tz'u.

12. Tzu-kung said, To hear the Master on his art and precepts is granted us; but to hear him on man's nature and the Way of Heaven is not.

13. Until Tzu-lu could do what he had heard, his only fear was to hear more.

14. Tzu-kung asked, Why was K'ung-wen called cultured?

The Master said, He was quick and loved learning; he was not ashamed to ask those beneath him: that is why he was called cultured.

15. The Master said, Of the ways of a gentleman Tzu-ch'an had four. His life was modest; he honoured those that he served. He was kind in feeding the people, and he was just in his calls upon them.

16. The Master said, Yen P'ing was a good friend. The longer he knew you, the more attentive he grew.

17. The Master said, Tsang Wen lodged his tortoise with hills on the pillars and reeds on the uprights: was this his wisdom?

18. Tzu-chang said, The chief minister, Tzu-wen, was thrice made minister without showing gladness, thrice he left office with unmoved looks. He always told the new ministers how the old ones had governed: how was that?

He was faithful, said the Master.

But was it love?

I do not know, said the Master: how should this amount to love?

When Ts'ui murdered the lord of Ch'i, Ch'en Wen threw up ten teams of horses and left the land. On coming to another kingdom he said, 'Like my lord Ts'ui,' and left it. On coming to a second kingdom he said again, 'Like my lord Ts'ui,' and left it: how was that?

He was clean, said the Master.

But was it love?

I do not know, said the Master: how should this amount to love?

19. Chi Wen thought thrice before acting.

On hearing this the Master said, Twice is enough.

20. The Master said, Whilst the land kept the Way Ning Wu showed wisdom; when his land lost the Way he grew simple. His wisdom we may come up to; such simplicity is beyond us.[45]

[Footnote 45: Ning Wu was minister of the Duke of Wei in the middle of the seventh century B.C. The duke was driven from his throne and deserted by the wise and prudent; but Ning Wu, in his simplicity, stuck to his master and finally effected his restoration.]

21. When he was in Ch'en the Master said, Home, I must go home! Zealous, or rash, or finished scholars, my young sons at home do not know what pruning they still need!

22. The Master said, Because Po-yi and Shu-ch'i never remembered old wickedness they made few enemies.[46]

23. The Master said, Who can call Wei-sheng Kao straight? A man begged him for vinegar: he begged it of a neighbour, and gave it.

24. The Master said, Smooth words, fawning looks, and overdone humility, Tso Ch'iu-ming thought shameful, and so do I. He thought it shameful to hide ill-will and ape friendship, and so do I.

25. As Yen Yuean and Chi-lu[47] were sitting with him, the Master said, Why not each of you tell me thy wishes?

[Footnote 46: Po-yi and Shu-ch'i were sons of the King of Ku-chu. Their father left the throne to the younger of the two; but he would not supplant the elder, nor would the elder go against his father's wishes. So they both retired into obscurity. When King Wu overthrew the tyrant Chou (1122 B.C.), they starved to death, rather than live under a new dynasty. Of Po-yi Mencius tells us (Book X, chapter 1): 'His eyes would not look on an evil face, his ears would not listen to an evil sound. He served none but his own lord, he ruled none but his own people. He came in when there was order, and withdrew when tumults came. Where lawless rule showed, or lawless people stayed, he could not bear to dwell. To be together with country folk he thought like sitting in court dress and court cap on dust and ashes. In Chou's time he dwelt by the North Sea shore, waiting for all below heaven to grow clean. So, hearing the ways of Po-yi, the fool grows honest, and the weakling's purpose stands.']

[Footnote 47: Tzu-lu.]

Tzu-lu said, I should like carriages and horses, and clothes of light fur to share with my friends, and, if they spoiled them, not to get angry.

Yen Yuean said, I should like to make no boast of talent or show or merit.

Tzu-lu said, We should like to hear your wishes, Sir.

The Master said, To give the old folk peace, to be true to friends, and to have a heart for the young.

26. The Master said, It is finished! I have met no one that can see his own faults and arraign himself within.

27. The Master said, In a hamlet of ten houses there must be men that are as faithful and true men as I, but they do not love learning as I do.


1. The Master said, Yung[48] might fill the seat of a prince.

And might Tzu-sang Po-tzu? asked Chung-kung.

Yes, said the Master; but he is slack.

To be stern to himself, said Chung-kung, and slack in his claims on the people, might do; but to be slack himself and slack with others must surely be too slack.

The Master said, What Yung says is true.

2. Duke Ai asked which disciples loved learning.

Confucius answered, Yen Hui[49] loved learning. He did not carry over anger; he made no mistake twice. Alas! his mission was short, he died. Now that he is gone, I hear of no one that loves learning.

3. When Tzu-hua[50] was sent to Ch'i, the disciple Jan asked for grain for his mother.

The Master said, Give her six pecks.

He asked for more.

The Master said, Give her sixteen.

Jan gave her eight hundred.

The Master said, On his way to Ch'i, Ch'ih[51] was drawn by sleek horses and clad in light furs. I have heard that gentlemen help the needy, not that they swell riches.

[Footnote 48: The disciple Chung-kung.]

[Footnote 49: The disciple Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 50: The disciple Kung-hsi Hua, or Kung-hsi Ch'ih.]

[Footnote 51: Kung-hei Ch'ih.]

When Yuean Ssu was made governor he was given nine hundred measures of grain, which he refused.

Not so, said the Master: why not take it and give it to thy neighbours and countryfolk?

4. The Master said of Chung-kung, If the calf of a brindled cow be red and horned, though men be shy to offer him, will the hills and streams reject him?

5. The Master said, For three months together Hui's[52] heart never sinned against love. The others may hold out for a day, or a month, but no more.

6. Chi K'ang[53] asked whether Chung-yu[3] was fit to govern.

The Master said, Yu[54] is firm; what would governing be to him?

And is Tz'u[55] fit to govern?

Tz'u is thorough; what would governing be to him?

And is Ch'iu[56] fit to govern?

Ch'in is clever; what would governing be to him?

7. The Chi sent to make Min Tzu-ch'ien[6] governor of Pi.

Min Tzu-ch'ien said, Make some good excuse for me. If he sends again I must be across the Wen.

8. When Po-niu[57] was ill the Master asked after him. Grasping his hand through the window, he said, He is going. It is the Bidding; but why this man of such an illness? Why this man of such an illness?

[Footnote 52: Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 53: The head of the Chi clan after Chi Huan.]

[Footnote 54: The disciple Tzu-lu.]

[Footnote 55: The disciple Tzu-kung.]

[Footnote 56: The disciple Jan Yu.]

[Footnote 57: A disciple.]

9. The Master said. What a man was Hui![58] A bowl of rice, a gourd of water, in a low alley; man cannot bear such misery! Yet Hui never fell from mirth. What a man he was!

10. Jan Ch'iu[59] said, It is not that I take no pleasure in the Master's Way: I want strength.

[Footnote 58: Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 59: Jan Yu.]

The Master said, He that wants strength faints midway; but thou drawest a line.

11. The Master said to Tzu-hsia, Study to be a gentleman, not as the small man studies.

12. When Tzu-yu was governor of Wu-ch'eng, the Master said, Hast thou gotten any men?

He answered, I have Tan-t'ai Mieh-ming. He will not take a short cut when walking, and he has never come to my house except on business.

