The Master said of Kung-ye Ch'ang that he might be wived; although he was
put in bonds, he had not been guilty of any crime. Accordingly, he gave him his
own daughter to wife.
Of Nan Yung he said that if the country were well governed he would not be
out of office, and if it were in governed, he would escape punishment and
disgrace. He gave him the daughter of his own elder brother to wife.
The Master said of Tsze-chien, "Of superior virtue indeed is such a man! If
there were not virtuous men in Lu, how could this man have acquired this
Tsze-kung asked, "What do you say of me, Ts'ze!" The Master said, "You are a
utensil." "What utensil?" "A gemmed sacrificial utensil."
Some one said, "Yung is truly virtuous, but he is not ready with his
The Master said, "What is the good of being ready with the tongue? They who
encounter men with smartness of speech for the most part procure themselves
hatred. I know not whether he be truly virtuous, but why should he show
readiness of the tongue?"
The Master was wishing Ch'i-tiao K'ai to enter an official employment. He
replied, "I am not yet able to rest in the assurance of this." The Master was
The Master said, "My doctrines make no way. I will get upon a raft, and
float about on the sea. He that will accompany me will be Yu, I dare say." Tsze-
lu hearing this was glad, upon which the Master said, "Yu is fonder of daring
than I am. He does not exercise his judgment upon matters."
Mang Wu asked about Tsze-lu, whether he was perfectly virtuous. The Master
said, "I do not know."
He asked again, when the Master replied, "In a kingdom of a thousand
chariots, Yu might be employed to manage the military levies, but I do not know
whether he be perfectly virtuous."
"And what do you say of Ch'iu?" The Master replied, "In a city of a thousand
families, or a clan of a hundred chariots, Ch'iu might be employed as governor,
but I do not know whether he is perfectly virtuous."
"What do you say of Ch'ih?" The Master replied, "With his sash girt and
standing in a court, Ch'ih might be employed to converse with the visitors and
guests, but I do not know whether he is perfectly virtuous."
The Master said to Tsze-kung, "Which do you consider superior, yourself or
Tsze-kung replied, "How dare I compare myself with Hui? Hui hears one point
and knows all about a subject; I hear one point, and know a second."
The Master said, "You are not equal to him. I grant you, you are not equal
Tsai Yu being asleep during the daytime, the Master said, "Rotten wood
cannot be carved; a wall of dirty earth will not receive the trowel. This Yu,-
what is the use of my reproving him?"
The Master said, "At first, my way with men was to hear their words, and
give them credit for their conduct. Now my way is to hear their words, and look
at their conduct. It is from Yu that I have learned to make this change."
The Master said, "I have not seen a firm and unbending man." Some one
replied, "There is Shan Ch'ang." "Ch'ang," said the Master, "is under the
influence of his passions; how can he be pronounced firm and unbending?"
Tsze-kung said, "What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do
to men." The Master said, "Ts'ze, you have not attained to that."
Tsze-kung said, "The Master's personal displays of his principles and
ordinary descriptions of them may be heard. His discourses about man's nature,
and the way of Heaven, cannot be heard."
When Tsze-lu heard anything, if he had not yet succeeded in carrying it into
practice, he was only afraid lest he should hear something else.
Tsze-kung asked, saying, "On what ground did Kung-wan get that title of
The Master said, "He was of an active nature and yet fond of learning, and
he was not ashamed to ask and learn of his inferiors!-On these grounds he has
been styled Wan."
The Master said of Tsze-ch'an that he had four of the characteristics of a
superior man-in his conduct of himself, he was humble; in serving his superior,
he was respectful; in nourishing the people, he was kind; in ordering the people,
he was just."
The Master said, "Yen P'ing knew well how to maintain friendly intercourse.
The acquaintance might be long, but he showed the same respect as at first."
The Master said, "Tsang Wan kept a large tortoise in a house, on the
capitals of the pillars of which he had hills made, and with representations of
duckweed on the small pillars above the beams supporting the rafters.-Of what
sort was his wisdom?"
Tsze-chang asked, saying, "The minister Tsze-wan thrice took office, and
manifested no joy in his countenance. Thrice he retired from office, and
manifested no displeasure. He made it a point to inform the new minister of the
way in which he had conducted the government; what do you say of him?" The
Master replied. "He was loyal." "Was he perfectly virtuous?" "I do not know. How
can he be pronounced perfectly virtuous?"
