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I. On Learning—Miscellaneous Sayings II. Good Government—Filial Piety—The Superior Man III. Abuse of Proprieties in Ceremonial and Music IV. Social Virtue—Superior and Inferior Man V. A Disciple and the Golden Rule—Miscellaneous VI. More Characteristics—Wisdom—Philanthropy VII. Characteristics of Confucius—An Incident VIII. Sayings of Tsang—Sentences of the Master IX. His Favorite Disciple's Opinion of Him X. Confucius in Private and Official Life XI. Comparative Worth of His Disciples XII. The Master's Answers—Philanthropy—Friendships XIII. Answers on the Art of Governing—Consistency XIV. Good and Bad Government—Miscellaneous Sayings XV. Practical Wisdom—Reciprocity the Rule of Life XVI. Against Intestine Strife—Good and Bad Friendships XVII. The Master Induced to Take Office—Nature and Habit XVIII. Good Men in Seclusion—Duke of Chow to His Son XIX. Teachings of Various Chief Disciples XX. Extracts from the Book of History



Book I. King Hwuy of Leang.— Part I

[Books II., III., and IV. are omitted]

Book V. Wan Chang.— Part I



Part I.—Lessons from the States.

BOOK I.—THE ODES OF CHOW AND THE SOUTH.— Celebrating the Virtue of King Wan's Bride Celebrating the Industry of King Wan's Queen In Praise of a Bride Celebrating T'ae-Sze's Freedom from Jealousy The Fruitfulness of the Locust Lamenting the Absence of a Cherished Friend Celebrating the Goodness of the Descendants of King Wan The Virtuous Manners of the Young Women Praise of a Rabbit-Catcher The Song of the Plantain-Gatherers The Affection of the Wives on the Joo

BOOK II.—THE ODES OF SHAOU AND THE SOUTH.— The Marriage of a Princess The Industry and Reverence of a Prince's Wife The Wife of Some Great Officer Bewails his Absence The Diligence of the Young Wife of an Officer The Love of the People for the Duke of Shaou The Easy Dignity of the Officers at Some Court Anxiety of a Young Lady to Get Married

BOOK III.—THE ODES OF P'EI.— An Officer Bewails the Neglect with which He is Treated A Wife Deplores the Absence of Her Husband The Plaint of a Rejected Wife Soldiers of Wei Bewail Separation from their Families An Officer Tells of His Mean Employment An Officer Sets Forth His Hard Lot The Complaint of a Neglected Wife In Praise of a Maiden Discontent Chwang Keang Bemoans Her Husband's Cruelty

[Books IV., V., and VI. are omitted]

BOOK VII.—THE ODES OF CH'ING.—- The People's Admiration for Duke Woo A Wife Consoled by Her Husband's Arrival In Praise of Some Lady A Man's Praise of His Wife An Entreaty A Woman Scorning Her Lover A Lady Mourns the Absence of Her Student Lover—-

BOOK VIII.—THE ODES OF TS'E.— A Wife Urging Her Husband to Action The Folly of Useless Effort The Prince of Loo

BOOK IX.—THE ODES OF WEI.— On the Misgovernment of the State The Mean Husband A Young Soldier on Service

BOOK X.—THE ODES OF T'ANG.— The King Goes to War Lament of a Bereaved Person The Drawbacks of Poverty A Wife Mourns for Her Husband

BOOK XI.—THE ODES OF TS'IN.— Celebrating the Opulence of the Lords of Ts'in A Complaint A Wife's Grief Because of Her Husband's Absence Lament for Three Brothers In Praise of a Ruler of Ts'in The Generous Nephew

BOOK XII.—THE ODES OF CH'IN.— The Contentment of a Poor Recluse The Disappointed Lover A Love-Song The Lament of a Lover

BOOK XIII.—THE ODES OF KWEI— The Wish of an Unhappy Man

BOOK XIV.—THE ODES OF TS'AOU.— Against Frivolous Pursuits

BOOK XV.—THE ODES OF PIN.— The Duke of Chow Tells of His Soldiers There is a Proper Way for Doing Everything

Part II.—Minor Odes of the Kingdom.

BOOK I.—DECADE OF LUH MING.— A Festal Ode A Festal Ode Complimenting an Officer The Value of Friendship The Response to a Festal Ode An Ode of Congratulation An Ode on the Return of the Troops

BOOK II.—THE DECADE OF PIH HWA.— An Ode Appropriate to a Festivity

BOOK III.—THE DECADE OF T'UNG KUNG.— Celebrating a Hunting Expedition The King's Anxiety for His Morning Levee Moral Lessons from Natural Facts

BOOK IV.—THE DECADE OF K'E-FOO.— On the Completion of a Royal Palace The Condition of King Seuen's Flocks

BOOK V.—THE DECADE OF SEAOU MIN.— A Eunuch Complains of His Fate An Officer Deplores the Misery of the Time On the Alienation of a Friend

BOOK VI.—THE DECADE OF PIH SHAN.— A Picture of Husbandry The Complaint of an Officer

BOOK VII.—DECADE OF SANG HOO.— The Rejoicings of a Bridegroom Against Listening to Slanderers

BOOK VIII.—THE DECADE OF TOO JIN SZE.— In Praise of By-gone Simplicity A Wife Bemoans Her Husband's Absence The Earl of Shaou's Work The Plaint of King Yew's Forsaken Wife Hospitality On the Misery of Soldiers

Part III.—Greater Odes of the Kingdom.

BOOK I.—DECADE OF KING WAN.— Celebrating King Wan

[Book II. is omitted]

BOOK III.—DECADE OF TANG.— King Seuen on the Occasion of a Great Drought

Part IV.—Odes of the Temple and Altar.

BOOK I.—SACRIFICIAL ODES OF CHOW.— Appropriate to a Sacrifice to King Wan On Sacrificing to the Kings Woo, Ching, and K'ang

THE TRAVELS OF FA-HIEN Translator's Introduction CHAPTER I. From Ch'ang-gan to the Sandy Desert II. On to Shen-shen and thence to Khoten III. Khoten—Processions of Images IV. Through the Ts'ung Mountains to K'eech-ch'a V. Great Quinquennial Assembly of Monks VI. North India—Image of Maitreya Bodhisattva VII. The Perilous Crossing of the Indus VIII. Woo-chang, or Udyana—Traces of Buddha IX. Soo ho-to—Legends of Buddha X. Gandhara—Legends of Buddha XI. Takshasila—Legends—The Four Great Topes XII. Buddha's Alms-bowl—Death of Hwuy-king XIII. Festival of Buddha's Skull-bone XIV. Crossing the Indus to the East XV. Sympathy of Monks with the Pilgrims XVI. Condition and Customs of Central India XVII. Legend of the Trayastrimsas Heaven XVIII. Buddha's Subjects of Discourse XIX. Legend of Buddha's Danta-kashtha XX. The Jetavana Vihara—Legends of Buddha XXI. The Three Predecessors of Sakyamuni XXII. Legends of Buddha's Birth XXIII. Legends of Rama and its Tope XXIV. Where Buddha Renounced the World XXV. The Kingdom of Vaisali XXVI. Remarkable Death of Ananda XXVII. King Asoka's Spirit-built Palace and Halls XXVIII. Rajagriha, New and Old—Legends Connected with It XXIX. Fa-Hien Passes a Night on Gridhra-kuta Hill XXX. Srataparna Cave, or Cave of the First Council XXXI. Sakyamuni's Attaining to the Buddhaship XXXII. Legend of King Asoka in a Former Birth XXXIII. Kasyapa Buddha's Skeleton on Mount Gurupada XXXIV. On the Way Returning to Patna XXXV. Dakshina, and the Pigeon Monastery XXXVI. Fa-Hien's Indian Studies XXXVII. Fa-Hien's Stay in Champa and Tamalipti XXXVIII. At Ceylon—Feats of Buddha—His Statue in Jade XXXIX. Cremation of an Arhat—Sermon of a Devotee XL. After Two Years Fa-Hien Takes Ship for China



Introduction Translator's Preface Dramatis Personae Prologue Act First Act Second Act Third Act Fourth




[Translated into English by William Jennings]


j, as in French. ng, commencing a word, like the same letters terminating one. ai or ei, as in aisle or eider. au, as in German, or like ow in cow. e, as in fete. i (not followed by a consonant), as ee in see. u (followed by a consonant), as in bull. iu, as ew in new. ui, as ooi in cooing. h at the end of a name makes the preceding vowel short. i in the middle of a word denotes an aspirate (h), as K'ung=Khung.


The strangest figure that meets us in the annals of Oriental thought is that of Confucius. To the popular mind he is the founder of a religion, and yet he has nothing in common with the great religious teachers of the East. We think of Siddartha, the founder of Buddhism, as the very impersonation of romantic asceticism, enthusiastic self-sacrifice, and faith in the things that are invisible. Zoroaster is the friend of God, talking face to face with the Almighty, and drinking wisdom and knowledge from the lips of Omniscience. Mohammed is represented as snatched up into heaven, where he receives the Divine communication which he is bidden to propagate with fire and sword throughout the world. These great teachers lived in an atmosphere of the supernatural. They spoke with the authority of inspired prophets. They brought the unseen world close to the minds of their disciples. They spoke positively of immortality, of reward or punishment beyond the grave. The present life they despised, the future was to them everything in its promised satisfaction. The teachings of Confucius were of a very different sort. Throughout his whole writings he has not even mentioned the name of God. He declined to discuss the question of immortality. When he was asked about spiritual beings, he remarked, "If we cannot even know men, how can we know spirits?"