13. The Master said, Meng Chih-fan never brags. He was covering the rear in a rout; but on coming to the gate he whipped his horse and cried, Not courage kept me behind; my horse won't go!

14. The Master said, Unless we are glib as the reader T'o and fair as Chao of Sung, escape is hard in the times that be!

15. The Master said, Who can go out except by the door? Why is it no one keeps to the Way?

16. The Master said, Matter outweighing art begets roughness; art outweighing matter begets pedantry. Matter and art well blent make a gentleman.

17. The Master said, Man is born straight. If he grows crooked and yet lives, he is lucky to escape.

18. The Master said, He that knows is below him that loves, and he that loves below him that delights therein.

19. The Master said, To men above the common we can talk of higher things; to men below the common we must not talk of higher things.

20. Fan Ch'ih[60] asked, What is wisdom?

The Master said, To foster right among the people; to honour ghosts and spirits, and yet keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.

He asked, What is love?

The Master said, To rank the effort above the prize may be called love.

21. The Master said, Wisdom delights in water; love delights in hills. Wisdom is stirring; love is quiet. Wisdom is merry; love grows old.

22. The Master said, By one revolution Ch'i might grow to be Lu; by one revolution Lu might reach the Way.

23. The Master said, A drinking horn that is no horn! What a horn! What a drinking horn!

24. Tsai Wo[61] said, If a man of love were told that a man is in a well, would he go in after him?

[Footnote 60: A disciple.]

[Footnote 61: A disciple.]

The Master said, Why should he? A gentleman might be got to the well, but not trapped into it, He may be cheated, but not fooled.

25. The Master said, By breadth of reading and the ties of courtesy, a gentleman is kept, too, from false paths.

26. The Master saw Nan-tzu.[62] Tzu-lu was displeased.

The Master took an oath, saying, If I have done wrong, may Heaven forsake me, may Heaven forsake me!

27. The Master said, The highest minds cleave to the Centre, the Common. They have long been rare among the people.

28. Tzu-kung said, To treat the people with bounty and help the many, how were that? Could it be called love?

The Master said, What has this to do with love? Must it not be holiness? Yao and Shun[63] still yearned for this. Seeking a foothold for self, love finds a foothold for others; seeking light for itself, it enlightens others too. To learn from the near at hand may be called the clue to love.

[Footnote 62: The dissolute wife of Duke Ling of Wei.]

[Footnote 63: Two emperors of the golden age.]


1. The Master said, A teller and not a maker, one that trusts and loves the past; I might liken myself to our old P'eng.[64]

2. The Master said, To think things over in silence, to learn and be always hungry, to teach and never weary; is any of these mine?

3. The Master said, Not making the most of my mind, want of thoroughness in learning, failure to do the right when told it, lack of strength to overcome faults; these are my sorrows.

4. In his free moments the Master was easy and cheerful.

5. The Master said, How deep is my decay! It is long since I saw the Duke of Chou[65] in a dream.

6. The Master said, Keep thy will on the Way, lean on mind, rest in love, move in art.

7. The Master said, From the man that paid in dried meat upwards, I have withheld teaching from no one.

8. The Master said, Only to those fumbling do I open, only for those stammering do I find the word.

[Footnote 64: We should be glad to know more of old P'eng, but nothing is known of him.]

[Footnote 65: Died 1105 B.C. He was the younger brother of King Wu, the founder of the Chou dynasty, as great in peace as the King in war. He was so bent on carrying out the old principles of government that 'if anything did not tally with them, he looked up and thought, till day passed into night, and if by luck he found the answer he sat and waited for the dawn' (Mencius, Book VIII, chapter 20).]

If I lift one corner and the other three are left unturned, I say no more.

9. When eating beside a mourner the Master never ate his fill. On days when he had been wailing, he did not sing.

10. The Master said to Yen Yuean, To go forward when in office and lie quiet when not; only I and thou can do that.

Tzu-lu said, If ye had to lead three armies, Sir, whom would ye have with you?

No man, said the Master, that would face a tiger bare-fisted, or plunge into a river and die without a qualm; but one, indeed, who, fearing what may come, lays his plans well and carries them through.

11. The Master said, If shouldering a whip were a sure road to riches I should turn carter; but since there is no sure road, I tread the path I love.

12. The Master gave heed to abstinence, war and sickness.

13. When he was in Ch'i, for three months after hearing the Shao played, the Master knew not the taste of flesh.

I did not suppose, he said, that music could reach such heights.

14. Jan Yu said, Is the Master for the lord of Wei?[66]

[Footnote 66: The grandson of Duke Ling, the husband of Nan-tzu. His father had been driven from the country for plotting to kill Nan-tzu. When Duke Ling died, he was succeeded by his grandson, who opposed by force his father's attempts to seize the throne.]

I shall ask him, said Tzu-kung.

He went in, and said, What kind of men were Po-yi[67] and Shu-ch'i?

Worthy men of yore, said the Master.

Did they rue the past?

They sought love and found it; what had they to rue?

Tzu-kung went out, and said, The Master is not for him.

15. The Master said, Eating coarse rice and drinking water, with bent arm for pillow, we may be merry; but ill-gotten wealth and honours are to me a wandering cloud.

16. The Master said, Given a few more years, making fifty for learning the Yi,[68] I might be freed from gross faults.

[Footnote 67: See Book V, Sec. 22.]

[Footnote 68: An abstruse, ancient classic, usually called the Book of Changes.]

17. The Master liked to talk of poetry, history, and the upkeep of courtesy. Of all these he liked to talk.

18. The Duke of She asked Tzu-lu about Confucius.

Tzu-lu did not answer.

The Master said, Why didst thou not say, He is a man that forgets to eat in his eagerness, whose sorrows are forgotten in gladness, who knows not that age draws near?

19. The Master said, I was not born to wisdom: I loved the past, and sought it earnestly there.

20. The Master never talked of goblins, strength, disorder, or spirits.

21. The Master said, Walking three together I am sure of teachers. I pick out the good and follow it; I see the bad and shun it.

22. The Master said, Heaven begat the mind in me; what can Huan T'ui[69] do to me?

23. The Master said, My two-three boys, do ye think I hide things? I hide nothing from you. I am a man that keeps none of his doings from his two-three boys.

24. The Master taught four things: art, conduct, faithfulness and truth.

25. The Master said, A holy man I shall not live to see; enough could I find a gentleman! A good man I shall not live to see; enough could I find a steadfast one! But when nothing poses as something, cloud as substance and want as riches, it is hard indeed to be steadfast!

26. The Master angled, but he did not fish with a net; he shot, but not at birds sitting.

27. The Master said, There may be men that do things without knowing why. I do not. To hear much, pick out the good and follow it; to see much and think it over; this comes next to wisdom.

28. To talk to the Hu village was hard. When a lad was seen by the Master, the disciples doubted.

The Master said, I allow his coming, not what he does later. Why be so harsh? If a man cleans himself to come in, I admit his cleanness, but do not warrant his past.

[Footnote 69: In 495 B.C., during Confucius's wanderings, Huan T'ui sent a band of men to kill him; but why he did so is not known.]

29. The Master said, Is love so far a thing? I long for love, and lo! love is come.

30. A judge of Ch'en asked whether Duke Chao[70] knew good form.

Confucius answered, He knew good form.

