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Written ca. 500 B.C.E
The Master said, "A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving
the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old
The Master said, "The silent treasuring up of knowledge; learning
without satiety; and instructing others without being wearied:-which one
of these things belongs to me?"
The Master said, "The leaving virtue without proper cultivation;
the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to move towards
righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and not being able to change
what is not good:-these are the things which occasion me
When the Master was unoccupied with business, his manner was easy,
and he looked pleased.
The Master said, "Extreme is my decay. For a long time, I have
not dreamed, as I was wont to do, that I saw the duke of
The Master said, "Let the will be set on the path of
"Let every attainment in what is good be firmly
"Let perfect virtue be accorded with.
"Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite
The Master said, "From the man bringing his bundle of dried flesh for
my teaching upwards, I have never refused instruction to any
The Master said, "I do not open up the truth to one who is not
eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain
himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and
he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my
When the Master was eating by the side of a mourner, he never ate
to the full.
He did not sing on the same day in which he had been
The Master said to Yen Yuan, "When called to office, to undertake its
duties; when not so called, to he retired;-it is only I and you who have
attained to this."
Tsze-lu said, "If you had the conduct of the armies of a great
state, whom would you have to act with you?"
The Master said, "I would not have him to act with me, who will
unarmed attack a tiger, or cross a river without a boat, dying without
any regret. My associate must be the man who proceeds to action full of
solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans, and then carries them into
The Master said, "If the search for riches is sure to be successful,
though I should become a groom with whip in hand to get them, I will do
so. As the search may not be successful, I will follow after that which
The things in reference to which the Master exercised the greatest
caution were-fasting, war, and sickness.
When the Master was in Ch'i, he heard the Shao, and for three months
did not know the taste of flesh. "I did not think'" he said, "that music
could have been made so excellent as this."
Yen Yu said, "Is our Master for the ruler of Wei?" Tsze-kung said,
"Oh! I will ask him."
He went in accordingly, and said, "What sort of men were Po-i and
Shu-ch'i?" "They were ancient worthies," said the Master. "Did they have
any repinings because of their course?" The Master again replied, "They
sought to act virtuously, and they did so; what was there for them to repine
about?" On this, Tsze-kung went out and said, "Our Master is not for
The Master said, "With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink,
and my bended arm for a pillow;-I have still joy in the midst of these
things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness, are to me as a floating
The Master said, "If some years were added to my life, I would
give fifty to the study of the Yi, and then I might come to be without
The Master's frequent themes of discourse were-the Odes, the History,
and the maintenance of the Rules of Propriety. On all these he frequently
The Duke of Sheh asked Tsze-lu about Confucius, and Tsze-lu did
not answer him.
The Master said, "Why did you not say to him,-He is simply a man,
who in his eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food, who in the joy
of its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that old
age is coming on?"
The Master said, "I am not one who was born in the possession of
knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it
The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were-extraordinary
things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings.
The Master said, "When I walk along with two others, they may serve
me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them,
their bad qualities and avoid them."
The Master said, "Heaven produced the virtue that is in me. Hwan
T'ui-what can he do to me?"
The Master said, "Do you think, my disciples, that I have any concealments?
I conceal nothing from you. There is nothing which I do that is not shown
to you, my disciples; that is my way."
There were four things which the Master taught,-letters, ethics,
devotion of soul, and truthfulness.
The Master said, "A sage it is not mine to see; could I see a man
of real talent and virtue, that would satisfy me."
The Master said, "A good man it is not mine to see; could I see
a man possessed of constancy, that would satisfy me.
"Having not and yet affecting to have, empty and yet affecting
to be full, straitened and yet affecting to be at ease:-it is difficult
with such characteristics to have constancy."
The Master angled,-but did not use a net. He shot,-but not at birds
The Master said, "There may be those who act without knowing why.
I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good and following it;
seeing much and keeping it in memory: this is the second style of
It was difficult to talk profitably and reputably with the people
of Hu-hsiang, and a lad of that place having had an interview with the
Master, the disciples doubted.
The Master said, "I admit people's approach to me without committing
myself as to what they may do when they have retired. Why must one be so
severe? If a man purify himself to wait upon me, I receive him so purified,
without guaranteeing his past conduct."
The Master said, "Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous,
and lo! virtue is at hand."