Yet this was the man the impress of whose teaching has formed the national character of five hundred millions of people. A temple to Confucius stands to this day in every town and village of China. His precepts are committed to memory by every child from the tenderest age, and each year at the royal university at Pekin the Emperor holds a festival in honor of the illustrious teacher.

The influence of Confucius springs, first of all, from the narrowness and definiteness of his doctrine. He was no transcendentalist, and never meddled with supramundane things. His teaching was of the earth, earthy; it dealt entirely with the common relations of life, and the Golden Rule he must necessarily have stumbled upon, as the most obvious canon of his system. He strikes us as being the great Stoic of the East, for he believed that virtue was based on knowledge, knowledge of a man's own heart, and knowledge of human-kind. There is a pathetic resemblance between the accounts given of the death of Confucius and the death of Zeno. Both died almost without warning in dreary hopelessness, without the ministrations of either love or religion. This may be a mere coincidence, but the lives and teachings of both men must have led them to look with indifference upon such an end. For Confucius in his teaching treated only of man's life on earth, and seems to have had no ideas with regard to the human lot after death; if he had any ideas he preserved an inscrutable silence about them. As a moralist he prescribed the duties of the king and of the father, and advocated the cultivation by the individual man of that rest or apathy of mind which resembles so much the disposition aimed at by the Greek and Roman Stoic. Even as a moralist, he seems to have sacrificed the ideal to the practical, and his loose notions about marriage, his tolerance of concubinage, the slight emphasis which he lays on the virtue of veracity—of which indeed he does not seem himself to have been particularly studious in his historic writings—place him low down in the rank of moralists. Yet he taught what he felt the people could receive, and the flat mediocrity of his character and his teachings has been stamped forever upon a people who, while they are kindly, gentle, forbearing, and full of family piety, are palpably lacking not only in the exaltation of Mysticism, but in any religious feeling, generally so-called.

The second reason that made the teaching of Confucius so influential is based on the circumstances of the time. When this thoughtful, earnest youth awoke to the consciousness of life about him, he saw that the abuses under which the people groaned sprang from the feudal system, which cut up the country into separate territories, over which the power of the king had no control. China was in the position of France in the years preceding Philippe-Auguste, excepting that there were no places of sanctuary and no Truce of God. The great doctrine of Confucius was the unlimited despotism of the Emperor, and his moral precepts were intended to teach the Emperor how to use his power aright. But the Emperor was only typical of all those in authority—the feudal duke, the judge on the bench, and the father of the family. Each could discharge his duties aright only by submitting to the moral discipline which Confucius prescribed. A vital element in this system is its conservatism, its adherence to the imperial idea. As James I said, "No bishop, no king," so the imperialists of China have found in Confucianism the strongest basis for the throne, and have supported its dissemination accordingly.

The Analects of Confucius contain the gist of his teachings, and is worthy of study. We find in this work most of the precepts which his disciples have preserved and recorded. They form a code remarkable for simplicity, even crudity, and we are compelled to admire the force of character, the practical sagacity, the insight into the needs of the hour, which enabled Confucius, without claiming any Divine sanction, to impose this system upon his countrymen.

The name Confucius is only the Latinized form of two words which mean "Master K'ung." He was born 551 B.C., his father being governor of Shantung. He was married at nineteen, and seems to have occupied some minor position under the government. In his twenty-fourth year he entered upon the three years' mourning for the death of his mother. His seclusion gave him time for deep thought and the study of history, and he resolved upon the regeneration of his unhappy country. By the time he was thirty he became known as a great teacher, and disciples flocked to him. But he was yet occupied in public duties, and rose through successive stages to the office of Chief Judge in his own country of Lu. His tenure of office is said to have put an end to crime, and he became the "idol of the people" in his district. The jealousy of the feudal lords was roused by his fame as a moral teacher and a blameless judge. Confucius was driven from his home, and wandered about, with a few disciples, until his sixty-ninth year, when he returned to Lu, after accomplishing a work which has borne fruit, such as it is, to the present day. He spent the remaining five years of his life in editing the odes and historic monuments in which the glories of the ancient Chinese dynasty are set forth. He died in his seventy-third year, 478 B.C. There can be no doubt that the success of Confucius has been singularly great, owing especially to the narrow scope of his scheme, which has become crystallized in the habits, usages, and customs of the people. Especially has it been instrumental in consolidating the empire, and in strengthening the power of the monarch, who, as he every year burns incense in the red-walled temple at Pekin, utters sincerely the invocation: "Great art thou, O perfect Sage! Thy virtue is full, thy doctrine complete. Among mortal men there has not been thine equal. All kings honor thee. Thy statutes and laws have come gloriously down. Thou art the pattern in this imperial school. Reverently have the sacrificial vessels been set out. Full of awe, we sound our drums and bells."

E. W.



On Learning—Miscellaneous Sayings:—

"To learn," said the Master, "and then to practise opportunely what one has learnt—does not this bring with it a sense of satisfaction?

"To have associates in study coming to one from distant parts—does not this also mean pleasure in store?

"And are not those who, while not comprehending all that is said, still remain not unpleased to hear, men of the superior order?"

A saying of the Scholar Yu:—

"It is rarely the case that those who act the part of true men in regard to their duty to parents and elder brothers are at the same time willing to turn currishly upon their superiors: it has never yet been the case that such as desire not to commit that offence have been men willing to promote anarchy or disorder.

"Men of superior mind busy themselves first in getting at the root of things; and when they have succeeded in this the right course is open to them. Well, are not filial piety and friendly subordination among brothers a root of that right feeling which is owing generally from man to man?"

The Master observed, "Rarely do we meet with the right feeling due from one man to another where there is fine speech and studied mien."

The Scholar Tsang once said of himself: "On three points I examine myself daily, viz., whether, in looking after other people's interests, I have not been acting whole-heartedly; whether, in my intercourse with friends, I have not been true; and whether, after teaching, I have not myself been practising what I have taught."

The Master once observed that to rule well one of the larger States meant strict attention to its affairs and conscientiousness on the part of the ruler; careful husbanding of its resources, with at the same time a tender care for the interests of all classes; and the employing of the masses in the public service at suitable seasons.

"Let young people," said he, "show filial piety at home, respectfulness towards their elders when away from home; let them be circumspect, be truthful; their love going out freely towards all, cultivating good-will to men. And if, in such a walk, there be time or energy left for other things, let them employ it in the acquisition of literary or artistic accomplishments."

The disciple Tsz-hia said, "The appreciation of worth in men of worth, thus diverting the mind from lascivious desires—ministering to parents while one is the most capable of so doing—serving one's ruler when one is able to devote himself entirely to that object—being sincere in one's language in intercourse with friends: this I certainly must call evidence of learning, though others may say there has been 'no learning.'"

Sayings of the Master:—

"If the great man be not grave, he will not be revered, neither can his learning be solid.

"Give prominent place to loyalty and sincerity.

"Have no associates in study who are not advanced somewhat like yourself.

"When you have erred, be not afraid to correct yourself."

A saying of the Scholar Tsang:—

"The virtue of the people is renewed and enriched when attention is seen to be paid to the departed, and the remembrance of distant ancestors kept and cherished."

Tsz-k'in put this query to his fellow disciple Tsz-kung: said he, "When our Master comes to this or that State, he learns without fail how it is being governed. Does he investigate matters? or are the facts given him?"

Tsz-kung answered, "Our Master is a man of pleasant manners, and of probity, courteous, moderate, and unassuming: it is by his being such that he arrives at the facts. Is not his way of arriving at things different from that of others?"

A saying of the Master:—

"He who, after three years' observation of the will of his father when alive, or of his past conduct if dead, does not deviate from that father's ways, is entitled to be called 'a dutiful son.'"

Sayings of the Scholar Yu:—

"For the practice of the Rules of Propriety,[1] one excellent way is to be natural. This naturalness became a great grace in the practice of kings of former times; let everyone, small or great, follow their example.

"It is not, however, always practicable; and it is not so in the case of a person who does things naturally, knowing that he should act so, and yet who neglects to regulate his acts according to the Rules.

"When truth and right are hand in hand, a statement will bear repetition. When respectfulness and propriety go hand in hand, disgrace and shame are kept afar-off. Remove all occasion for alienating those to whom you are bound by close ties, and you have them still to resort to."

A saying of the Master:—

"The man of greater mind who, when he is eating, craves not to eat to the full; who has a home, but craves not for comforts in it; who is active and earnest in his work and careful in his words; who makes towards men of high principle, and so maintains his own rectitude—that man may be styled a devoted student."

Tsz-kung asked, "What say you, sir, of the poor who do not cringe and fawn; and what of the rich who are without pride and haughtiness?" "They are passable," the Master replied; "yet they are scarcely in the same category as the poor who are happy, and the rich who love propriety."