Tsze-chang proceeded, "When the officer Ch'ui killed the prince of Ch'i,
Ch'an Wan, though he was the owner of forty horses, abandoned them and left the
country. Coming to another state, he said, 'They are here like our great officer,
Ch'ui,' and left it. He came to a second state, and with the same observation
left it also;-what do you say of him?" The Master replied, "He was pure." "Was
he perfectly virtuous?" "I do not know. How can he be pronounced perfectly
Chi Wan thought thrice, and then acted. When the Master was informed of it,
he said, "Twice may do."
The Master said, "When good order prevailed in his country, Ning Wu acted
the part of a wise man. When his country was in disorder, he acted the part of a
stupid man. Others may equal his wisdom, but they cannot equal his stupidity."
When the Master was in Ch'an, he said, "Let me return! Let me return! The
little children of my school are ambitious and too hasty. They are accomplished
and complete so far, but they do not know how to restrict and shape themselves."
The Master said, "Po-i and Shu-ch'i did not keep the former wickednesses of
men in mind, and hence the resentments directed towards them were few."
The Master said, "Who says of Weishang Kao that he is upright? One begged
some vinegar of him, and he begged it of a neighbor and gave it to the man."
The Master said, "Fine words, an insinuating appearance, and excessive
respect;-Tso Ch'iu-ming was ashamed of them. I also am ashamed of them. To
conceal resentment against a person, and appear friendly with him;-Tso Ch'iu-
ming was ashamed of such conduct. I also am ashamed of it."
Yen Yuan and Chi Lu being by his side, the Master said to them, "Come, let
each of you tell his wishes."
Tsze-lu said, "I should like, having chariots and horses, and light fur
clothes, to share them with my friends, and though they should spoil them, I
would not be displeased."
Yen Yuan said, "I should like not to boast of my excellence, nor to make a
display of my meritorious deeds."
Tsze-lu then said, "I should like, sir, to hear your wishes." The Master
said, "They are, in regard to the aged, to give them rest; in regard to friends,
to show them sincerity; in regard to the young, to treat them tenderly."
The Master said, "It is all over. I have not yet seen one who could perceive
his faults, and inwardly accuse himself."
The Master said, "In a hamlet of ten families, there may be found one
honorable and sincere as I am, but not so fond of learning."
The Master said, "There is Yung!-He might occupy the place of a prince."
Chung-kung asked about Tsze-sang Po-tsze. The Master said, "He may pass. He
does not mind small matters."
Chung-kung said, "If a man cherish in himself a reverential feeling of the
necessity of attention to business, though he may be easy in small matters in
his government of the people, that may be allowed. But if he cherish in himself
that easy feeling, and also carry it out in his practice, is not such an
easymode of procedure excessive?"
The Master said, "Yung's words are right."
The Duke Ai asked which of the disciples loved to learn.
Confucius replied to him, "There was Yen Hui; he loved to learn. He did not
transfer his anger; he did not repeat a fault. Unfortunately, his appointed time
was short and he died; and now there is not such another. I have not yet heard
of any one who loves to learn as he did."
Tsze-hwa being employed on a mission to Ch'i, the disciple Zan requested
grain for his mother. The Master said, "Give her a fu." Yen requested more.
"Give her a yi," said the Master. Yen gave her five ping.
The Master said, "When Ch'ih was proceeding to Ch'i, he had fat horses to
his carriage, and wore light furs. I have heard that a superior man helps the
distressed, but does not add to the wealth of the rich."
Yuan Sze being made governor of his town by the Master, he gave him nine
hundred measures of grain, but Sze declined them.
The Master said, "Do not decline them. May you not give them away in the
neighborhoods, hamlets, towns, and villages?"
The Master, speaking of Chung-kung, said, "If the calf of a brindled cow be
red and homed, although men may not wish to use it, would the spirits of the
mountains and rivers put it aside?"
The Master said, "Such was Hui that for three months there would be nothing
in his mind contrary to perfect virtue. The others may attain to this on some
days or in some months, but nothing more."