The minister of crime of Ch'an asked whether the duke Chao knew
propriety, and Confucius said, "He knew propriety."
Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch'i to come
forward, and said, "I have heard that the superior man is not a partisan.
May the superior man be a partisan also? The prince married a daughter
of the house of WU, of the same surname with himself, and called her,-'The
elder Tsze of Wu.' If the prince knew propriety, who does not know
Wu-ma Ch'i reported these remarks, and the Master said, "I am fortunate!
If I have any errors, people are sure to know them."
When the Master was in company with a person who was singing, if
he sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while he accompanied it
with his own voice.
The Master said, "In letters I am perhaps equal to other men, but
the character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he
professes, is what I have not yet attained to."
The Master said, "The sage and the man of perfect virtue;-how dare
I rank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that I strive to
become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness." Kung-hsi
Hwa said, "This is just what we, the disciples, cannot imitate you
The Master being very sick, Tsze-lu asked leave to pray for him.
He said, "May such a thing be done?" Tsze-lu replied, "It may. In the Eulogies
it is said, 'Prayer has been made for thee to the spirits of the upper
and lower worlds.'" The Master said, "My praying has been for a long
The Master said, "Extravagance leads to insubordination, and parsimony
to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be insubordinate."
The Master said, "The superior man is satisfied and composed; the
mean man is always full of distress."
The Master was mild, and yet dignified; majestic, and yet not fierce;
respectful, and yet easy.
The Master said, "T'ai-po may be said to have reached the highest
point of virtuous action. Thrice he declined the kingdom, and the people
in ignorance of his motives could not express their approbation of his
The Master said, "Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety,
becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety,
becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination;
straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes
"When those who are in high stations perform well all their duties
to their relations, the people are aroused to virtue. When old friends
are not neglected by them, the people are preserved from
The philosopher Tsang being ill, he cared to him the disciples
of his school, and said, "Uncover my feet, uncover my hands. It is said
in the Book of Poetry, 'We should be apprehensive and cautious, as if on
the brink of a deep gulf, as if treading on thin ice, I and so have I been.
Now and hereafter, I know my escape from all injury to my person. O ye,
my little children."
The philosopher Tsang being ill, Meng Chang went to ask how he
Tsang said to him, "When a bird is about to die, its notes are mournful;
when a man is about to die, his words are good.
"There are three principles of conduct which the man of high rank
should consider specially important:-that in his deportment and manner
he keep from violence and heedlessness; that in regulating his countenance
he keep near to sincerity; and that in his words and tones he keep far
from lowness and impropriety. As to such matters as attending to the sacrificial
vessels, there are the proper officers for them."
The philosopher Tsang said, "Gifted with ability, and yet putting
questions to those who were not so; possessed of much, and yet putting
questions to those possessed of little; having, as though he had not; full,
and yet counting himself as empty; offended against, and yet entering into
no altercation; formerly I had a friend who pursued this style of
The philosopher Tsang said, "Suppose that there is an individual
who can be entrusted with the charge of a young orphan prince, and can
be commissioned with authority over a state of a hundred li, and whom no
emergency however great can drive from his principles:-is such a man a
superior man? He is a superior man indeed."
The philosopher Tsang said, "The officer may not be without breadth
of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and his course is
"Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his to sustain;-is
it not heavy? Only with death does his course stop;-is it not
The Master said, "It is by the Odes that the mind is
"It is by the Rules of Propriety that the character is
"It is from Music that the finish is received."
The Master said, "The people may be made to follow a path of action,
but they may not be made to understand it."
The Master said, "The man who is fond of daring and is dissatisfied
with poverty, will proceed to insubordination. So will the man who is not
virtuous, when you carry your dislike of him to an extreme."
The Master said, "Though a man have abilities as admirable as those
of the Duke of Chau, yet if he be proud and niggardly, those other things
are really not worth being looked at."
The Master said, "It is not easy to find a man who has learned
for three years without coming to be good."
The Master said, "With sincere faith he unites the love of learning;
holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence of his
"Such an one will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell in a disorganized
one. When right principles of government prevail in the kingdom, he will
show himself; when they are prostrated, he will keep
"When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition
are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and
honor are things to be ashamed of."
The Master said, "He who is not in any particular office has nothing
to do with plans for the administration of its duties."