"In the 'Book of the Odes,'" Tsz-kung went on to say, "we read of one

Polished, as by the knife and file, The graving-tool, the smoothing-stone.

Does that coincide with your remark?"

"Ah! such as you," replied the Master, "may well commence a discussion on the Odes. If one tell you how a thing goes, you know what ought to come."

"It does not greatly concern me," said the Master, "that men do not know me; my great concern is, my not knowing them."

[Footnote 1: An important part of a Chinaman's education still. The text-book, "The Li Ki," contains rules for behavior and propriety for the whole life, from the cradle to the grave.]


Good Government—Filial Piety—The Superior Man

Sayings of the Master:—

"Let a ruler base his government upon virtuous principles, and he will be like the pole-star, which remains steadfast in its place, while all the host of stars turn towards it.

"The 'Book of Odes' contains three hundred pieces, but one expression in it may be taken as covering the purport of all, viz., Unswerving mindfulness.

"To govern simply by statute, and to reduce all to order by means of pains and penalties, is to render the people evasive, and devoid of any sense of shame.

"To govern upon principles of virtue, and to reduce them to order by the Rules of Propriety, would not only create in them the sense of shame, but would moreover reach them in all their errors.

"When I attained the age of fifteen, I became bent upon study. At thirty, I was a confirmed student. At forty, nought could move me from my course. At fifty, I comprehended the will and decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ears were attuned to them. At seventy, I could follow my heart's desires, without overstepping the lines of rectitude."

To a question of Mang-i, as to what filial piety consisted in, the master replied, "In not being perverse." Afterwards, when Fan Ch'i was driving him, the Master informed him of this question and answer, and Fan Ch'i asked, "What was your meaning?" The Master replied, "I meant that the Rules of Propriety should always be adhered to in regard to those who brought us into the world: in ministering to them while living, in burying them when dead, and afterwards in the offering to them of sacrificial gifts."

To a query of Mang Wu respecting filial piety, the Master replied, "Parents ought to bear but one trouble—that of their own sickness."

To a like question put by Tsz-yu, his reply was this: "The filial piety of the present day simply means the being able to support one's parents—which extends even to the case of dogs and horses, all of which may have something to give in the way of support. If there be no reverential feeling in the matter, what is there to distinguish between the cases?"

To a like question of Tsz-hia, he replied: "The manner is the difficulty. If, in the case of work to be done, the younger folks simply take upon themselves the toil of it; or if, in the matter of meat and drink, they simply set these before their elders—is this to be taken as filial piety?"

Once the Master remarked, "I have conversed with Hwui the whole day long, and he has controverted nothing that I have said, as if he were without wits. But when his back was turned, and I looked attentively at his conduct apart from me, I found it satisfactory in all its issues. No, indeed! Hwui is not without his wits."

Other observations of the Master:—

"If you observe what things people (usually) take in hand, watch their motives, and note particularly what it is that gives them satisfaction, shall they be able to conceal from you what they are? Conceal themselves, indeed!

"Be versed in ancient lore, and familiarize yourself with the modern; then may you become teachers.

"The great man is not a mere receptacle."

In reply to Tsz-kung respecting the great man:—

"What he first says, as a result of his experience, he afterwards follows up.

"The great man is catholic-minded, and not one-sided. The common man is the reverse.

"Learning, without thought, is a snare; thought, without learning, is a danger.

"Where the mind is set much upon heterodox principles—there truly and indeed is harm."

To the disciple Tsz-lu the Master said, "Shall I give you a lesson about knowledge? When you know a thing, maintain that you know it; and when you do not, acknowledge your ignorance. This is characteristic of knowledge."

Tsz-chang was studying with an eye to official income. The Master addressed him thus: "Of the many things you hear hold aloof from those that are doubtful, and speak guardedly with reference to the rest; your mistakes will then be few. Also, of the many courses you see adopted, hold aloof from those that are risky, and carefully follow the others; you will then seldom have occasion for regret. Thus, being seldom mistaken in your utterances, and having few occasions for regret in the line you take, you are on the high road to your preferment."

To a question put to him by Duke Ngai [2] as to what should be done in order to render the people submissive to authority, Confucius replied, "Promote the straightforward, and reject those whose courses are crooked, and the thing will be effected. Promote the crooked and reject the straightforward, and the effect will be the reverse."

When Ki K'ang [3] asked of him how the people could be induced to show respect, loyalty, and willingness to be led, the Master answered, "Let there be grave dignity in him who has the oversight of them, and they will show him respect; let him be seen to be good to his own parents, and kindly in disposition, and they will be loyal to him; let him promote those who have ability, and see to the instruction of those who have it not, and they will be willing to be led."

Some one, speaking to Confucius, inquired, "Why, sir, are you not an administrator of government?" The Master rejoined, "What says the 'Book of the Annals,' with reference to filial duty?—'Make it a point to be dutiful to your parents and amicable with your brethren; the same duties extend to an administrator.' If these, then, also make an administrator, how am I to take your words about being an administrator?"

On one occasion the Master remarked, "I know not what men are good for, on whose word no reliance can be placed. How should your carriages, large or little, get along without your whipple-trees or swing-trees?"

Tsz-chang asked if it were possible to forecast the state of the country ten generations hence. The Master replied in this manner: "The Yin dynasty adopted the rules and manners of the Hia line of kings, and it is possible to tell whether it retrograded or advanced. The Chow line has followed the Yin, adopting its ways, and whether there has been deterioration or improvement may also be determined. Some other line may take up in turn those of Chow; and supposing even this process to go on for a hundred generations, the result may be known."

Other sayings of the Master:—

"It is but flattery to make sacrificial offerings to departed spirits not belonging to one's own family.

"It is moral cowardice to leave undone what one perceives to be right to do."

[Footnote 2: Of Lu (Confucius's native State).]

[Footnote 3: Head of one of the "Three Families" of Lu.]


Abuse of Proprieties in Ceremonial and Music

Alluding to the head of the Ki family, [4] and the eight lines of posturers [5] before their ancestral hall, Confucius remarked, "If the Ki can allow himself to go to this extent, to what extent will he not allow himself to go?"

The Three Families [6] were in the habit, during the Removal of the sacred vessels after sacrifice, of using the hymn commencing,

"Harmoniously the Princes Draw near with reverent tread, Assisting in his worship Heaven's Son, the great and dread."

"How," exclaimed the Master, "can such words be appropriated in the ancestral hall of the Three Families?"

"Where a man," said he again, "has not the proper feelings due from one man to another, how will he stand as regards the Rules of Propriety? And in such a case, what shall we say of his sense of harmony?"

On a question being put to him by Lin Fang, a disciple, as to what was the radical idea upon which the Rules of Propriety were based, the Master exclaimed, "Ah! that is a large question. As to some rules, where there is likelihood of extravagance, they would rather demand economy; in those which relate to mourning, and where there is likelihood of being easily satisfied, what is wanted is real sorrow."

Speaking of the disorder of the times he remarked that while the barbarians on the North and East had their Chieftains, we here in this great country had nothing to compare with them in that respect:—we had lost these distinctions!

Alluding to the matter of the Chief of the Ki family worshipping on Tai-shan, [7] the Master said to Yen Yu, "Cannot you save him from this?" He replied, "It is beyond my power." "Alas, alas!" exclaimed the Master, "are we to say that the spirits of T'ai-shan have not as much discernment as Lin Fang?"

Of "the superior man," the Master observed, "In him there is no contentiousness. Say even that he does certainly contend with others, as in archery competitions; yet mark, in that case, how courteously he will bow and go up for the forfeit-cup, and come down again and give it to his competitor. In his very contest he is still the superior man."

Tsz-hia once inquired what inference might be drawn from the lines—

"Dimples playing in witching smile, Beautiful eyes, so dark, so bright! Oh, and her face may be thought the while Colored by art, red rose on white!"

"Coloring," replied the Master, "requires a pure and clear background." "Then," said the other, "rules of ceremony require to have a background!" "Ah!" exclaimed the Master, "you are the man to catch the drift of my thought. Such as you may well introduce a discussion on the Odes."

Said the Master, "As regards the ceremonial adopted and enforced by the Hia dynasty, I am able to describe it, although their own descendants in the State of Ki can adduce no adequate testimony in favor of its use there. So, too, I am able to describe the ceremonial of the Yin dynasty, although no more can the Sung people show sufficient reason for its continuance amongst themselves. And why cannot they do so? Because they have not documents enough, nor men learned enough. If only they had such, I could refer them to them in support of their usages.

"When I am present at the great quinquennial sacrifice to the manes of the royal ancestors," the Master said, "from the pouring-out of the oblation onwards, I have no heart to look on."

Some one asked what was the purport of this great sacrifice, and the Master replied, "I cannot tell. The position in the empire of him who could tell you is as evident as when you look at this"—pointing to the palm of his hand.

When he offered sacrifices to his ancestors, he used to act as if they were present before him. In offering to other spirits it was the same.

He would say, "If I do not myself take part in my offerings, it is all the same as if I did not offer them."

Wang-sun Kia asked him once, "What says the proverb, 'Better to court favor in the kitchen than in the drawing-room'?" The Master replied, "Nay, better say, He who has sinned against Heaven has none other to whom prayer may be addressed."