After Confucius had left, the judge beckoned Wu-ma Ch'i[71] to him, and said, I had heard that gentlemen are of no party, but do they, too, take sides? This lord married a Wu, whose name was the same as his, and called her Miss Tzu of Wu: if he knew good form, who does not know good form?

When Wu-ma Ch'i told the Master this he said, How lucky I am! If I go wrong, men are sure to know it!

31. When anyone sang to the Master, and sang well, he made him sing it again and joined in.

32. The Master said, I have no more reading than others; to live as a gentleman is not yet mine.

33. The Master said, How dare I lay claim to holiness or love? A man of endless craving, who never tires of teaching, I might be called, but that is all.

That is just what we disciples cannot learn, said Kung-hsi Hua.

34. When the Master was very ill, Tzu-lu asked leave to pray.

Is it done? said the Master.

[Footnote 70: Duke Chao of Lu (+ 510 B.C.) was the duke that first employed Confucius. It is against Chinese custom for a man to marry a girl whose surname is the same as his.]

[Footnote 71: A disciple of Confucius.]

It is, answered Tzu-lu. The Memorials say, Pray to the spirits above and to the Earth below.

The Master said, Long-lasting has my prayer been.

35. The Master said, Waste makes men unruly, thrift makes them mean; but they are better mean than unruly.

36. The Master said, A gentleman is calm and spacious; the small man is always fretting.

37. The Master's manner was warm yet dignified. He was stern, but not fierce; humble, yet easy.


1. The Master said, T'ai-po[72] may be said to have carried nobility furthest. Thrice he refused all below heaven. Men were at a loss how to praise him.

2. The Master said, Without good form attentions grow into fussiness, heed becomes fearfulness, daring becomes unruliness, frankness becomes rudeness. When gentlemen are true to kinsfolk, love will thrive among the people; if they do not forsake old friends, the people will not steal.

3. When Tseng-tzu lay sick he called his disciples and said, Uncover my feet, uncover my arms. The poem says,

As if a deep gulf Were yawning below, As crossing thin ice, Take heed how ye go.

My little children, I have known how to keep myself unhurt until now and hereafter.[73]

4. When Tseng-tzu was sick Meng Ching[74] came to ask after him.

[Footnote 72: T'ai-po was the eldest son of the King of Chou. The father wished his third son to succeed him, so that the throne might pass later to his grandson, afterwards known as King Wen. To enable this plan to be carried out T'ai-po and his second brother went into exile.]

[Footnote 73: The Chinese say: 'The body is born whole by the mother; it should be returned whole by the son.']

[Footnote 74: Chief of the Meng clan, minister of Lu.]

Tseng-tzu said, When a bird is dying his notes are sad; when man is dying his words are good. Three branches of the Way are dear to a gentleman: To banish from his bearing violence and disdain; to sort his face to the truth, and to banish from his speech what is low or unseemly. The ritual of chalice and platter[75] has servitors to see to it.

5. Tseng-tzu said, When we can, to ask those that cannot; when we are more, to ask those that are less; having, to seem wanting; real, to seem shadow; when gainsaid, never answering back; I had a friend[76] once that could do thus.

6. Tseng-tzu said, A man to whom an orphan, a few feet high, or the fate of an hundred towns, may be entrusted, and whom no crisis can corrupt, is he not a gentleman, a gentleman indeed?

7. Tseng-tzu said, The knight had need be strong and bold; for his burden is heavy, the way is far. His burden is love, is it not a heavy one? No halt before death, is that not far?

8. The Master said, Poetry rouses us, we stand upon courtesy, music is our crown.

9. The Master said, The people may be made to follow, we cannot make them understand.

10. The Master said, Love of daring and hatred of poverty lead to crime; a man without love, if he is sorely harassed, turns to crime.

11. The Master said, All the comely gifts of the Duke of Chou,[77] coupled with pride and meanness, would not be worth a glance.

[Footnote 75: For sacrifice.]

[Footnote 76: Probably Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 77: See Book VII, Sec. 5.]

12. The Master said, A man to whom three years of learning have borne no fruit would be hard to find.

13. The Master said, A man of simple faith, who loves learning, who guards and betters his way unto death, will not enter a tottering kingdom, nor stay in a lawless land. When all below heaven follows the Way, he is seen; when it loses the Way, he is unseen. While his land keeps the Way, he is ashamed to be poor and lowly; but when his land has lost the Way, wealth and honours shame him.

14. The Master said, When out of place, discuss not policy.

15. The Master said, In the first days of the music-master Chih how the hubbub[78] of the Kuan-chue rose sea beyond sea! How it filled the ear!

16. The Master said, Of men that are zealous, but not straight; dull, but not simple; helpless, but not truthful, I will know nothing.

17. The Master said, Learn as though the time were short, like one that fears to lose.

18. The Master said, How wonderful were Shun[2] and Yue[2]! To have all below heaven was nothing to them!

19. The Master said, How great a lord was Yao[79]! Wonderful! Heaven alone is great; Yao alone was patterned on it. Vast, boundless! Men's words failed them. The wonder of the work done by him! The flame of his art and precepts!

[Footnote 78: The last part of the music, when all the instruments were played together.]

[Footnote 79: See Introduction.]

20. Shun had five ministers, and there was order below heaven.

King Wu[80] said, I have ten uncommon ministers.

Confucius said, 'The dearth of talent,' is not that the truth? When Yue[81] followed T'ang[82] the times were rich in talent; yet there were but nine men in all, and one woman. In greatness of soul we may say that Chou[83] was highest: he had two-thirds of all below heaven and bent it to the service of Yin.

21. The Master said, I see no flaw in Yue. He ate and drank little, yet he was lavish in piety to the ghosts and spirits. His clothes were bad, but in his cap and gown he was fair indeed. His palace buildings were poor, yet he gave his whole strength to dykes and ditches. No kind of flaw can I see in Yue.

[Footnote 80: See Introduction.]

[Footnote 81: Shun.]

[Footnote 82: Yao.]

[Footnote 83: King Wen, Duke of Chou.]


1. The Master seldom spake of gain, or love, or the Bidding.

2. A man of the village of Ta-hsiang said, The great Confucius, with his vast learning, has made no name in anything.

When the Master heard this, he said to his disciples, What shall I take up? Shall I take up driving, or shall I take up shooting? I shall take up driving.

3. The Master said, A linen cap is good form; now silk is worn. It is cheap, so I follow the many. To bow below is good form; now it is done above. This is arrogance, so, breaking with the many, I still bow below.

4. From four things the Master was quite free: by-ends and 'must' and 'shall' and 'I.'

5. When he was afraid in K'uang,[84] the Master said, Since the death of King Wen, is not the seat of culture here? If Heaven had meant to destroy our culture, a later mortal would have had no part in it. Until Heaven condemns our culture, what can the men of K'uang do to me?

6. A high minister said to Tzu-kung, The Master must be a holy man, he can do so many things!

[Footnote 84: During the Master's wanderings. K'uang is said to have been a small state near Lu which had been oppressed by Yang Huo. Confucius resembled him, and the men of K'uang set upon him, mistaking him for their enemy. The commentators say that the Master was not afraid, only 'roused to a sense of danger.' I cannot find that the text says so.]

Tzu-kung said, Heaven has, indeed, given him so much that he is almost holy, and he can do many things, too.

When the Master heard this, he said, Does the minister know me? Because I was poor when young, I can do many paltry things. But does doing many things make a gentleman? No, not doing many does.