The Master said, "When the music master Chih first entered on his
office, the finish of the Kwan Tsu was magnificent;-how it filled the
The Master said, "Ardent and yet not upright, stupid and yet not
attentive; simple and yet not sincere:-such persons I do not
The Master said, "Learn as if you could not reach your object,
and were always fearing also lest you should lose it."
The Master said, "How majestic was the manner in which Shun and
Yu held possession of the empire, as if it were nothing to
The Master said, "Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign! How majestic
was he! It is only Heaven that is grand, and only Yao corresponded to it.
How vast was his virtue! The people could find no name for
"How majestic was he in the works which he accomplished! How glorious
in the elegant regulations which he instituted!"
Shun had five ministers, and the empire was well
King Wu said, "I have ten able ministers."
Confucius said, "Is not the saying that talents are difficult to find,
true? Only when the dynasties of T'ang and Yu met, were they more abundant
than in this of Chau, yet there was a woman among them. The able ministers
were no more than nine men.
"King Wan possessed two of the three parts of the empire, and with
those he served the dynasty of Yin. The virtue of the house of Chau may
be said to have reached the highest point indeed."
The Master said, "I can find no flaw in the character of Yu. He
used himself coarse food and drink, but displayed the utmost filial piety
towards the spirits. His ordinary garments were poor, but he displayed
the utmost elegance in his sacrificial cap and apron. He lived in a low,
mean house, but expended all his strength on the ditches and water channels.
I can find nothing like a flaw in Yu."
The subjects of which the Master seldom spoke were-profitableness,
and also the appointments of Heaven, and perfect virtue.
A man of the village of Ta-hsiang said, "Great indeed is the philosopher
K'ung! His learning is extensive, and yet he does not render his name famous
by any particular thing."
The Master heard the observation, and said to his disciples, "What
shall I practice? Shall I practice charioteering, or shall I practice archery?
I will practice charioteering."
The Master said, "The linen cap is that prescribed by the rules
of ceremony, but now a silk one is worn. It is economical, and I follow
the common practice.
"The rules of ceremony prescribe the bowing below the hall, but
now the practice is to bow only after ascending it. That is arrogant. I
continue to bow below the hall, though I oppose the common
There were four things from which the Master was entirely free.
He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations, no obstinacy,
and no egoism.
The Master was put in fear in K'wang.
He said, "After the death of King Wan, was not the cause of truth lodged
here in me?
"If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I,
a future mortal! should not have got such a relation to that cause. While
Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of K'wang
do to me?"
A high officer asked Tsze-kung, saying, "May we not say that your
Master is a sage? How various is his ability!"
Tsze-kung said, "Certainly Heaven has endowed him unlimitedly.
He is about a sage. And, moreover, his ability is various."
The Master heard of the conversation and said, "Does the high officer
know me? When I was young, my condition was low, and I acquired my ability
in many things, but they were mean matters. Must the superior man have
such variety of ability? He does not need variety of ability. Lao said,
"The Master said, 'Having no official employment, I acquired many
The Master said, "Am I indeed possessed of knowledge? I am not
knowing. But if a mean person, who appears quite empty-like, ask anything
of me, I set it forth from one end to the other, and exhaust
The Master said, "The Fang bird does not come; the river sends
forth no map:-it is all over with me!"
When the Master saw a person in a mourning dress, or any one with
the cap and upper and lower garments of full dress, or a blind person,
on observing them approaching, though they were younger than himself, he
would rise up, and if he had to pass by them, he would do so
Yen Yuan, in admiration of the Master's doctrines, sighed and said,
"I looked up to them, and they seemed to become more high; I tried to penetrate
them, and they seemed to become more firm; I looked at them before me,
and suddenly they seemed to be behind.
"The Master, by orderly method, skillfully leads men on. He enlarged
my mind with learning, and taught me the restraints of
"When I wish to give over the study of his doctrines, I cannot
do so, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something to stand
right up before me; but though I wish to follow and lay hold of it, I really
find no way to do so."
The Master being very ill, Tsze-lu wished the disciples to act
as ministers to him.
During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the conduct
of Yu been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when I have them
not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon
"Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is
it not better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples? And
though I may not get a great burial, shall I die upon the
Tsze-kung said, "There is a beautiful gem here. Should I lay it
up in a case and keep it? or should I seek for a good price and sell it?"