Of the Chow dynasty the Master remarked, "It looks back upon two other dynasties; and what a rich possession it has in its records of those times! I follow Chow!"

On his first entry into the grand temple, he inquired about every matter connected with its usages. Some one thereupon remarked, "Who says that the son of the man of Tsou [8] understands about ceremonial? On entering the grand temple he inquired about everything." This remark coming to the Master's ears, he said, "What I did is part of the ceremonial!"

"In archery," he said, "the great point to be observed is not simply the perforation of the leather; for men have not all the same strength. That was the fashion in the olden days."

Once, seeing that his disciple Tsz-kung was desirous that the ceremonial observance of offering a sheep at the new moon might be dispensed with, the Master said, "Ah! you grudge the loss of the sheep; I grudge the loss of the ceremony."

"To serve one's ruler nowadays," he remarked, "fully complying with the Rules of Propriety, is regarded by others as toadyism!"

When Duke Ting questioned him as to how a prince should deal with his ministers, and how they in turn should serve their prince, Confucius said in reply, "In dealing with his ministers a prince should observe the proprieties; in serving his prince a minister should observe the duty of loyalty."

Referring to the First of the Odes, he remarked that it was mirthful without being lewd, and sad also without being painful.

Duke Ngai asked the disciple Tsai Wo respecting the places for sacrificing to the Earth. The latter replied, "The Family of the Great Yu, of the Hia dynasty, chose a place of pine trees; the Yin founders chose cypresses; and the Chow founders chestnut trees, solemn and majestic, to inspire, 'tis said, the people with feelings of awe."

The Master on hearing of this exclaimed, "Never an allusion to things that have been enacted in the past! Never a remonstrance against what is now going on! He has gone away without a word of censure."

The Master once said of Kwan Chung, [9] "A small-minded man indeed!"

"Was he miserly?" some one asked.

"Miserly, indeed!" said he; "not that: he married three rimes, and he was not a man who restricted his official business to too few hands—how could he be miserly?"

"He knew the Rules of Propriety, I suppose?"

"Judge:—Seeing that the feudal lords planted a screen at their gates, he too would have one at his! Seeing that when any two of the feudal lords met in friendly conclave they had an earthenware stand on which to place their inverted cups after drinking, he must have the same! If he knew the Rules of Propriety, who is there that does not know them?"

In a discourse to the Chief Preceptor of Music at the court of Lu, the Master said, "Music is an intelligible thing. When you begin a performance, let all the various instruments produce as it were one sound (inharmonious); then, as you go on, bring out the harmony fully, distinctly, and with uninterrupted flow, unto the end."

The warden of the border-town of I requested an interview with Confucius, and said, "When great men have come here, I have never yet failed to obtain a sight of them." The followers introduced him; and, on leaving, he said to them, "Sirs, why grieve at his loss of office? The empire has for long been without good government; and Heaven is about to use your master as its edict-announcer."

Comparing the music of the emperor Shun with the music of King Wu, the Master said, "That of Shun is beautiful throughout, and also good throughout. That of Wu is all of it beautiful, but scarcely all of it good."

"High station," said the Master, "occupied by men who have no large and generous heart; ceremonial performed with no reverence; duties of mourning engaging the attention, where there is absence of sorrow;—how should I look on, where this is the state of things?"

[Footnote 4: The Chief of the Ki clan was virtually the Duke of Lu, under whom Confucius for a time held office.]

[Footnote 5: These posturers were mutes who took part in the ritual of the ancestral temple, waving plumes, flags, etc. Each line or rank of these contained eight men. Only in the sovereign's household should there have been eight lines of them; a ducal family like the Ki should have had but six lines; a great official had four, and one of lower grade two. These were the gradations marking the status of families, and Confucius's sense of propriety was offended at the Ki's usurping in this way the appearance of royalty.]

[Footnote 6: Three great families related to each other, in whose hands the government of the State of Lu then was, and of which the Ki was the chief.]

[Footnote 7: One of the five sacred mountains, worshipped upon only by the sovereign.]

[Footnote 8: Tsou was Confucius's birthplace; his father was governor of the town.]

[Footnote 9: A renowned statesman who flourished about two hundred years before Confucius's time. A philosophical work on law and government, said to have been written by him, is still extant. He was regarded as a sage by the people, but he lacked, in Confucius's eyes, the one thing needful—propriety.]


Social Virtue—Superior and Inferior Man

Sayings of the Master:—

"It is social good feeling that gives charm to a neighborhood. And where is the wisdom of those who choose an abode where it does not abide?

"Those who are without it cannot abide long, either in straitened or in happy circumstances. Those who possess it find contentment in it. Those who are wise go after it as men go after gain.

"Only they in whom it exists can have right likings and dislikings for others.

"Where the will is set upon it, there will be no room for malpractices.

"Riches and honor are what men desire; but if they arrive at them by improper ways, they should not continue to hold them. Poverty and low estate are what men dislike; but if they arrive at such a condition by improper ways, they should not refuse it.

"If the 'superior man' make nought of social good feeling, how shall he fully bear that name?

"Not even whilst he eats his meal will the 'superior man' forget what he owes to his fellow-men. Even in hurried leave-takings, even in moments of frantic confusion, he keeps true to this virtue.

"I have not yet seen a lover of philanthropy, nor a hater of misanthropy—such, that the former did not take occasion to magnify that virtue in himself, and that the latter, in his positive practice of philanthropy, did not, at times, allow in his presence something savoring of misanthropy.

"Say you, is there any one who is able for one whole day to apply the energy of his mind to this virtue? Well, I have not seen any one whose energy was not equal to it. It may be there are such, but I have never met with them.

"The faults of individuals are peculiar to their particular class and surroundings; and it is by observing their faults that one comes to understand the condition of their good feelings towards their fellows.

"One may hear the right way in the morning, and at evening die.

"The scholar who is intent upon learning the right way, and who is yet ashamed of poor attire and poor food, is not worthy of being discoursed with.

"The masterly man's attitude to the world is not exclusively this or that: whatsoever is right, to that he will be a party.

"The masterly man has an eye to virtue, the common man, to earthly things; the former has an eye to penalties for error—the latter, to favor.

"Where there is habitual going after gain, there is much ill-will.

"When there is ability in a ruler to govern a country by adhering to the Rules of Propriety, and by kindly condescension, what is wanted more? Where the ability to govern thus is wanting, what has such a ruler to do with the Rules of Propriety?

"One should not be greatly concerned at not being in office; but rather about the requirements in one's self for such a standing. Neither should one be so much concerned at being unknown; but rather with seeking to become worthy of being known."

Addressing his disciple Tsang Sin, the Master said, "Tsang Sin, the principles which I inculcate have one main idea upon which they all hang." "Aye, surely," he replied.

When the Master was gone out the other disciples asked what was the purport of this remark. Tsang's answer was, "The principles of our Master's teaching are these—whole-heartedness and kindly forbearance; these and nothing more."

Other observations of the Master:—

"Men of loftier mind manifest themselves in their equitable dealings; small-minded men in their going after gain.

"When you meet with men of worth, think how you may attain to their level; when you see others of an opposite character, look within, and examine yourself.

"A son, in ministering to his parents, may (on occasion) offer gentle remonstrances; when he sees that their will is not to heed such, he should nevertheless still continue to show them reverent respect, never obstinacy; and if he have to suffer, let him do so without murmuring.

"Whilst the parents are still living, he should not wander far; or, if a wanderer, he should at least have some fixed address.

"If for three years he do not veer from the principles of his father, he may be called a dutiful son.

"A son should not ignore the years of his parents. On the one hand, they may be a matter for rejoicing (that they have been so many), and on the other, for apprehension (that so few remain).

"People in olden times were loth to speak out, fearing the disgrace of not being themselves as good as their words.

"Those who keep within restraints are seldom losers.

"To be slow to speak, but prompt to act, is the desire of the 'superior man.'

"Virtue dwells not alone: she must have neighbors."

An observation of Tsz-yu:— "Officiousness, in the service of princes, leads to disgrace: among friends, to estrangement."


A Disciple and the Golden Rule—Miscellaneous

The Master pronounced Kung-ye Ch'ang, a disciple, to be a marriageable person; for although lying bound in criminal fetters he had committed no crime. And he gave him his own daughter to wife.

Of Nan Yung, a disciple, he observed, that in a State where the government was well conducted he would not be passed over in its appointments, and in one where the government was ill conducted he would evade punishment and disgrace. And he caused his elder brother's daughter to be given in marriage to him.

Of Tsz-tsien, a disciple, he remarked, "A superior man indeed is the like of him! But had there been none of superior quality in Lu, how should this man have attained to this excellence?"

Tsz-kung asked, "What of me, then?" "You," replied the Master—"You are a receptacle." "Of what sort?" said he. "One for high and sacred use," was the answer.

Some one having observed of Yen Yung that he was good-natured towards others, but that he lacked the gift of ready speech, the Master said, "What need of that gift? To stand up before men and pour forth a stream of glib words is generally to make yourself obnoxious to them. I know not about his good-naturedness; but at any rate what need of that gift?"

When the Master proposed that Tsi-tiau K'ai should enter the government service, the latter replied, "I can scarcely credit it." The Master was gratified.