Lao said, The Master would say, As I had no post I learned the crafts.

7. The Master said, Have I in truth wisdom? I have no wisdom. But when a common fellow emptily asks me anything, I tap it on this side and that, and sift it to the bottom.

8. The Master said, The phoenix comes not, the River gives forth no sign: all is over with me!

9. When the Master saw folk clad in mourning, or in cap and gown, or a blind man, he always rose—even for the young,—or, if he was passing them, he quickened his step.

10. Yen Yuean heaved a sigh, and said, As I look up it grows higher, deeper as I dig! I catch sight of it ahead, and on a sudden it is behind me! The Master leads men on, deftly bit by bit. He widens me with culture, he binds me with courtesy. If I wished to stop I could not until my strength were spent. What seems the mark stands near; but though I long to reach it, I find no way.

11. When the Master was very ill, Tzu-lu made the disciples act as ministers.

During a better spell the Master said, Yu has long been feigning. This show of ministers, when I have no ministers, whom will it take in? Will Heaven be taken in? And is it not better to die in the arms of my two-three boys than to die in the arms of ministers? And, if I miss a big burial, shall I die by the roadside?

12. Tzu-kung said, If I had here a fair piece of jade, should I hide it away in a case, or seek a good price and sell it?

Sell it, sell it! said the Master. I tarry for my price.

13. The Master wished to dwell among the nine tribes.[85]

[Footnote 85: In the east of Shantung.]

One said, They are low; how could ye?

The Master said, Wherever a gentleman lives, will there be anything low?

14. The Master said. After I came back from Wei to Lu the music was set straight and each song found its place.

15. The Master said, To serve dukes and ministers abroad and father and brothers at home; in matters of mourning not to dare to be slack; and to be no thrall to wine: to which of these have I won?

16. As he stood by a stream, the Master said, Hasting away like this, day and night, without stop!

17. The Master said, I have seen no one that loves mind as he loves looks.

18. The Master said, In making a mound, if I stop when one more basket would finish it, I stop. When flattening ground, if, after overturning one basket, I go on, I go ahead.

19. The Master said, Never listless when spoken to, such was Hui.[86]

20. Speaking of Yen Yuean, the Master said, The pity of it! I saw him go on, but I never saw him stop!

21. The Master said, Some sprouts do not blossom, some blossoms bear no fruit!

22. The Master said, Awe is due to youth. May not to-morrow be bright as to-day? To men of forty or fifty, who are still unknown, no awe is due.

23. The Master said, Who would not give ear to a downright word? But to mend is better. Who would not be pleased by a guiding word? But to think it out is better. With such as are pleased but do not think out, or who listen but do not mend, I can do nothing.

24. The Master said, Put faithfulness and truth first; have no friends unlike thyself; be not ashamed to mend thy faults.

25. The Master said, Three armies may be robbed of their leader, no wretch can be robbed of his will.

26. The Master said, Yu[87] is the man to stand, clad in a worn-out quilted gown, unashamed, amid robes of fox and badger!

Without hatred or greed, What but good does he do?

But when Tzu-lu was everlastingly humming these words, the Master said, This is the way towards it, but how much short of goodness itself!

[Footnote 86: Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 87: Tzu-lu.]

27. The Master said, Erst the cold days show how fir and cypress are last to fade.

28. The Master said, Wisdom has no doubts; love does not fret; the bold have no fears.

29. The Master said, With some we can learn together, but we cannot go their way; we can go the same way with others, though our standpoint is not the same; and with some, though our standpoint is the same our weights and scales are not.


The blossoms of the plum tree Are dancing in play; My thoughts are with thee, In thy home far away.

The Master said, Her thoughts were not with him, or how could he be far away?


1. Among his own country folk Confucius wore a homely look, like one that has no word to say.

In the ancestral temple and at court his speech was full, but cautious.

2. At court he talked frankly to men of low rank, winningly to men of high rank. When the king was there, he looked intent and solemn.

3. When the king bade him receive guests, his face seemed to change and his legs to bend. He bowed left and right to those beside him, straightened his robes in front and behind, and swept forward, with arms spread like wings. When the guest had left, he brought back word, saying, The guest is no longer looking.

4. As he went in at the palace gate he stooped, as though it were too low for him. He did not stand in the middle of the gate, or step on the threshold.

When he passed the throne, his face seemed to change and his legs to bend: he spake with bated breath. As he went up the hall to audience, he lifted his robes, bowed his back, and masked his breathing till it seemed to stop. As he came down, he relaxed his face below the first step and looked pleased. From the foot of the steps he swept forward with arms spread like wings; and when he was back in his seat, he looked intent as before.

5. When he carried the sceptre, his back bent, as under too heavy a burden; he lifted it no higher than in bowing and no lower than in making a gift. His face changed, as it will with fear, and he dragged his feet, as though they were fettered.

When he offered his present his manner was formal; but at the private audience he was cheerful.

6. The gentleman was never decked in violet or mauve; even at home he would not wear red or purple.

In hot weather he wore an unlined linen gown, but always over other clothes.

With lamb-skin he wore black, with fawn, white, and with fox-skin, yellow. At home he wore a long fur gown, with the right sleeve short.

His nightgown was always half as long again as his body.

In the house he wore thick fur, of fox or badger.

When he was not in mourning there was nothing missing from his girdle.

Except for sacrificial dress, he was sparing of stuff.

He did not wear lamb's fur, or a black cap, on a mourning visit.

At the new moon he always put on court dress and went to court.

7. On his days of abstinence he always wore linen clothes of a pale colour; and he changed his food and moved from his wonted seat.

8. He did not dislike well-cleaned rice or hash chopped small. He did not eat sour or mouldy rice, bad fish, or tainted flesh. He did not eat anything that had a bad colour or that smelt bad, or food that was badly cooked or out of season. Food that was badly cut or served with the wrong sauce he did not eat. However much flesh there might be, it could not conquer his taste for rice. To wine alone he set no limit, but he did not drink enough to muddle him. He did not drink bought wine, or eat ready-dried market meat. He never went without ginger at a meal. He did not eat much.

After a sacrifice at the palace he did not keep the flesh over-night. He never kept sacrificial flesh more than three days. If it had been kept longer it was not eaten.

He did not talk at meals, nor speak when he was in bed.

Even at a meal of coarse rice, or herb broth, or gourds, he made his offering with all reverence.

9. If his mat was not straight, he would not sit down.

10. When the villagers were drinking wine, as those that walked with a staff left, he left too.

At the village exorcisms he put on court dress and stood on the east steps.

11. When sending a man with enquiries to another land, he bowed twice to him and saw him out.

When K'ang gave him some drugs, he bowed, accepted them, and said, I have never taken them; I dare not taste them.

12. On coming back from court after his stables had been burnt, the Master said, Is anyone hurt? He did not ask about the horses.

13. When the king sent him cooked meat, he put his mat straight, and tasted it first; when he sent him raw flesh, he had it cooked, and offered it to the spirits; when he sent him a live beast, he kept it alive.

When he ate in attendance on the king, the king made the offering, he tasted things first.

When he was sick and the king came to see him, he lay with his head to the east, with his court dress over him and his girdle across it.

When he was called by the king's bidding, he walked, without waiting for his carriage.

14. On going into the Great Temple he asked about everything.

15. When a friend died, who had no home to go to, he said, It is for me to bury him.

When friends sent him anything, even a carriage and horses, he never bowed, unless the gift was sacrificial flesh.