The Master said, "Sell it! Sell it! But I would wait for one to offer the
The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes
of the east.
Some one said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?" The
Master said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness would there
The Master said, "I returned from Wei to Lu, and then the music
was reformed, and the pieces in the Royal songs and Praise songs all found
their proper places."
The Master said, "Abroad, to serve the high ministers and nobles;
at home, to serve one's father and elder brothers; in all duties to the
dead, not to dare not to exert one's self; and not to be overcome of wine:-which
one of these things do I attain to?"
The Master standing by a stream, said, "It passes on just like
this, not ceasing day or night!"
The Master said, "I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves
The Master said, "The prosecution of learning may be compared to
what may happen in raising a mound. If there want but one basket of earth
to complete the work, and I stop, the stopping is my own work. It may be
compared to throwing down the earth on the level ground. Though but one
basketful is thrown at a time, the advancing with it my own going
The Master said, "Never flagging when I set forth anything to him;-ah!
that is Hui." The Master said of Yen Yuan, "Alas! I saw his constant advance.
I never saw him stop in his progress."
The Master said, "There are cases in which the blade springs, but
the plant does not go on to flower! There are cases where it flowers but
fruit is not subsequently produced!"
The Master said, "A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do
we know that his future will not be equal to our present? If he reach the
age of forty or fifty, and has not made himself heard of, then indeed he
will not be worth being regarded with respect."
The Master said, "Can men refuse to assent to the words of strict
admonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of them which is valuable.
Can men refuse to be pleased with words of gentle advice? But it is unfolding
their aim which is valuable. If a man be pleased with these words, but
does not unfold their aim, and assents to those, but does not reform his
conduct, I can really do nothing with him."
The Master said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you have faults, do not fear
to abandon them."
The Master said, "The commander of the forces of a large state
may be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be taken from
The Master said, "Dressed himself in a tattered robe quilted with
hemp, yet standing by the side of men dressed in furs, and not ashamed;-ah!
it is Yu who is equal to this!
"He dislikes none, he covets nothing;-what can he do but what is
Tsze-lu kept continually repeating these words of the ode, when
the Master said, "Those things are by no means sufficient to constitute
The Master said, "When the year becomes cold, then we know how
the pine and the cypress are the last to lose their
The Master said, "The wise are free from perplexities; the virtuous
from anxiety; and the bold from fear."
The Master said, "There are some with whom we may study in common,
but we shall find them unable to go along with us to principles. Perhaps
we may go on with them to principles, but we shall find them unable to
get established in those along with us. Or if we may get so established
along with them, we shall find them unable to weigh occurring events along
"How the flowers of the aspen-plum flutter and turn! Do I not think
of you? But your house is distant."
The Master said, "It is the want of thought about it. How is it
Confucius, in his village, looked simple and sincere, and as if
he were not able to speak.
When he was in the prince's ancestral temple, or in the court,
he spoke minutely on every point, but cautiously.
When he was waiting at court, in speaking with the great officers
of the lower grade, he spoke freely, but in a straightforward manner; in
speaking with those of the higher grade, he did so blandly, but
When the ruler was present, his manner displayed respectful uneasiness;
it was grave, but self-possessed.
When the prince called him to employ him in the reception of a
visitor, his countenance appeared to change, and his legs to move forward
He inclined himself to the other officers among whom he stood,
moving his left or right arm, as their position required, but keeping the
skirts of his robe before and behind evenly adjusted.
He hastened forward, with his arms like the wings of a
When the guest had retired, he would report to the prince, "The visitor
is not turning round any more."
When he entered the palace gate, he seemed to bend his body, as
if it were not sufficient to admit him.
When he was standing, he did not occupy the middle of the gateway;
when he passed in or out, he did not tread upon the
When he was passing the vacant place of the prince, his countenance
appeared to change, and his legs to bend under him, and his words came
as if he hardly had breath to utter them.
He ascended the reception hall, holding up his robe with both his
hands, and his body bent; holding in his breath also, as if he dared not
When he came out from the audience, as soon as he had descended
one step, he began to relax his countenance, and had a satisfied look.