"Good principles are making no progress," once exclaimed the Master. "If I were to take a raft, and drift about on the sea, would Tsz-lu, I wonder, be my follower there?" That disciple was delighted at hearing the suggestion; whereupon the Master continued, "He surpasses me in his love of deeds of daring. But he does not in the least grasp the pith of my remark."

In reply to a question put to him by Mang Wu respecting Tsz-lu—as to whether he might be called good-natured towards others, the Master said, "I cannot tell"; but, on the question being put again, he answered, "Well, in an important State [10] he might be intrusted with the management of the military levies; but I cannot answer for his good nature."

"What say you then of Yen Yu?"

"As for Yen," he replied, "in a city of a thousand families, or in a secondary fief, [11] he might be charged with the governorship; but I cannot answer for his good-naturedness."

"Take Tsz-hwa, then; what of him?"

"Tsz-hwa," said he, "with a cincture girt upon him, standing as attendant at Court, might be charged with the addressing of visitors and guests; but as to his good-naturedness I cannot answer."

Addressing Tsz-kung, the Master said, "Which of the two is ahead of the other—yourself or Hwui?" "How shall I dare," he replied, "even to look at Hwui? Only let him hear one particular, and from that he knows ten; whereas I, if I hear one, may from it know two."

"You are not a match for him, I grant you," said the Master. "You are not his match."

Tsai Yu, a disciple, used to sleep in the daytime. Said the Master, "One may hardly carve rotten wood, or use a trowel to the wall of a manure-yard! In his case, what is the use of reprimand?

"My attitude towards a man in my first dealings with him," he added, "was to listen to his professions and to trust to his conduct. My attitude now is to listen to his professions, and to watch his conduct. My experience with Tsai Yu has led to this change.

"I have never seen," said the Master, "a man of inflexible firmness." Some one thereupon mentioned Shin Ch'ang, a disciple. "Ch'ang," said he, "is wanton; where do you get at his inflexibleness?"

Tsz-kung made the remark: "That which I do not wish others to put upon me, I also wish not to put upon others." "Nay," said the Master, "you have not got so far as that."

The same disciple once remarked, "There may be access so as to hear the Master's literary discourses, but when he is treating of human nature and the way of Heaven, there may not be such success."

Tsz-lu, after once hearing him upon some subject, and feeling himself as yet incompetent to carry into practice what he had heard, used to be apprehensive only lest he should hear the subject revived.

Tsz-kung asked how it was that Kung Wan had come to be so styled Wan (the talented). The Master's answer was, "Because, though a man of an active nature, he was yet fond of study, and he was not ashamed to stoop to put questions to his inferiors."

Respecting Tsz-ch'an,[12] the Master said that he had four of the essential qualities of the 'superior man':—in his own private walk he was humble-minded; in serving his superiors he was deferential; in his looking after the material welfare of the people he was generously kind; and in his exaction of public service from the latter he was just.

Speaking of Yen Ping, he said, "He was one who was happy in his mode of attaching men to him. However long the intercourse, he was always deferential to them."

Referring to Tsang Wan, he asked, "What is to be said of this man's discernment?—this man with his tortoise-house, with the pillar-heads and posts bedizened with scenes of hill and mere!"

Tsz-chang put a question relative to the chief Minister of Tsu, Tsz-wan. He said, "Three times he became chief Minister, and on none of these occasions did he betray any sign of exultation. Three times his ministry came to an end, and he showed no sign of chagrin. He used without fail to inform the new Minister as to the old mode of administration. What say you of him?"

"That he was a loyal man," said the Master.

"But was he a man of fellow-feeling?" said the disciple.

"Of that I am not sure," he answered; "how am I to get at that?"

The disciple went on to say:—"After the assassination of the prince of Ts'i by the officer Ts'ui, the latter's fellow-official Ch'in Wan, who had half a score teams of horses, gave up all, and turned his back upon him. On coming to another State, he observed, 'There are here characters somewhat like that of our minister Ts'ui,' and he turned his back upon them. Proceeding to a certain other State, he had occasion to make the same remark, and left. What say you of him?"

"That he was a pure-minded man," answered the Master.

"But was he a man of fellow-feeling?" urged the disciple.

"Of that I am not sure," he replied; "how am I to get at that?"

Ki Wan was one who thought three times over a thing before he acted. The Master hearing this of him, observed, "Twice would have been enough."

Of Ning Wu, the Master said that when matters went well in the State he used to have his wits about him: but when they went wrong, he lost them. His intelligence might be equalled, but not his witlessness!

Once, when the Master lived in the State of Ch'in, he exclaimed, "Let me get home again! Let me get home! My school-children [13] are wild and impetuous! Though they are somewhat accomplished, and perfect in one sense in their attainments, yet they know not how to make nice discriminations."

Of Peh-I and Shuh Ts'i he said, "By the fact of their not remembering old grievances, they gradually did away with resentment."

Of Wei-shang Kau he said, "Who calls him straightforward? A person once begged some vinegar of him, and he begged it from a neighbor, and then presented him with it!"

"Fine speech," said he, "and studied mien, and superfluous show of deference—of such things Tso-k'iu Ming was ashamed, I too am ashamed of such things. Also of hiding resentment felt towards an opponent and treating him as a friend—of this kind of thing he was ashamed, and so too am I."

Attended once by the two disciples Yen Yuen and Tsz-lu, he said, "Come now, why not tell me, each of you, what in your hearts you are really after?"

"I should like," said Tsz-lu, "for myself and my friends and associates, carriages and horses, and to be clad in light furs! nor would I mind much if they should become the worse for wear."

"And I should like," said Yen Yuen, "to live without boasting of my abilities, and without display of meritorious deeds."

Tsz-lu then said, "I should like, sir, to hear what your heart is set upon."

The Master replied, "It is this:—in regard to old people, to give them quiet and comfort; in regard to friends and associates, to be faithful to them; in regard to the young, to treat them with fostering affection and kindness."

On one occasion the Master exclaimed, "Ah, 'tis hopeless! I have not yet seen the man who can see his errors, so as inwardly to accuse himself."

"In a small cluster of houses there may well be," said he, "some whose integrity and sincerity may compare with mine; but I yield to none in point of love of learning."

[Footnote 10: Lit., a State of 1,000 war chariots.]

[Footnote 11: Lit., a House of 100 war chariots.]

[Footnote 12: A great statesman of Confucius's time.]

[Footnote 13: A familiar way of speaking of his disciples in their hearing.]


More Characteristics—Wisdom—Philanthropy

Of Yen Yung, a disciple, the Master said, "Yung might indeed do for a prince!"

On being asked by this Yen Yung his opinion of a certain individual, the Master replied, "He is passable. Impetuous, though."

"But," argued the disciple, "if a man habituate himself to a reverent regard for duty—even while in his way of doing things he is impetuous—in the oversight of the people committed to his charge, is he not passable? If, on the other hand, he habituate himself to impetuosity of mind, and show it also in his way of doing things, is he not then over-impetuous?"

"You are right," said the Master.

When the Duke Ngai inquired which of the disciples were devoted to learning, Confucius answered him, "There was one Yen Hwui who loved it—a man whose angry feelings towards any particular person he did not suffer to visit upon another; a man who would never fall into the same error twice. Unfortunately his allotted time was short, and he died, and now his like is not to be found; I have never heard of one so devoted to learning."

While Tsz-hwa, a disciple, was away on a mission to Ts'i, the disciple Yen Yu, on behalf of his mother, applied for some grain. "Give her three pecks," said the Master. He applied for more. "Give her eight, then." Yen gave her fifty times that amount. The Master said, "When Tsz-hwa went on that journey to Ts'i, he had well-fed steeds yoked to his carriage, and was arrayed in light furs. I have learnt that the 'superior man' should help those whose needs are urgent, not help the rich to be more rich."

When Yuen Sz became prefect under him, he gave him nine hundred measures of grain, but the prefect declined to accept them.[14] "You must not," said the Master. "May they not be of use to the villages and hamlets around you?"

Speaking of Yen Yung again, the Master said, "If the offspring of a speckled ox be red in color, and horned, even though men may not wish to take it for sacrifice, would the spirits of the hills and streams reject it?"

Adverting to Hwui again, he said, "For three months there would not be in his breast one thought recalcitrant against his feeling of good-will towards his fellow-men. The others may attain to this for a day or for a month, but there they end."

When asked by Ki K'ang whether Tsz-lu was fit to serve the government, the Master replied, "Tsz-lu is a man of decision: what should prevent him from serving the government?"

Asked the same question respecting Tsz-kung and Yen Yu he answered similarly, pronouncing Tsz-kung to be a man of perspicacity, and Yen Yu to be one versed in the polite arts.

When the head of the Ki family sent for Min Tsz-k'ien to make him governor of the town of Pi, that disciple said, "Politely decline for me. If the offer is renewed, then indeed I shall feel myself obliged to go and live on the further bank of the Wan."

Peh-niu had fallen ill, and the Master was inquiring after him. Taking hold of his hand held out from the window, he said, "It is taking him off! Alas, his appointed time has come! Such a man, and to have such an illness!"