16. He did not sleep like a corpse. At home he unbent.

Even if he knew him well, his face changed when he saw a mourner. Even when he was in undress, if he saw anyone in full dress, or a blind man, he looked grave.

To men in deep mourning and to the census-bearers he bowed over the cross-bar.

Before choice meats he rose with changed look. At sharp thunder, or a fierce wind, his look changed.

17. When mounting his carriage he stood straight and grasped the cord. When he was in it, he did not look round, or speak fast, or point.

18. Seeing a man's face, she rose, flew round and settled. The Master said, Hen pheasant on the ridge, it is the season, it is the season.

Tzu-lu went towards her: she sniffed thrice and rose.[88]

[Footnote 88: This passage cannot belong here. It is corrupt and unintelligible.]


1. The Master said, Savages! the men that first went into courtesy and music! Gentlemen! those that went into them later! My use is to follow the first lead in both.

2. The Master said, Not one of my followers in Ch'en or Ts'ai comes any more to my door! Yen Yuean, Min Tzu-ch'ien, Jan Po-niu and Chung-kung were men of noble life; Tsai Wo and Tzu-kung were the talkers; Jan Yu and Chi-lu were statesmen; Tzu-yu and Tzu-hsia, men of arts and learning.

3. The Master said, I get no help from Hui.[89] No word I say but delights him!

4. The Master said, How good a son is Min Tzu-ch'ien! No one finds fault with anything that his father, or his mother, or his brethren say of him.

5. Nan Jung would thrice repeat The Sceptre White.[90] Confucius gave him his brother's daughter for wife.

6. Chi K'ang asked which disciples loved learning. Confucius answered, There was Yen Hui[91] loved learning. Alas! his mission was short, he died. Now there is no one.

[Footnote 89: Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 90: The verse runs—

A flaw can be ground From a sceptre white; A slip of the tongue No man can right. ]

[Footnote 91: Yen Yuean.]

7. When Yen Yuean died, Yen Lu[92] asked for the Master's carriage to furnish an outer coffin.

The Master said, Brains or no brains, each of us speaks of his son. When Li[93] died he had an inner but not an outer coffin: I would not go on foot to furnish an outer coffin. As I follow in the wake of the ministers I cannot go on foot.

8. When Yen Yuean died the Master said, Woe is me! Heaven has undone me! Heaven has undone me!

9. When Yen Yuean died the Master gave way to grief.

His followers said, Sir, ye are giving way.

The Master said, Am I giving way? If I did not give way for this man, for whom should I give way to grief?

10. When Yen Yuean died the disciples wished to bury him in pomp.

The Master said, This must not be.

The disciples buried him in pomp.

The Master said, Hui treated me as his father. I have failed to treat him as a son. No, not I; but ye, my two-three boys.

11. Chi-lu[94] asked what is due to the ghosts of the dead?

The Master said, When we cannot do our duty to the living, how can we do it to the dead?

He dared to ask about death.

We know not life, said the Master, how can we know death?

[Footnote 92: The father of Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 93: The Master's son.]

[Footnote 94: Tzu-lu.]

12. Seeing the disciple Min standing at his side with winning looks, Tzu-lu with warlike front, Jan Yu and Tzu-kung frank and free, the Master's heart was glad.

A man like Yu,[95] he said, dies before his day.

13. The men of Lu were building the Long Treasury.

Min Tzu-ch'ien said, Would not the old one do? Why must it be rebuilt?

The Master said, That man does not talk, but when he speaks he hits the mark.

14. The Master said, What has the lute of Yu[96] to do, twanging at my door?

But when the disciples looked down on Tzu-lu, the Master said, Yu has come up into hall, but he has not yet entered the inner rooms.

15. Tzu-kung asked, Which is the better, Shih[97] or Shang[98]?

The Master said, Shih goes too far, Shang not far enough.

Then is Shih the better? said Tzu-kung.

Too far, said the Master, is no nearer than not far enough.

16. The Chi was richer than the Duke of Chou; yet Ch'iu[99] became his tax-gatherer and made him still richer.

[Footnote 95: Tzu-lu. This prophecy came true. Tzu-lu and Tzu-kao were officers of Wei when troubles arose. Tzu-lu hastened to the help of his master. He met Tzu-kao withdrawing from the danger, and was advised to do the same. But Tzu-lu would not desert the man whose pay he drew. He plunged into the fight and was killed.]

[Footnote 96: Tzu-lu.]

[Footnote 97: The disciple Tzu-chang.]

[Footnote 98: The disciple Tzu-hsia.]

[Footnote 99: The disciple Jan Yu.]

He is no disciple of mine, said the Master. My little children, ye may beat your drums and make war on him.

17. Ch'ai[100] is simple, Shen[101] is dull, Shih[102] is smooth, Yu[103] is coarse.

18. The Master said, Hui[104] is almost faultless, and he is often empty. Tz'u[105] will not bow to the Bidding, and he heaps up riches; but his views are often sound.

19. Tzu-chang asked, What is the way of a good man?

The Master said, He does not tread the beaten track; and yet he does not enter the inner rooms.

20. The Master said, Commend a man for plain speaking: he may prove a gentleman, or else but seeming honest.

21. Tzu-lu said, Shall I do all I am taught?

The Master said, Whilst thy father and elder brothers live, how canst thou do all thou art taught?

Jan Yu asked, Shall I do all I am taught?

The Master said, Do all thou art taught.

Kung-hsi Hua said, Yu[106] asked, Shall I do all I am taught? and ye said, Sir, Whilst thy father and elder brothers live. Ch'iu[107] asked, Shall I do all I am taught? and ye said, Sir, Do all thou art taught. I am in doubt, and dare to ask you, Sir.

[Footnote 100: The disciple Kao Ch'ai]

[Footnote 101: The disciple Tseng-tzu.]

[Footnote 102: The disciple Tzu-chang.]

[Footnote 103: The disciple Tzu-lu.]

[Footnote 104: The disciple Yen Yuean.]

[Footnote 105: The disciple Tzu-kung.]

[Footnote 106: Tzu-lu.]

[Footnote 107: Jan Yu.]

The Master said, Ch'iu is bashful, so I egged him on; Yu is twice a man, so I held him back.

22. When the Master was in fear in K'uang, Yen Yuean fell behind.

The Master said, I held thee for dead.

He answered, Whilst my Master lives how should I dare to die?

23. Chi Tzu-jan[108] asked whether Chung Yu[2] or Jan Ch'iu[3] could be called a great minister.

The Master said, I thought ye would ask me a riddle, Sir, and ye ask about Yu[109] and Ch'iu.[110] He that holds to the Way in serving his lord and leaves when he cannot do so, we call a great minister. Now Yu and Ch'iu I should call tools.

Who are just followers then?

Nor would they follow, said the Master, if told to kill their lord or father.

24. Tzu-lu made Tzu-kao governor of Pi.

The Master said, Thou art undoing a man's son.

Tzu-lu said, What with the people and the spirits of earth and corn, must a man read books to become learned?

The Master said, This is why I hate a glib tongue.

25. The Master said to Tzu-lu, Tseng Hsi,[111] Jan Yu and Kung-hsi Hua as they sat beside him, I may be a day older than you, but forget that. Ye are wont to say, I am unknown. Well, if ye were known, what would ye do?