When he had got the bottom of the steps, he advanced rapidly to his place,
with his arms like wings, and on occupying it, his manner still showed
When he was carrying the scepter of his ruler, he seemed to bend
his body, as if he were not able to bear its weight. He did not hold it
higher than the position of the hands in making a bow, nor lower than their
position in giving anything to another. His countenance seemed to change,
and look apprehensive, and he dragged his feet along as if they were held
by something to the ground.
In presenting the presents with which he was charged, he wore a
At his private audience, he looked highly pleased.
The superior man did not use a deep purple, or a puce color, in the
ornaments of his dress.
Even in his undress, he did not wear anything of a red or reddish
In warm weather, he had a single garment either of coarse or fine
texture, but he wore it displayed over an inner garment.
Over lamb's fur he wore a garment of black; over fawn's fur one
of white; and over fox's fur one of yellow.
The fur robe of his undress was long, with the right sleeve
He required his sleeping dress to be half as long again as his
When staying at home, he used thick furs of the fox or the
When he put off mourning, he wore all the appendages of the
His undergarment, except when it was required to be of the curtain
shape, was made of silk cut narrow above and wide below.
He did not wear lamb's fur or a black cap on a visit of
On the first day of the month he put on his court robes, and presented
himself at court.
When fasting, he thought it necessary to have his clothes brightly
clean and made of linen cloth.
When fasting, he thought it necessary to change his food, and also
to change the place where he commonly sat in the apartment.
He did not dislike to have his rice finely cleaned, nor to have
his mince meat cut quite small.
He did not eat rice which had been injured by heat or damp and
turned sour, nor fish or flesh which was gone. He did not eat what was
discolored, or what was of a bad flavor, nor anything which was ill-cooked,
or was not in season.
He did not eat meat which was not cut properly, nor what was served
without its proper sauce.
Though there might be a large quantity of meat, he would not allow
what he took to exceed the due proportion for the rice. It was only in
wine that he laid down no limit for himself, but he did not allow himself
to be confused by it.
He did not partake of wine and dried meat bought in the
He was never without ginger when he ate. He did not eat
When he had been assisting at the prince's sacrifice, he did not keep
the flesh which he received overnight. The flesh of his family sacrifice
he did not keep over three days. If kept over three days, people could
not eat it.
When eating, he did not converse. When in bed, he did not
Although his food might be coarse rice and vegetable soup, he would
offer a little of it in sacrifice with a grave, respectful
If his mat was not straight, he did not sit on
When the villagers were drinking together, upon those who carried staffs
going out, he also went out immediately after.
When the villagers were going through their ceremonies to drive
away pestilential influences, he put on his court robes and stood on the
When he was sending complimentary inquiries to any one in another
state, he bowed twice as he escorted the messenger away.
Chi K'ang having sent him a present of physic, he bowed and received
it, saying, "I do not know it. I dare not taste it."
The stable being burned down, when he was at court, on his return
he said, "Has any man been hurt?" He did not ask about the
When the he would adjust his mat, first taste it, and then give
it away to others. When the prince sent him a gift of undressed meat, he
would have it cooked, and offer it to the spirits of his ancestors. When
the prince sent him a gift of a living animal, he would keep it
When he was in attendance on the prince and joining in the entertainment,
the prince only sacrificed. He first tasted everything.
When he was ill and the prince came to visit him, he had his head
to the east, made his court robes be spread over him, and drew his girdle
When the prince's order called him, without waiting for his carriage
to be yoked, he went at once.
When he entered the ancestral temple of the state, he asked about
When any of his friends died, if he had no relations offices, he
would say, "I will bury him."
When a friend sent him a present, though it might be a carriage
and horses, he did not bow.
The only present for which he bowed was that of the flesh of
In bed, he did not lie like a corpse. At home, he did not put on
any formal deportment.
When he saw any one in a mourning dress, though it might be an
acquaintance, he would change countenance; when he saw any one wearing
the cap of full dress, or a blind person, though he might be in his undress,
he would salute him in a ceremonious manner.
To any person in mourning he bowed forward to the crossbar of his
carriage; he bowed in the same way to any one bearing the tables of
When he was at an entertainment where there was an abundance of
provisions set before him, he would change countenance and rise
On a sudden clap of thunder, or a violent wind, he would change
When he was about to mount his carriage, he would stand straight,
holding the cord.
When he was in the carriage, he did not turn his head quite round,
he did not talk hastily, he did not point with his hands.