Of Hwui, again: "A right worthy man indeed was he! With his simple wooden dish of rice, and his one gourd-basin of drink, away in his poor back lane, in a condition too grievous for others to have endured, he never allowed his cheery spirits to droop. Aye, a right worthy soul was he!"

"It is not," Yen Yu once apologized, "that I do not take pleasure in your doctrines; it is that I am not strong enough." The Master rejoined, "It is when those who are not strong enough have made some moderate amount of progress that they fail and give up; but you are now drawing your own line for yourself."

Addressing Tsz-hia, the Master said, "Let your scholarship be that of gentlemen, and not like that of common men."

When Tsz-yu became governor of Wu-shing, the Master said to him, "Do you find good men about you?" The reply was, "There is Tan-t'ai Mieh-ming, who when walking eschews by-paths, and who, unless there be some public function, never approaches my private residence."

"Mang Chi-fan," said the Master, "is no sounder of his own praises. During a stampede he was in the rear, and as they were about to enter the city gate he whipped up his horses, and said, 'Twas not my daring made me lag behind. My horses would not go.'"

Obiter dicta of the Master:—

"Whoever has not the glib utterance of the priest T'o, as well as the handsomeness of Prince Chau of Sung, will find it hard to keep out of harm's way in the present age.

"Who can go out but by that door? Why walks no one by these guiding principles?

"Where plain naturalness is more in evidence than polish, we have—the man from the country. Where polish is more in evidence than naturalness, we have—the town scribe. It is when naturalness and polish are equally evident that we have the ideal man.

"The life of a man is—his rectitude. Life without it—such may you have the good fortune to avoid!

"They who know it are not as those who love it, nor they who love it as those who rejoice in it—that is, have the fruition of their love for it.

"To the average man, and those above the average, it is possible to discourse on higher subjects; to those from the average downwards, it is not possible."

Fan Ch'i put a query about wisdom. The Master replied, "To labor for the promoting of righteous conduct among the people of the land; to be serious in regard to spiritual beings, and to hold aloof from them;—this may be called wisdom."

To a further query, about philanthropy, he replied, "Those who possess that virtue find difficulty with it at first, success later.

"Men of practical knowledge," he said, "find their gratification among the rivers of the lowland, men of sympathetic social feeling find theirs among the hills. The former are active and bustling, the latter calm and quiet. The former take their day of pleasure, the latter look to length of days."

Alluding to the States of Ts'i and Lu, he observed, that Ts'i, by one change, might attain to the condition of Lu; and that Lu, by one change, might attain to good government.

An exclamation of the Master (satirizing the times, when old terms relating to government were still used while bereft of their old meaning):—"A quart, and not a quart! quart, indeed! quart, indeed!"

Tsai Wo, a disciple, put a query. Said he, "Suppose a philanthropic person were told, 'There's a fellow-creature down in the well!' Would he go down after him?"

"Why should he really do so?" answered the Master. "The good man or, a superior man might be induced to go, but not to go down. He may be misled, but not befooled."

"The superior man," said he, "with his wide study of books, and hedging himself round by the Rules of Propriety, is not surely, after all that, capable of overstepping his bounds."

Once when the Master had had an interview with Nan-tsz, which had scandalized his disciple Tsz-lu, he uttered the solemn adjuration, "If I have done aught amiss, may Heaven reject me! may Heaven reject me!"

"How far-reaching," said he, "is the moral excellence that flows from the Constant Mean! [15] It has for a long time been rare among the people."

Tsz-kung said, "Suppose the case of one who confers benefits far and wide upon the people, and who can, in so doing, make his bounty universally felt—how would you speak of him? Might he be called philanthropic?"

The Master exclaimed, "What a work for philanthropy! He would require indeed to be a sage! He would put into shade even Yau and Shun!—Well, a philanthropic person, desiring for himself a firm footing, is led on to give one to others; desiring for himself an enlightened perception of things, he is led on to help others to be similarly enlightened. If one could take an illustration coming closer home to us than yours, that might be made the starting-point for speaking about philanthropy."

[Footnote 14: At this time Confucius was Criminal Judge in his native State of Lu. Yuen Sz had been a disciple. The commentators add that this was the officer's proper salary, and that he did wrong to refuse it.]

[Footnote 15: The doctrine afterwards known by that name, and which gave its title to a Confucian treatise.]


Characteristics of Confucius—An Incident

Said the Master:—

"I, as a transmitter[16] and not an originator, and as one who believes in and loves the ancients, venture to compare myself with our old P'ang.

"What find you indeed in me?—a quiet brooder and memorizer; a student never satiated with learning; an unwearied monitor of others!

"The things which weigh heavily upon my mind are these—failure to improve in the virtues, failure in discussion of what is learnt, inability to walk according to knowledge received as to what is right and just, inability also to reform what has been amiss."

In his hours of recreation and refreshment the Master's manner was easy and unconstrained, affable and winning.

Once he exclaimed, "Alas! I must be getting very feeble; 'tis long since I have had a repetition of the dreams in which I used to see the Duke of Chow. [17]

"Concentrate the mind," said he, "upon the Good Way.

"Maintain firm hold upon Virtue.

"Rely upon Philanthropy.

"Find recreation in the Arts. [18]

"I have never withheld instruction from any, even from those who have come for it with the smallest offering.

"No subject do I broach, however, to those who have no eager desire to learn; no encouraging hint do I give to those who show no anxiety to speak out their ideas; nor have I anything more to say to those who, after I have made clear one corner of the subject, cannot from that give me the other three."

If the Master was taking a meal, and there were any in mourning beside him, he would not eat to the full.

On one day on which he had wept, on that day he would not sing.

Addressing his favorite disciple, he said, "To you only and myself it has been given to do this—to go when called to serve, and to go back into quiet retirement when released from office."

Tsz-lu, hearing the remark said, "But if, sir, you had the handling of the army of one of the greater States,[19] whom would you have associated with you in that case?"

The Master answered:—

"Not the one 'who'll rouse the tiger,' Not the one 'who'll wade the Ho;'

not the man who can die with no regret. He must be one who should watch over affairs with apprehensive caution, a man fond of strategy, and of perfect skill and effectiveness in it."

As to wealth, he remarked, "If wealth were an object that I could go in quest of, I should do so even if I had to take a whip and do grooms' work. But seeing that it is not, I go after those objects for which I have a liking."

Among matters over which he exercised great caution were times of fasting, war, and sickness.

When he was in the State of Ts'i, and had heard the ancient Shau music, he lost all perception of the taste of his meat. "I had no idea," said he, "that music could have been brought to this pitch."

In the course of conversation Yen Yu said, "Does the Master take the part of the Prince of Wei?" "Ah yes!" said Tsz-kung, "I will go and ask him that."

On going in to him, that disciple began, "What sort of men were Peh-I and Shuh Ts'i?" "Worthies of the olden time," the Master replied. "Had they any feelings of resentment?" was the next question. "Their aim and object," he answered, "was that of doing the duty which every man owes to his fellows, and they succeeded in doing it;—what room further for feelings of resentment?" The questioner on coming out said, "The Master does not take his part."

"With a meal of coarse rice," said the Master, "and with water to drink, and my bent arm for my pillow—even thus I can find happiness. Riches and honors without righteousness are to me as fleeting clouds."

"Give me several years more to live," said he, "and after fifty years' study of the 'Book of Changes' I might come to be free from serious error."

The Master's regular subjects of discourse were the "Books of the Odes" and "History," and the up-keeping of the Rules of Propriety. On all of these he regularly discoursed.

The Duke of Shih questioned Tsz-lu about Confucius, and the latter did not answer.

Hearing of this, the Master said, "Why did you not say, He is a man with a mind so intent on his pursuits that he forgets his food, and finds such pleasure in them that he forgets his troubles, and does not know that old age is coming upon him?"

"As I came not into life with any knowledge of it," he said, "and as my likings are for what is old, I busy myself in seeking knowledge there."

Strange occurrences, exploits of strength, deeds of lawlessness, references to spiritual beings—such-like matters the Master avoided in conversation.

"Let there," he said, "be three men walking together: from that number I should be sure to find my instructors; for what is good in them I should choose out and follow, and what is not good I should modify."

On one occasion he exclaimed, "Heaven begat Virtue in me; what can man do unto me?"

To his disciples he once said, "Do you look upon me, my sons, as keeping anything secret from you? I hide nothing from you. I do nothing that is not manifest to your eyes, my disciples. That is so with me."

Four things there were which he kept in view in his teaching—scholarliness, conduct of life, honesty, faithfulness.

"It is not given to me," he said, "to meet with a sage; let me but behold a man of superior mind, and that will suffice. Neither is it given to me to meet with a good man; let me but see a man of constancy, and it will suffice. It is difficult for persons to have constancy, when they pretend to have that which they are destitute of, to be full when they are empty, to do things on a grand scale when their means are contracted!"

When the Master fished with hook and line, he did not also use a net. When out with his bow, he would never shoot at game in cover.

"Some there may be," said he, "who do things in ignorance of what they do. I am not of these. There is an alternative way of knowing things, viz.—to sift out the good from the many things one hears, and follow it; and to keep in memory the many things one sees."