[Footnote 108: The younger brother of Chi Huan, the head of the Chi clan.]

[Footnote 109: Tzu-lu. He and Jan Yu had taken office under the Chi.]

[Footnote 110: Jan Yu.]

[Footnote 111: A disciple: the father of Tseng-tzu.]

Tzu-lu answered lightly. Give me a land of a thousand chariots, crushed between great neighbours, overrun by soldiers and searched by famine, and within three years I could put courage into it and high purpose.

The Master smiled.

What wouldst thou do, Ch'iu[112]? he said.

He answered, Give me a land of sixty or seventy, or fifty or sixty square miles, and within three years I could give the people plenty. As for courtesy and music, they would wait the coming of a gentleman.

And what wouldst thou do, Ch'ih[113]?

He answered, I do not speak of what I can do, but of what I should like to learn. At services in the Ancestral Temple, or at the Grand Audience, I should like to fill a small part.

And what wouldst thou do, Tien[114]?

Tien stopped playing, pushed his still sounding lute aside, rose and answered, My choice would be unlike those of the other three.

What harm in that? said the Master. Each but spake his mind.

In the last days of spring, all clad for the springtime, with five or six young men and six or seven lads, I would bathe in the Yi, be fanned by the wind in the Rain God's glade, and go back home singing.

The Master said with a sigh, I side with Tien.

Tseng Hsi stayed after the other three had left, and said, What did ye think, Sir, of what the three disciples said?

[Footnote 112: Jan Yu.]

[Footnote 113: Kung-hsi Hua.]

[Footnote 114: Tseng Hsi.]

Each but spake his mind, said the Master.

Why did ye smile at Yu,[115] Sir?

Lands are swayed by courtesy, but what he said was not modest. That was why I smiled. Yet did not Ch'iu speak of a state? Where would sixty or seventy, or fifty or sixty, square miles be found that are not a state? And did not Ch'ih too speak of a state? Who but great vassals are there in the Ancestral Temple, or at the Grand Audience? But if Ch'ih were to take a small part, who could fill a big one?

[Footnote 115: Tzu-lu.]


1. Yen Yuean asked, What is love?

The Master said, Love is to conquer self and turn to courtesy. If we could conquer self and turn to courtesy for one day, all below heaven would turn to love. Does love flow from within, or does it flow from others?

Yen Yuean said, May I ask what are its signs?

The Master said, To be always courteous of eye and courteous of ear; to be always courteous in word and courteous in deed.

Yen Yuean said, Though I am not clever, I hope to live by these words.

2. Chung-kung asked, What is love?

The Master said, Without the door to behave as though a great guest were come; to treat the people as though we tendered the great sacrifice; not to do unto others what we would not they should do unto us; to breed no wrongs in the state and breed no wrongs in the home.

Chung-kung said, Though I am not clever, I hope to live by these words.

3. Ssu-ma Niu[116] asked, What is love?

The Master said, Love is slow to speak.

To be slow to speak! Can that be called love?

The Master said, Can that which is hard to do be lightly spoken?

[Footnote 116: A disciple.]

4. Ssu-ma Niu asked, What is a gentleman?

The Master said, A gentleman knows neither sorrow nor fear.

No sorrow and no fear! Can that be called a gentleman?

The Master said. He searches his heart: it is blameless; so why should he sorrow, what should he fear?

5. Ssu-ma Niu cried sadly, All men have brothers, I alone have none!

Tzu-hsia said, I have heard that life and death are allotted, that wealth and honours are in Heaven's hand. A gentleman is careful and does not trip; he is humble towards others and courteous. All within the four seas are brethren; how can a gentleman lament that he has none?

6. Tzu-chang asked, What is insight?

The Master said, Not to be moved by lap and wash of slander, or by plaints that pierce to the quick, may be called insight. Yea, whom lap and wash of slander, or plaints that pierce to the quick cannot move may be called far-sighted.

7. Tzu-kung asked, What is kingcraft?

The Master said, Food enough, troops enough, and the trust of the people.

Tzu-kung said, If it had to be done, which could best be spared of the three?

Troops, said the Master.

And if we had to, which could better be spared of the other two?

Food, said the Master. From of old all men die, but without trust a people cannot stand.

8. Chi Tzu-ch'eng[117] said, It is the stuff alone that makes a gentleman; what can art do for him?

Alas! my lord, said Tzu-kung, how ye speak of a gentleman! No team overtakes the tongue! The art is no less than the stuff, the stuff is no less than the art. Without the fur, a tiger or a leopard's hide is no better than the hide of a dog or a goat.

9. Duke Ai said to Yu Jo,[118] In this year of dearth I have not enough for my wants; what should be done?

Ye might tithe the people, answered Yu Jo.

A fifth is not enough, said the Duke, how could I do with a tenth?

When all his folk have enough, answered Yu Jo, shall the lord alone not have enough? When none of his folk have enough, shall the lord alone have enough?

10. Tzu-chang asked how to raise the mind and scatter delusions.

The Master said, Put faithfulness and truth first, and follow the right; the mind will be raised. We wish life to what we love and death to what we hate. To wish it both life and death is a delusion.

Whether prompted by wealth, or not, Yet ye made a distinction.

[Footnote 117: Minister of Wei.]

[Footnote 118: A disciple of Confucius.]

11. Ching,[119] Duke of Ch'i, asked Confucius, What is kingcraft?

Confucius answered. For the lord to be lord and the liege, liege, the father to be father and the son, son.

True indeed! said the Duke. If the lord were no lord and the liege no liege, the father no father and the son no son, though the grain were there, could I get anything to eat?

12. The Master said, To stint a quarrel with half a word Yu[120] is the man.

Tzu-lu never slept over a promise.

13. The Master said, At hearing lawsuits I am no better than others. What is needed is to stop lawsuits.

14. Tzu-chang asked, What is kingcraft?

The Master said, To be tireless of thought and faithful in doing.

15. The Master said, Breadth of reading and the ties of courtesy will keep us, too, from false paths.

16. The Master said, A gentleman shapes the good in man, he does not shape the bad in him. The small man does the contrary.

17. Chi K'ang[121] asked Confucius how to rule.

Confucius answered, To rule is to set straight. If ye give a straight lead, Sir, who will dare not go straight?

[Footnote 119: Confucius was in Ch'i in 517 B.C. The duke was over-shadowed by his ministers and thought of setting aside his eldest son.]

[Footnote 120: Tzu-lu.]

[Footnote 121: On the death of Chi Huan, his brother Chi K'ang set aside Chi Huan's small son and made himself head of the clan.]

18. Chi K'ang being troubled by robbers asked Confucius about it.

Confucius answered, If ye did not wish it, Sir, though ye rewarded him no man would steal.

19. Chi K'ang, speaking of kingcraft to Confucius, said, To help those that follow the Way, should we kill the men that will not?

Confucius answered, Sir, what need has a ruler to kill? If ye wished for goodness, Sir, the people would be good. The gentleman's mind is the wind, and grass are the minds of small men: as the wind blows, so must the grass bend.

20. Tzu-chang asked, What must a knight be, for him to be called eminent?

The Master said, What dost thou mean by eminence?

Tzu-chang answered, To be famous in the state and famous in his home.

That is fame, not eminence, said the Master. The eminent man is plain and straight, and loves right. He weighs words and scans looks; he takes pains to come down to men. And he shall be eminent in the state and eminent in his house. The famous man wears a mask of love, but his deeds belie it. Self-confident and free from doubts, fame will be his in the state and fame be his in his home.