Seeing the countenance, it instantly rises. It flies round, and
by and by settles.
The Master said, "There is the hen-pheasant on the hill bridge.
At its season! At its season!" Tsze-lu made a motion to it. Thrice it smelt
him and then rose.
The Master said, "The men of former times in the matters of ceremonies
and music were rustics, it is said, while the men of these latter times,
in ceremonies and music, are accomplished gentlemen.
"If I have occasion to use those things, I follow the men of former
The Master said, "Of those who were with me in Ch'an and Ts'ai,
there are none to be found to enter my door."
Distinguished for their virtuous principles and practice, there
were Yen Yuan, Min Tsze-ch'ien, Zan Po-niu, and Chung-kung; for their ability
in speech, Tsai Wo and Tsze-kung; for their administrative talents, Zan
Yu and Chi Lu; for their literary acquirements, Tsze-yu and
The Master said, "Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing
that I say in which he does not delight."
The Master said, "Filial indeed is Min Tsze-ch'ien! Other people
say nothing of him different from the report of his parents and
Nan Yung was frequently repeating the lines about a white scepter
stone. Confucius gave him the daughter of his elder brother to
Chi K'ang asked which of the disciples loved to learn. Confucius
replied to him, "There was Yen Hui; he loved to learn. Unfortunately his
appointed time was short, and he died. Now there is no one who loves to
learn, as he did."
When Yen Yuan died, Yen Lu begged the carriage of the Master to
sell and get an outer shell for his son's coffin.
The Master said, "Every one calls his son his son, whether he has
talents or has not talents. There was Li; when he died, he had a coffin
but no outer shell. I would not walk on foot to get a shell for him, because,
having followed in the rear of the great officers, it was not proper that
I should walk on foot."
When Yen Yuan died, the Master said, "Alas! Heaven is destroying
me! Heaven is destroying me!"
When Yen Yuan died, the Master bewailed him exceedingly, and the
disciples who were with him said, "Master, your grief is
"Is it excessive?" said he. "If I am not to mourn bitterly for
this man, for whom should I mourn?"
When Yen Yuan died, the disciples wished to give him a great funeral,
and the Master said, "You may not do so."
The disciples did bury him in great style.
The Master said, "Hui behaved towards me as his father. I have not
been able to treat him as my son. The fault is not mine; it belongs to
you, O disciples."
Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master
said, "While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?"
Chi Lu added, "I venture to ask about death?" He was answered, "While you
do not know life, how can you know about death?"
The disciple Min was standing by his side, looking bland and precise;
Tsze-lu, looking bold and soldierly; Zan Yu and Tsze-kung, with a free
and straightforward manner. The Master was pleased.
He said, "Yu, there!-he will not die a natural
Some parties in Lu were going to take down and rebuild the Long
Min Tsze-ch'ien said, "Suppose it were to be repaired after its
old style;-why must it be altered and made anew?"
The Master said, "This man seldom speaks; when he does, he is sure
to hit the point."
The Master said, "What has the lute of Yu to do in my
The other disciples began not to respect Tszelu. The Master said, "Yu
has ascended to the hall, though he has not yet passed into the inner
Tsze-kung asked which of the two, Shih or Shang, was the superior.
The Master said, "Shih goes beyond the due mean, and Shang does not come
up to it."
"Then," said Tsze-kung, "the superiority is with Shih, I
The Master said, "To go beyond is as wrong as to fall
The head of the Chi family was richer than the duke of Chau had been,
and yet Ch'iu collected his imposts for him, and increased his
The Master said, "He is no disciple of mine. My little children,
beat the drum and assail him."
Ch'ai is simple. Shan is dull. Shih is specious. Yu is
The Master said, "There is Hui! He has nearly attained to perfect virtue.
He is often in want.
"Ts'ze does not acquiesce in the appointments of Heaven, and his
goods are increased by him. Yet his judgments are often
Tsze-chang asked what were the characteristics of the good man.
The Master said, "He does not tread in the footsteps of others, but moreover,
he does not enter the chamber of the sage."
The Master said, "If, because a man's discourse appears solid and
sincere, we allow him to be a good man, is he really a superior man? or
is his gravity only in appearance?"