Pupils from Hu-hiang were difficult to speak with. One youth came to interview the Master, and the disciples were in doubt whether he ought to have been seen. "Why so much ado," said the Master, "at my merely permitting his approach, and not rather at my allowing him to draw back? If a man have cleansed himself in order to come and see me, I receive him as such; but I do not undertake for what he will do when he goes away."

"Is the philanthropic spirit far to seek, indeed?" the Master exclaimed; "I wish for it, and it is with me!"

The Minister of Crime in the State of Ch'in asked Confucius whether Duke Ch'an, of Lu was acquainted with the Proprieties; and he answered, "Yes, he knows them."

When Confucius had withdrawn, the minister bowed to Wu-ma K'i, a disciple, and motioned to him to come forward. He said, "I have heard that superior men show no partiality; are they, too, then, partial? That prince took for his wife a lady of the Wu family, having the same surname as himself, and had her named 'Lady Tsz of Wu, the elder,' If he knows the Proprieties, then who does not?"

The disciple reported this to the Master, who thereupon remarked, "Well for me! If I err in any way, others are sure to know of it."

When the Master was in company with any one who sang, and who sang well, he must needs have the song over again, and after that would join in it.

"Although in letters," he said, "I may have none to compare with me, yet in my personification of the 'superior man' I have not as yet been successful."

"'A Sage and a Philanthropist?' How should I have the ambition?" said he. "All that I can well be called is this—An insatiable student, an unwearied teacher;—this, and no more."—"Exactly what we, your disciples, cannot by any learning manage to be," said Kung-si Hwa.

Once when the Master was seriously ill, Tsz-lu requested to be allowed to say prayers for him. "Are such available?" asked the Master. "Yes," said he; "and the Manual of Prayers says, 'Pray to the spirits above and to those here below,'"

"My praying has been going on a long while," said the Master.

"Lavish living," he said, "renders men disorderly; miserliness makes them hard. Better, however, the hard than the disorderly."

Again, "The man of superior mind is placidly composed; the small-minded man is in a constant state of perturbation."

The Master was gentle, yet could be severe; had an over-awing presence, yet was not violent; was deferential, yet easy.

[Footnote 16: In reference to his editing the six Classics of his time.]

[Footnote 17: This was one of his "beloved ancients," famous for what he did in helping to found the dynasty of Chow, a man of great political wisdom, a scholar also, and poet. It was the "dream" of Confucius's life to restore the country to the condition in which the Duke of Chow left it.]

[Footnote 18: These were six in number, viz.: Ceremonial, Music, Archery, Horsemanship, Language, and Calculation.]

[Footnote 19: Lit., three forces. Each force consisted of 12,500 men, and three of such forces were the equipment of a greater State.]


Sayings of Tsang—Sentences of the Master

Speaking of T'ai-pih the Master said that he might be pronounced a man of the highest moral excellence; for he allowed the empire to pass by him onwards to a third heir; while the people, in their ignorance of his motives, were unable to admire him for so doing.

"Without the Proprieties," said the Master, "we have these results: for deferential demeanor, a worried one; for calm attentiveness, awkward bashfulness; for manly conduct, disorderliness; for straightforwardness, perversity.

"When men of rank show genuine care for those nearest to them in blood, the people rise to the duty of neighborliness and sociability. And when old friendships among them are not allowed to fall off, there will be a cessation of underhand practices among the people."

The Scholar Tsang was once unwell, and calling his pupils to him he said to them, "Disclose to view my feet and my hands. What says the Ode?—

'Act as from a sense of danger, With precaution and with care, As a yawning gulf o'erlooking, As on ice that scarce will bear,'

At all times, my children, I know how to keep myself free from bodily harm."

Again, during an illness of his, Mang King, an official, went to ask after him. The Scholar had some conversation with him, in the course of which he said—

"'Doleful the cries of a dying bird, Good the last words of a dying man,'

There are three points which a man of rank in the management of his duties should set store upon:—A lively manner and deportment, banishing both severity and laxity; a frank and open expression of countenance, allied closely with sincerity; and a tone in his utterances utterly free from any approach to vulgarity and impropriety. As to matters of bowls and dishes, leave such things to those who are charged with the care of them."

Another saying of the Scholar Tsang: "I once had a friend who, though he possessed ability, would go questioning men of none, and, though surrounded by numbers, would go with his questions to isolated individuals; who also, whatever he might have, appeared as if he were without it, and, with all his substantial acquirements, made as though his mind were a mere blank; and when insulted would not retaliate;—this was ever his way."

Again he said: "The man that is capable of being intrusted with the charge of a minor on the throne, and given authority over a large territory, and who, during the important term of his superintendence cannot be forced out of his position, is not such a 'superior man'? That he is, indeed."

Again:—"The learned official must not be without breadth and power of endurance: the burden is heavy, and the way is long.

"Suppose that he take his duty to his fellow-men as his peculiar burden, is that not indeed a heavy one? And since only with death it is done with, is not the way long?"

Sentences of the Master:—

"From the 'Book of Odes' we receive impulses; from the 'Book of the Rules,' stability; from the 'Book on Music,' refinement. [20]

"The people may be put into the way they should go, though they may not be put into the way of understanding it.

"The man who likes bravery, and yet groans under poverty, has mischief in him. So, too, has the misanthrope, groaning at any severity shown towards him.

"Even if a person were adorned with the gifts of the Duke of Chow, yet if he were proud and avaricious, all the rest of his qualities would not indeed be worth looking at.

"Not easily found is the man who, after three years' study, has failed to come upon some fruit of his toil.

"The really faithful lover of learning holds fast to the Good Way till death.

"He will not go into a State in which a downfall is imminent, nor take up his abode in one where disorder reigns. When the empire is well ordered he will show himself; when not, he will hide himself away. Under a good government it will be a disgrace to him if he remain in poverty and low estate; under a bad one, it would be equally disgraceful to him to hold riches and honors.

"If not occupying the office, devise not the policy.

"When the professor Chi began his duties, how grand the finale of the First of the Odes used to be! How it rang in one's ears!

"I cannot understand persons who are enthusiastic and yet not straightforward; nor those who are ignorant and yet not attentive; nor again those folks who are simple-minded and yet untrue.

"Learn, as if never overtaking your object, and yet as if apprehensive of losing it.

"How sublime was the handling of the empire by Shun and Yu!—it was as nothing to them!

"How great was Yau as a prince! Was he not sublime! Say that Heaven only is great, then was Yau alone after its pattern! How profound was he! The people could not find a name for him. How sublime in his achievements! How brilliant in his scholarly productions!"

Shun had for his ministers five men, by whom he ordered the empire.

King Wu (in his day) stated that he had ten men as assistants for the promotion of order.

With reference to these facts Confucius observed, "Ability is hard to find. Is it not so indeed? During the three years' interregnum between Yau and Shun there was more of it than in the interval before this present dynasty appeared. There were, at this latter period, one woman, and nine men only.

"When two-thirds of the empire were held by King Wan, he served with that portion the House of Yin. We speak of the virtue of the House of Chow; we may say, indeed, that it reached the pinnacle of excellence."

"As to Yu," added the Master, "I can find no flaw in him. Living on meagre food and drink; yet providing to the utmost in his filial offerings to the spirits of the dead! Dressing in coarse garments; yet most elegant when vested in his sacrificial apron and coronet! Dwelling in a poor palace; yet exhausting his energies over those boundary-ditches and watercourses! I can find no flaw in Yu."

[Footnote 20: Comparison of three of the Classics: the "Shi-King," the "Li Ki," and the "Yoh." The last is lost.]


His Favorite Disciple's Opinion of Him

Topics on which the Master rarely spoke were—Advantage, and Destiny, and Duty of man to man.

A man of the village of Tah-hiang exclaimed of him, "A great man is Confucius!—a man of extensive learning, and yet in nothing has he quite made himself a name!"

The Master heard of this, and mentioning it to his disciples he said, "What then shall I take in hand? Shall I become a carriage driver, or an archer? Let me be a driver!"

"The sacrificial cap," he once said, "should, according to the Rules, be of linen; but in these days it is of pure silk. However, as it is economical, I do as all do.

"The Rule says, 'Make your bow when at the lower end of the hall'; but nowadays the bowing is done at the upper part. This is great freedom; and I, though I go in opposition to the crowd, bow when at the lower end."

The Master barred four words:—he would have no "shall's," no "must's," no "certainty's," no "I's."

Once, in the town of K'wang fearing that his life was going to be taken, the Master exclaimed, "King Wan is dead and gone; but is not 'wan' [21] with you here? If Heaven be about to allow this 'wan' to perish, then they who survive its decease will get no benefit from it. But so long as Heaven does not allow it to perish, what can the men of K'wang do to me?"

A high State official, after questioning Tsz-kung, said, "Your Master is a sage, then? How many and what varied abilities must be his!"

The disciple replied, "Certainly Heaven is allowing him full opportunities of becoming a sage, in addition to the fact that his abilities are many and varied."

When the Master heard of this he remarked, "Does that high official know me? In my early years my position in life was low, and hence my ability in many ways, though exercised in trifling matters. In the gentleman is there indeed such variety of ability? No."