21. Whilst walking with the Master in the Rain God's glade Fan Ch'ih said to him, May I ask how to raise the mind, amend evil and scatter errors?

Well asked! said the Master. Rank thy work above success, will not the mind be raised? Fight the bad in thee, not the bad in other men, will not evil be mended? One angry morning to forget both self and kin, is that no error?

22. Fan Ch'ih asked, What is love?

The Master said, To love men.

He asked, What is wisdom?

The Master said, To know men.

Fan Ch'ih did not understand.

The Master said, Lift up the straight, put by the crooked, and crooked men will grow straight.

Fan Ch'ih withdrew, and seeing Tzu-hsia, said to him, The Master saw me and I asked him what wisdom is. He answered, Lift up the straight, put by the crooked, and crooked men will grow straight. What did he mean?

How rich a saying! said Tzu-hsia. When Shun[122] had all below heaven he chose Kao-yao from the many, lifted him up, and the men without love fled. When T'ang[123] had all below heaven, he chose Yi-yin[124] from the many, lifted him up, and the men without love fled.

[Footnote 122: An emperor of the golden age.]

[Footnote 123: The founder of the Shang, or Yin, dynasty.]

[Footnote 124: T'ang's chief minister. Yi-yin said, Whomsoever I serve, is he not my lord? Whomsoever I rule, are they not my people? He came in when there was order, and came in too when there were tumults. He said, When Heaven begat the people, the man that first understood was sent to waken those slow to understand, and the man that first woke was sent to waken those slow to wake. I am he that woke first among Heaven's people. With the help of the Way, I shall wake the people! For man or wife, of all the people below heaven, to have missed the blessings of Yao and Shun was the same, he thought, as if he himself had pushed him into the ditch. The burden he shouldered was the weight of all below heaven. (Mencius, Book X, chapter 1.)]

23. Tzu-kung asked about friends.

The Master said, Talk faithfully to them, and guide them well. If this is no good, stop. Do not bring shame upon thee.

24. Tseng-tzu said, A gentleman gathers friends by culture, and stays love with friendship.


1. Tzu-lu asked how to rule.

The Master said, Go before; work hard.

When asked to say more, he said, Never flag.

2. When he was steward of the Chi, Chung-kung asked how to rule.

The Master said, Let officers act first; overlook small faults, lift up brains and worth.

Chung-kung said, How shall I get to know brains and worth to lift them up?

Lift up those thou dost know, said the Master; and those thou dost not know, will other men pass by?

3. Tzu-lu said, The lord of Wei[125] waits for you, Sir, to govern. How shall ye begin?

Surely, said the Master, by putting names right.

Indeed, said Tzu-lu, that is far-fetched, Sir. Why put them right?

What a savage Yu[126] is! said the Master. A gentleman is tongue-tied when he does not understand. If names are not right, words do not fit. If words do not fit, affairs go wrong. If affairs go wrong, neither courtesy nor music thrive. If courtesy and music do not thrive, law and justice fail. And if law and justice fail them, the people can move neither hand nor foot. So a gentleman must be ready to put names into speech and words into deed. A gentleman is nowise careless of his words.

[Footnote 125: See note to Book VII, Sec. 14. Tzu-lu was his officer.]

[Footnote 126: Tzu-lu.]

4. Fan Ch'ih asked to be taught husbandry.

The Master said. An old husbandman knows more than I do.

He asked to be taught gardening.

The Master said. An old gardener knows more than I do.

After Fan Ch'ih had gone, the Master said, How small a man! If those above love courtesy, no one will dare to slight them; if they love right, no one will dare to disobey; if they love truth, no one will dare to hide the heart. Then, from the four corners of the earth, folk will gather with their children on their backs; and what need will there be for husbandry?

5. The Master said, Though a man have conned three hundred poems, if he stands helpless when put to govern, if he cannot answer for himself when he is sent to the four corners of the earth, many as they are, what have they done for him?

6. The Master said, The man of upright life is obeyed before he speaks; commands even go unheeded when the life is crooked.

7. The Master said, The governments of Lu and Wei are brothers.

8. Speaking of Ching, of the ducal house of Wei, the Master said, He was wise in his private life. When he had begun to save, he said, This seems enough. When he grew better off, he said, This seems plenty. When he had grown rich, he said. This seems splendour.

9. When Jan Yu was driving him to Wei, the Master said. What numbers!

Jan Yu said, Since numbers are here, what next is needed?

Wealth, said the Master.

And what comes next after wealth?

Teaching, said the Master.

10. The Master said, If I were employed for a twelve-month, much could be done. In three years all would be ended.

11. The Master said, If good men were to govern a land for an hundred years, cruelty would be conquered and putting to death done away with. How true are these words!

12. The Master said, Even if a king were to govern, a lifetime would pass before love dawned!

13. The Master said, What is governing to a man that can rule himself? If he cannot rule himself, how shall he rule others?

14. As the disciple Jan[127] came back from court, the Master said to him. Why so late?

I had business of state, he answered.

Household business, said the Master. If it had been business of state, though I am out of office, I should have heard of it.

15. Duke Ting asked, Is there any one saying that can bless a kingdom?

[Footnote 127: Jan Yu. He was in the service of the Chi, not of the Duke of Lu.]

Confucius answered, That is more than words can do. But men have a saying, To be lord is hard and to be minister is not easy. And if one knew how hard it is to be lord, might not this one saying almost bless a kingdom?

And is there any one saying that can wreck a kingdom?

That is more than words can do, Confucius answered. But men have a saying, My only delight in being lord is that no one withstands what I say. Now if what he says is good, and no one withstands him, is not that good too? But if it is not good, and no one withstands him, might not this one saying almost wreck a kingdom?

16. The Duke of She asked, What is kingcraft?

The Master answered, For those near us to be happy and those far off to come.

17. When he was governor of Chue-fu, Tzu-hsia asked how to rule.

The Master said, Be not eager for haste; look not for small gains. Nothing done in haste is thorough, and looking for small gains big things are left undone.

18. The Duke of She told Confucius, Among the upright men of my clan if the father steals a sheep his son bears witness.

Confucius answered, Our clan's uprightness is unlike that. The father screens his son and the son screens his father. There is uprightness in this.

19. Fan Ch'ih asked, What is love?

The Master said, To be humble at home, earnest at work, and faithful to all. Even among wild tribes none of this must be dropped.

20. Tzu-kung asked, What is it that we call knighthood?

The Master said, To be called a knight, a man must be shamefast in all that he does, if he is sent to the four corners of the earth he must not disgrace his lord's commands.

May I ask who would come next?

He that his clansmen call a good son and his neighbours call modest.

And who would come next?

A man that clings to his word and sticks to his course, a flinty little fellow, would perhaps come next.

And how are the crown servants of to-day?

What! The weights and measures men! said the Master. Are they worth reckoning?

21. The Master said, As I cannot get men of the middle way I have to fall back on zealous and austere men. Zealous men push ahead and take things up, and there are things that austere men will not do.

22. The Master said, The men of the south have a saying, 'Unless he is stable a man will make neither a wizard nor a leech.' This is true. 'His instability of mind may disgrace him.'

The Master said, Neglect of the omens, that is all.