Tsze-lu asked whether he should immediately carry into practice
what he heard. The Master said, "There are your father and elder brothers
to be consulted;-why should you act on that principle of immediately carrying
into practice what you hear?" Zan Yu asked the same, whether he should
immediately carry into practice what he heard, and the Master answered,
"Immediately carry into practice what you hear." Kung-hsi Hwa said, "Yu
asked whether he should carry immediately into practice what he heard,
and you said, 'There are your father and elder brothers to be consulted.'
Ch'iu asked whether he should immediately carry into practice what he heard,
and you said, 'Carry it immediately into practice.' I, Ch'ih, am perplexed,
and venture to ask you for an explanation." The Master said, "Ch'iu is
retiring and slow; therefore I urged him forward. Yu has more than his
own share of energy; therefore I kept him back."
The Master was put in fear in K'wang and Yen Yuan fell behind.
The Master, on his rejoining him, said, "I thought you had died." Hui replied,
"While you were alive, how should I presume to die?"
Chi Tsze-zan asked whether Chung Yu and Zan Ch'iu could be called
The Master said, "I thought you would ask about some extraordinary
individuals, and you only ask about Yu and Ch'iu!
"What is called a great minister, is one who serves his prince
according to what is right, and when he finds he cannot do so,
"Now, as to Yu and Ch'iu, they may be called ordinary
Tsze-zan said, "Then they will always follow their chief;-win
The Master said, "In an act of parricide or regicide, they would not
Tsze-lu got Tsze-kao appointed governor of Pi.
The Master said, "You are injuring a man's son."
Tsze-lu said, "There are, there, common people and officers; there
are the altars of the spirits of the land and grain. Why must one read
books before he can be considered to have learned?"
The Master said, "It is on this account that I hate your glib-tongued
Tsze-lu, Tsang Hsi, Zan Yu, and Kunghsi Hwa were sitting by the
He said to them, "Though I am a day or so older than you, do not
think of that.
"From day to day you are saying, 'We are not known.' If some ruler
were to know you, what would you like to do?"
Tsze-lu hastily and lightly replied, "Suppose the case of a state
of ten thousand chariots; let it be straitened between other large cities;
let it be suffering from invading armies; and to this let there be added
a famine in corn and in all vegetables:-if I were intrusted with the government
of it, in three years' time I could make the people to be bold, and to
recognize the rules of righteous conduct." The Master smiled at
Turning to Yen Yu, he said, "Ch'iu, what are your wishes?" Ch'iu
replied, "Suppose a state of sixty or seventy li square, or one of fifty
or sixty, and let me have the government of it;-in three years' time, I
could make plenty to abound among the people. As to teaching them the principles
of propriety, and music, I must wait for the rise of a superior man to
"What are your wishes, Ch'ih," said the Master next to Kung-hsi
Hwa. Ch'ih replied, "I do not say that my ability extends to these things,
but I should wish to learn them. At the services of the ancestral temple,
and at the audiences of the princes with the sovereign, I should like,
dressed in the dark square-made robe and the black linen cap, to act as
a small assistant."
Last of all, the Master asked Tsang Hsi, "Tien, what are your wishes?"
Tien, pausing as he was playing on his lute, while it was yet twanging,
laid the instrument aside, and "My wishes," he said, "are different from
the cherished purposes of these three gentlemen." "What harm is there in
that?" said the Master; "do you also, as well as they, speak out your wishes."
Tien then said, "In this, the last month of spring, with the dress of the
season all complete, along with five or six young men who have assumed
the cap, and six or seven boys, I would wash in the I, enjoy the breeze
among the rain altars, and return home singing." The Master heaved a sigh
and said, "I give my approval to Tien."
The three others having gone out, Tsang Hsi remained behind, and
said, "What do you think of the words of these three friends?" The Master
replied, "They simply told each one his wishes."
Hsi pursued, "Master, why did you smile at Yu?"
He was answered, "The management of a state demands the rules of propriety.
His words were not humble; therefore I smiled at him."
Hsi again said, "But was it not a state which Ch'iu proposed for
himself?" The reply was, "Yes; did you ever see a territory of sixty or
seventy li or one of fifty or sixty, which was not a
Once more, Hsi inquired, "And was it not a state which Ch'ih proposed
for himself?" The Master again replied, "Yes; who but princes have to do
with ancestral temples, and with audiences but the sovereign? If Ch'ih
were to be a small assistant in these services, who could be a great