From this, the disciple Lau used to say, "'Twas a saying of the Master: 'At a time when I was not called upon to use them, I acquired my proficiency in the polite arts.'"

"Am I, indeed," said the Master, "possessed of knowledge? I know nothing. Let a vulgar fellow come to me with a question—a man with an emptyish head—I may thrash out with him the matter from end to end, and exhaust myself in doing it!"

"Ah!" exclaimed he once, "the phoenix does not come! and no symbols issue from the river! May I not as well give up?"

Whenever the Master met with a person in mourning, or with one in full-dress cap and kirtle, or with a blind person, although they might be young persons, he would make a point of rising on their appearance, or, if crossing their path, would do so with quickened step!

Once Yen Yuen exclaimed with a sigh (with reference to the Master's doctrines), "If I look up to them, they are ever the higher; if I try to penetrate them, they are ever the harder; if I gaze at them as if before my eyes, lo, they are behind me!—Gradually and gently the Master with skill lures men on. By literary lore he gave me breadth; by the Rules of Propriety he narrowed me down. When I desire a respite, I find it impossible; and after I have exhausted my powers, there seems to be something standing straight up in front of me, and though I have the mind to make towards it I make no advance at all."

Once when the Master was seriously ill, Tsz-lu induced the other disciples to feign they were high officials acting in his service. During a respite from his malady the Master exclaimed, "Ah! how long has Tsz-lu's conduct been false? Whom should I delude, if I were to pretend to have officials under me, having none? Should I deceive Heaven? Besides, were I to die, I would rather die in the hands of yourselves, my disciples, than in the hands of officials. And though I should fail to have a grand funeral over me, I should hardly be left on my death on the public highway, should I?"

Tsz-kung once said to him, "Here is a fine gem. Would you guard it carefully in a casket and store it away, or seek a good price for it and sell it?" "Sell it, indeed," said the Master—"that would I; but I should wait for the bidder."

The Master protested he would "go and live among the nine wild tribes."

"A rude life," said some one;—"how could you put up with it?"

"What rudeness would there be," he replied, "if a 'superior man' was living in their midst?"

Once he remarked, "After I came back from Wei to Lu the music was put right, and each of the Festal Odes and Hymns was given its appropriate place and use."

"Ah! which one of these following," he asked on one occasion, "are to be found exemplified in me—proper service rendered to superiors when abroad; duty to father and elder brother when at home; duty that shrinks from no exertion when dear ones die; and keeping free from the confusing effects of wine?"

Standing once on the bank of a mountain stream, he said (musingly), "Like this are those that pass away—no cessation, day or night!"

Other sayings:—

"Take an illustration from the making of a hill. A simple basketful is wanting to complete it, and the work stops. So I stop short.

"Take an illustration from the levelling of the ground. Suppose again just one basketful is left, when the work has so progressed. There I desist!

"Ah! it was Hwui, was it not? who, when I had given him his lesson, was the unflagging one!

"Alas for Hwui! I saw him ever making progress. I never saw him stopping short.

"Blade, but no bloom—or else bloom, but no produce; aye, that is the way with some!

"Reverent regard is due to youth. How know we what difference there may be in them in the future from what they are now? Yet when they have reached the age of forty or fifty, and are still unknown in the world, then indeed they are no more worthy of such regard.

"Can any do otherwise than assent to words said to them by way of correction? Only let them reform by such advice, and it will then be reckoned valuable. Can any be other than pleased with words of gentle suasion? Only let them comply with them fully, and such also will be accounted valuable. With those who are pleased without so complying, and those who assent but do not reform, I can do nothing at all.

"Give prominent place to loyalty and sincerity.

"Have no associates in study who are not advanced somewhat like yourself.

"When you have erred, be not afraid to correct yourself.

"It may be possible to seize and carry off the chief commander of a large army, but not possible so to rob one poor fellow of his will.

"One who stands—clad in hempen robe, the worse for wear—among others clad in furs of fox and badger, and yet unabashed—'tis Tsz-lu, that, is it not?"

Tsz-lu used always to be humming over the lines—

"From envy and enmity free, What deed doth he other than good?"

"How should such a rule of life," asked the Master, "be sufficient to make any one good?"

"When the year grows chilly, we know the pine and cypress are the last to fade.

"The wise escape doubt; the good-hearted, trouble; the bold, apprehension.

"Some may study side by side, and yet be asunder when they come to the logic of things. Some may go on together in this latter course, but be wide apart in the standards they reach in it. Some, again, may together reach the same standard, and yet be diverse in weight of character."

"The blossom is out on the cherry tree, With a flutter on every spray. Dost think that my thoughts go not out to thee? Ah, why art thou far away!"

Commenting on these lines the Master said, "There can hardly have been much 'thought going out,' What does distance signify?"

[Footnote 21: "Wan" was the honorary appellation of the great sage and ruler, whose praise is in the "Shi-King" as one of the founders of the Chow dynasty, and the term represented civic talent and virtues, as distinct from Wu, the martial talent—the latter being the honorary title of his son and successor. "Wan" also often stands for literature and polite accomplishments. Here Confucius simply means, "If you kill me, you kill a sage."]


Confucius in Private and Official Life

In his own village, Confucius presented a somewhat plain and simple appearance, and looked unlike a man who possessed ability of speech.

But in the ancestral temple, and at Court, he spoke with the fluency and accuracy of a debater, but ever guardedly.

At Court, conversing with the lower order of great officials, he spoke somewhat firmly and directly; with those of the higher order his tone was somewhat more affable.

When the prince was present he was constrainedly reverent in his movements, and showed a proper degree of grave dignity in demeanor.

Whenever the prince summoned him to act as usher to the Court, his look would change somewhat, and he would make as though he were turning round to do obeisance.

He would salute those among whom he took up his position, using the right hand or the left, and holding the skirts of his robe in proper position before and behind. He would make his approaches with quick step, and with elbows evenly bent outwards.

When the visitor withdrew, he would not fail to report the execution of his commands, with the words, "The visitor no longer looks back."

When he entered the palace gate, it was with the body somewhat bent forward, almost as though he could not be admitted. When he stood still, this would never happen in the middle of the gateway; nor when moving about would he ever tread on the threshold. When passing the throne, his look would change somewhat, he would turn aside and make a sort of obeisance, and the words he spoke seemed as though he were deficient in utterance.

On going up the steps to the audience chamber, he would gather up with both hands the ends of his robe, and walk with his body bent somewhat forward, holding back his breath like one in whom respiration has ceased. On coming out, after descending one step his countenance would relax and assume an appearance of satisfaction. Arrived at the bottom, he would go forward with quick step, his elbows evenly bent outwards, back to his position, constrainedly reverent in every movement.

When holding the sceptre in his hand, his body would be somewhat bent forward, as if he were not equal to carrying it; wielding it now higher, as in a salutation, now lower, as in the presentation of a gift; his look would also be changed and appear awestruck; and his gait would seem retarded, as if he were obeying some restraining hand behind.

When he presented the gifts of ceremony, he would assume a placid expression of countenance. At the private interview he would be cordial and affable.

The good man would use no purple or violet colors for the facings of his dress. [22] Nor would he have red or orange color for his undress. [23] For the hot season he wore a singlet, of either coarse or fine texture, but would also feel bound to have an outer garment covering it. For his black robe he had lamb's wool; for his white one, fawn's fur; and for his yellow one, fox fur. His furred undress robe was longer, but the right sleeve was shortened. He would needs have his sleeping-dress one and a half times his own length. For ordinary home wear he used thick substantial fox or badger furs. When he left off mourning, he would wear all his girdle trinkets. His kirtle in front, when it was not needed for full cover, he must needs have cut down. He would never wear his (black) lamb's-wool, or a dark-colored cap, when he went on visits of condolence to mourners. [24] On the first day of the new moon, he must have on his Court dress and to Court. When observing his fasts, he made a point of having bright, shiny garments, made of linen. He must also at such times vary his food, and move his seat to another part of his dwelling-room.

As to his food, he never tired of rice so long as it was clean and pure, nor of hashed meats when finely minced. Rice spoiled by damp, and sour, he would not touch, nor tainted fish, nor bad meat, nor aught of a bad color or smell, nor aught overdone in cooking, nor aught out of season. Neither would he eat anything that was not properly cut, or that lacked its proper seasonings. Although there might be an abundance of meat before him, he would not allow a preponderance of it to rob the rice of its beneficial effect in nutrition. Only in the matter of wine did he set himself no limit, yet he never drank so much as to confuse himself. Tradesmen's wines, and dried meats from the market, he would not touch. Ginger he would never have removed from the table during a meal. He was not a great eater. Meat from the sacrifices at the prince's temple he would never put aside till the following day. The meat of his own offerings he would never give out after three days' keeping, for after that time none were to eat it.

At his meals he would not enter into discussions; and when reposing (afterwards) he would not utter a word.

Even should his meal consist only of coarse rice and vegetable broth or melons, he would make an offering, and never fail to do so religiously.

He would never sit on a mat that was not straight.

After a feast among his villagers, he would wait before going away until the old men had left.

When the village people were exorcising the pests, he would put on his Court robes and stand on the steps of his hall to receive them.

When he was sending a message of inquiry to a person in another State, he would bow twice on seeing the messenger off.

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