23. The Master said, Gentlemen unite, but are not the same. Small men are all the same, but each for himself.

24. Tzu-kung said, If the whole countryside loved a man, how would that be?

It would not do, said the Master.

And how would it be, if the whole countryside hated him?

It would not do, said the Master. It would be better if all the good men of the countryside loved him and all the bad men hated him.

25. The Master said, A gentleman is easy to serve and hard to please. If we go from the Way to please him, he is not pleased; but his commands are measured to the man. A small man is hard to serve and easy to please. Though we go from the Way to please him, he is pleased; but he expects everything of his men.

26. The Master said, A gentleman is high-minded, not proud; the small man is proud, but not high-minded.

27. The Master said, Strength and courage, simplicity and modesty are akin to love.

28. Tzu-lu asked, When can a man be called a knight?

The Master said, To be earnest, encouraging and kind may be called knighthood: earnest and encouraging with his friends, and kind to his brothers.

29. The Master said, If a good man taught the people for seven years, they would be fit to bear arms too.

30. The Master said, To take untaught men to war is called throwing them away.


1. Hsien[128] asked, What is shame?

The Master said, To draw pay when the land keeps the Way and to draw pay when it has lost the Way, is shame.

2. To eschew strife and bragging, spite and greed, would that be love?

The Master said, That may be hard to do; but I do not know that it is love.

3. The Master said, A knight that is fond of ease does not amount to a knight.

4. The Master said, Whilst the land keeps the Way, be fearless of speech and fearless in deed; when the land has lost the Way, be fearless in deed but soft of speech.

5. The Master said, A man of mind can always talk, but talkers are not always men of mind. Love is always bold, though boldness is found without love.

6. Nan-kung Kuo said to Confucius, Yi[129] shot well, Ao pushed a boat over land: each died before his time. Yue and Chi toiled at their crops, and had all below heaven.

The Master did not answer. But when Nan-kung Kuo had gone, he said, What a gentleman he is! How he honours mind!

[Footnote 128: The disciple Yuean Ssu.]

[Footnote 129: Yi was killed by his best pupil, who said to himself, In all the world no one but Yi shoots better than I do. So he killed him.]

7. The Master said, Alas! there have been gentlemen without love! But there has never been a small man that was not wanting in love.

8. The Master said, Can he love thee that never tasks thee? Can he be faithful that never chides?

9. The Master said, The decrees were drafted by P'i Shen, criticised by Shih-shu, polished by the Foreign Minister Tzu-yue, and given the final touches by Tzu-ch'an of Tung-li.

10. When he was asked what he thought of Tzu-ch'an, the Master said, A kind-hearted man.

Asked what he thought of Tzu-hsi, the Master said, Of him! What I think of him!

Asked what he thought of Kuan Chung,[130] the Master said, He was the man that drove the Po from the town of Pien with its three hundred households to end his days on coarse rice, without his muttering a word.

[Footnote 130: See note to Book III, Sec. 22.]

11. The Master said, Not to grumble at being poor is hard, not to be proud of wealth is easy.

12. The Master said, Meng Kung-ch'o is more than fit to be steward of Chao or Wei, but he could not be minister of T'eng or Hsieh.

13. Tzu-lu asked what would make a full-grown man.

The Master said, The wisdom of Tsang Wu-chung, Kung-ch'o's lack of greed, Chuang of Pien's boldness and the skill of Jan Ch'iu, graced by courtesy and music, might make a full-grown man.

But now, he said, who asks the like of a full-grown man? He that in sight of gain thinks of right, who when danger looms stakes his life, who, though the bond be old, does not forget what he has been saying all his life, might make a full-grown man.

14. Speaking of Kung-shu Wen, the Master said to Kung-ming Chia, Is it true that thy master does not speak, nor laugh, nor take a gift?

Kung-ming Chia answered, That is saying too much. My master only speaks when the time comes, so no one tires of his speaking; he only laughs when he is merry, so no one tires of his laughter; he only takes when it is right to take, so no one tires of his taking.

It may be so, said the Master; but is it?

15. The Master said, When he held Fang and asked Lu to appoint an heir, though Tsang Wu-chung said he was not forcing his lord, I do not believe it.

16. The Master said, Duke Wen of Chin was deep, but dishonest; Duke Huan of Ch'i was honest, but shallow.

17. Tzu-lu said, When Duke Huan slew the young duke Chiu, and Shao Hu died with him, but Kuan Chung did not, was not this want of love?[131]

[Footnote 131: Chiu and Huan were brothers, sons of the Duke of Ch'i. When their father died, their uncle seized the throne. To preserve the rightful heir, Shao Hu and Kuan Chung fled with Chiu to Lu, whilst Huan escaped to another state. Later on the usurper was murdered, and Huan returned to Ch'i and secured the throne. He then required the Duke of Lu to kill his brother and deliver up to him Shao Hu and Kuan Chung. This was done. But on the way to Ch'i Shao Hu killed himself. Kuan Chung, on the other hand, took service under Duke Huan, became his chief minister, and raised the state to greatness. (See note to Book III, Sec. 22.)]

The Master said, Duke Huan gathered the great vassals round him, not by chariots of war, but through the might of Kuan Chung. What can love do more? What can love do more?

18. Tzu-kung said, When Duke Huan slew the young duke Chiu, and Kuan Chung could not face death and even became his minister, surely he showed want of love?

The Master said, By Kuan Chung helping Duke Huan to put down the great vassals and make all below heaven one, men have fared the better from that day to this. But for Kuan Chung our hair would hang down our backs and our coats would button to the left; or should he, like the bumpkin and his lass, their troth to keep, have drowned in a ditch, unknown to anyone?

19. The minister Hsien, who had been steward to Kung-shu Wen, went to audience of the Duke together with Wen.

When the Master heard of it, he said, He is rightly called Wen (well-bred).

20. The Master spake of Ling Duke of Wei's contempt for the Way.

K'ang[132] said, If this be so, how does he escape ruin?

Confucius answered, With Chung-shu Yue in charge of the guests, the reader T'o in charge of the Ancestral Temple, and Wang-sun Chia in charge of the troops, how should he come to ruin?

21. The Master said, When words are unblushing, they are hard to make good.

[Footnote 132: Chi K'ang.]

22. Ch'en Ch'eng murdered Duke Chien.[133]

Confucius bathed, and went to court and told Duke Ai, saying, Ch'en Heng has murdered his lord: pray, punish him.

The Duke said, Tell the three chiefs.

Confucius said, As I follow in the wake of the ministers, I dared not leave this untold; but the lord says, Tell the three chiefs.

He told the three chiefs. It did no good.

Confucius said, As I follow in the wake of the ministers, I dared not leave this untold.

23. Tzu-lu asked how to serve a lord.

The Master said, Never cheat him; stand up to him.

24. The Master said, A gentleman's life leads upwards; the small man's life leads down.

25. The Master said, The men of old learned for their own sake; to-day men learn for show.

26. Ch'ue Po-yue sent a man to Confucius.

As they sat together, Confucius asked him, What does your master do?

He answered, My master wishes to make his faults fewer, but cannot.

When the messenger had left, the Master said, A messenger, a messenger indeed!

27. The Master said, When not in office discuss not policy.

[Footnote 133: 481 B.C., two years before the death of Confucius, who was not at the time in office. Chien was Duke of Ch'i, a state bordering on Lu. The three chiefs were the heads of the three great clans that were all-powerful in Lu.]

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