Chi K'ang asked about Chung-yu, whether he was fit to be employed as an
officer of government. The Master said, "Yu is a man of decision; what
difficulty would he find in being an officer of government?" K'ang asked, "Is
Ts'ze fit to be employed as an officer of government?" and was answered, "Ts'ze
is a man of intelligence; what difficulty would he find in being an officer of
government?" And to the same question about Ch'iu the Master gave the same reply,
saying, "Ch'iu is a man of various ability."
The chief of the Chi family sent to ask Min Tsze-ch'ien to be governor of Pi.
Min Tszech'ien said, "Decline the offer for me politely. If any one come again
to me with a second invitation, I shall be obliged to go and live on the banks
of the Wan."
Po-niu being ill, the Master went to ask for him. He took hold of his hand
through the window, and said, "It is killing him. It is the appointment of
Heaven, alas! That such a man should have such a sickness! That such a man
should have such a sickness!"
The Master said, "Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui! With a single
bamboo dish of rice, a single gourd dish of drink, and living in his mean narrow
lane, while others could not have endured the distress, he did not allow his joy
to be affected by it. Admirable indeed was the virtue of Hui!"
Yen Ch'iu said, "It is not that I do not delight in your doctrines, but my
strength is insufficient." The Master said, "Those whose strength is
insufficient give over in the middle of the way but now you limit yourself."
The Master said to Tsze-hsia, "Do you be a scholar after the style of the
superior man, and not after that of the mean man."
Tsze-yu being governor of Wu-ch'ang, the Master said to him, "Have you got
good men there?" He answered, "There is Tan-t'ai Miehming, who never in walking
takes a short cut, and never comes to my office, excepting on public business."
The Master said, "Mang Chih-fan does not boast of his merit. Being in the
rear on an occasion of flight, when they were about to enter the gate, he
whipped up his horse, saying, "It is not that I dare to be last. My horse would
The Master said, "Without the specious speech of the litanist T'o and the
beauty of the prince Chao of Sung, it is difficult to escape in the present
The Master said, "Who can go out but by the door? How is it that men will
not walk according to these ways?"
The Master said, "Where the solid qualities are in excess of accomplishments,
we have rusticity; where the accomplishments are in excess of the solid
qualities, we have the manners of a clerk. When the accomplishments and solid
qualities are equally blended, we then have the man of virtue."
The Master said, "Man is born for uprightness. If a man lose his uprightness,
and yet live, his escape from death is the effect of mere good fortune."
The Master said, "They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it,
and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it."
The Master said, "To those whose talents are above mediocrity, the highest
subjects may be announced. To those who are below mediocrity, the highest
subjects may not be announced."
Fan Ch'ih asked what constituted wisdom. The Master said, "To give one's
self earnestly to the duties due to men, and, while respecting spiritual beings,
to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom." He asked about perfect virtue.
The Master said, "The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his
first business, and success only a subsequent consideration;-this may be called
The Master said, "The wise find pleasure in water; the virtuous find
pleasure in hills. The wise are active; the virtuous are tranquil. The wise are
joyful; the virtuous are long-lived."
The Master said, "Ch'i, by one change, would come to the State of Lu. Lu, by
one change, would come to a State where true principles predominated."
The Master said, "A cornered vessel without corners-a strange cornered
vessel! A strange cornered vessel!"
Tsai Wo asked, saying, "A benevolent man, though it be told him,-'There is a
man in the well" will go in after him, I suppose." Confucius said, "Why should
he do so?" A superior man may be made to go to the well, but he cannot be made
to go down into it. He may be imposed upon, but he cannot be fooled."
The Master said, "The superior man, extensively studying all learning, and
keeping himself under the restraint of the rules of propriety, may thus likewise
not overstep what is right."
The Master having visited Nan-tsze, Tsze-lu was displeased, on which the
Master swore, saying, "Wherein I have done improperly, may Heaven reject me, may
Heaven reject me!"
The Master said, "Perfect is the virtue which is according to the Constant
Mean! Rare for a long time has been its practice among the people."
Tsze-kung said, "Suppose the case of a man extensively conferring benefits
on the people, and able to assist all, what would you say of him? Might he be
called perfectly virtuous?" The Master said, "Why speak only of virtue in
connection with him? Must he not have the qualities of a sage? Even Yao and Shun
were still solicitous about this.
"Now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks
also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to
"To be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves;-this may be
called the art of virtue."