Confucius – The Sayings Of Confucius eBook – Full Transcription

//Confucius – The Sayings Of Confucius eBook – Full Transcription
  • Confucius - The Sayings Of Confucius

Confucius – The Sayings Of Confucius eBook – Full Transcription

The Sayings Of Confucius

Author: Confucius




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 Yü, 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

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 Yüan, 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

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_

* * * * *





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

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 _ö_, or
much as _u_ in English l_u_ck.

_ao_ rhymes approximately with h_ow_
_ei_ ” ” ” th_ey_
_ou_ ” ” ” th_ough_
_uo_ ” ” ” p_oo_r,

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

* * * * *






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

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

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

[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 Yüan.]

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

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

[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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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 Yü[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 Yüan.][Footnote 44: The disciple Tsai Wo.]

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

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 Yü.

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

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

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 Yüan 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

Yen Yüan said, I should like to make no boast of talent or show or

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





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 Yüan.][Footnote 50: The disciple Kung-hsi Hua, or Kung-hsi Ch’ih.][Footnote 51: Kung-hei Ch’ih.]

When Yüan 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 Yüan.][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 Yüan.][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

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

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

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 Yüan, 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, § 22.][Footnote 68: An abstruse, ancient classic, usually called the Book of

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

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

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

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 Yüan.][Footnote 77: See Book VII, § 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-chü rose sea beyond sea! How it filled the

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 Yü[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
Yü[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 Yü. 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 Yü.

[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

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

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 Yüan 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

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

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

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 Yüan, 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

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

[Footnote 86: Yen Yüan.][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

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

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

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

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

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





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 Yüan, 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 Yüan.][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 Yüan.]

7. When Yen Yüan 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 Yüan died the Master said, Woe is me! Heaven has undone
me! Heaven has undone me!

9. When Yen Yüan 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 Yüan 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 Yüan.][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

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 Yüan.][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 Yüan 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

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

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 Yüan 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

Yen Yüan 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 Yüan 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 125: See note to Book VII, § 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 Chü-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 Confu