Holy Confucian Canon
Holy Confucian Canon
English translation by James Legge
The Master "Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance
"Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant
"Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure
though men may take no note of him?"
The philosopher Yu said, "They are few who, being filial
and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There
have been none, who, not liking to offend against their superiors,
have been fond of stirring up confusion.
"The superior man bends his attention to what is radical.
That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up.
Filial piety and fraternal submission,-are they not the root of
all benevolent actions?"
The Master said, "Fine words and an insinuating appearance
are seldom associated with true virtue."
The philosopher Tsang said, "I daily examine myself on three
points:-whether, in transacting business for others, I may have
been not faithful;-whether, in intercourse with friends, I may
have been not sincere;-whether I may have not mastered and practiced
the instructions of my teacher."
The Master said, "To rule a country of a thousand chariots,
there must be reverent attention to business, and sincerity; economy
in expenditure, and love for men; and the employment of the people
at the proper seasons."
The Master said, "A youth, when at home, should be filial,
and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and
truthful. He should overflow in love to all, and cultivate the
friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after
the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite
Tsze-hsia said, "If a man withdraws his mind from the love
of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the virtuous;
if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength; if,
in serving his prince, he can devote his life; if, in his intercourse
with his friends, his words are sincere:-although men say that
he has not learned, I will certainly say that he has.
The Master said, "If the scholar be not grave, he will not
call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid.
"Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
"Have no friends not equal to yourself.
"When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them."
The philosopher Tsang said, "Let there be a careful attention
to perform the funeral rites to parents, and let them be followed
when long gone with the ceremonies of sacrifice;-then the virtue
of the people will resume its proper excellence."
Tsze-ch'in asked Tsze-kung saying, "When our master comes
to any country, he does not fail to learn all about its government.
Does he ask his information? or is it given to him?"
Tsze-kung said, "Our master is benign, upright, courteous,
temperate, and complaisant and thus he gets his information. The
master's mode of asking information,-is it not different from that
of other men?"
The Master said, "While a man's father is alive, look at
the bent of his will; when his father is dead, look at his conduct.
If for three years he does not alter from the way of his father,
he may be called filial."
The philosopher Yu said, "In practicing the rules of propriety,
a natural ease is to be prized. In the ways prescribed by the ancient
kings, this is the excellent quality, and in things small and great
we follow them.
"Yet it is not to be observed in all cases. If one, knowing
how such ease should be prized, manifests it, without regulating
it by the rules of propriety, this likewise is not to be done."
The philosopher Yu said, "When agreements are made according
to what is right, what is spoken can be made good. When respect
is shown according to what is proper, one keeps far from shame
and disgrace. When the parties upon whom a man leans are proper
persons to be intimate with, he can make them his guides and masters."
The Master said, "He who aims to be a man of complete virtue
in his food does not seek to gratify his appetite, nor in his dwelling
place does he seek the appliances of ease; he is earnest in what
he is doing, and careful in his speech; he frequents the company
of men of principle that he may be rectified:-such a person may
be said indeed to love to learn."
Tsze-kung said, "What do you pronounce concerning the poor
man who yet does not flatter, and the rich man who is not proud?" The
Master replied, "They will do; but they are not equal to him,
who, though poor, is yet cheerful, and to him, who, though rich,
loves the rules of propriety."
Tsze-kung replied, "It is said in the Book of Poetry, 'As
you cut and then file, as you carve and then polish.'-The meaning
is the same, I apprehend, as that which you have just expressed."
The Master said, "With one like Ts'ze, I can begin to talk
about the odes. I told him one point, and he knew its proper sequence."
The Master said, "I will not be afflicted at men's not knowing
me; I will be afflicted that I do not know men."
The Master said, "He who exercises government by means of
his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps
its place and all the stars turn towards it."
The Master said, "In the Book of Poetry are three hundred
pieces, but the design of them all may be embraced in one sentence
'Having no depraved thoughts.'"
The Master said, "If the people be led by laws, and uniformity
sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid
the punishment, but have no sense of shame.
"If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given
them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame,
and moreover will become good."
The Master said, "At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning.
"At thirty, I stood firm.
"At forty, I had no doubts.
"At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven.
"At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception
"At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without
transgressing what was right."
Mang I asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "It
is not being disobedient."
Soon after, as Fan Ch'ih was driving him, the Master told him,
saying, "Mang-sun asked me what filial piety was, and I answered
him,-'not being disobedient.'"
Fan Ch'ih said, "What did you mean?" The Master replied, "That
parents, when alive, be served according to propriety; that, when
dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and that they
should be sacrificed to according to propriety."
Mang Wu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "Parents
are anxious lest their children should be sick."
Tsze-yu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "The
filial piety nowadays means the support of one's parents. But dogs
and horses likewise are able to do something in the way of support;-without
reverence, what is there to distinguish the one support given from
Tsze-hsia asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "The
difficulty is with the countenance. If, when their elders have
any troublesome affairs, the young take the toil of them, and if,
when the young have wine and food, they set them before their elders,
is THIS to be considered filial piety?"
The Master said, "I have talked with Hui for a whole day,
and he has not made any objection to anything I said;-as if he
were stupid. He has retired, and I have examined his conduct when
away from me, and found him able to illustrate my teachings. Hui!-He
is not stupid."
The Master said, "See what a man does.
"Mark his motives.
"Examine in what things he rests.
"How can a man conceal his character? How can a man conceal
The Master said, "If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge,
so as continually to be acquiring new, he may be a teacher of others."
The Master said, "The accomplished scholar is not a utensil."
Tsze-kung asked what constituted the superior man. The Master
said, "He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according
to his actions."
The Master said, "The superior man is catholic and not partisan.
The mean man is partisan and not catholic."
The Master said, "Learning without thought is labor lost;
thought without learning is perilous."
The Master said, "The study of strange doctrines is injurious
The Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is?
When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do
not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it;-this is knowledge."
Tsze-chang was learning with a view to official emolument.
The Master said, "Hear much and put aside the points of which
you stand in doubt, while you speak cautiously at the same time
of the others:-then you will afford few occasions for blame. See
much and put aside the things which seem perilous, while you are
cautious at the same time in carrying the others into practice:
then you will have few occasions for repentance. When one gives
few occasions for blame in his words, and few occasions for repentance
in his conduct, he is in the way to get emolument."
The Duke Ai asked, saying, "What should be done in order
to secure the submission of the people?" Confucius replied, "Advance
the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit.
Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people
will not submit."
Chi K'ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler,
to be faithful to him, and to go on to nerve themselves to virtue.
The Master said, "Let him preside over them with gravity;-then
they will reverence him. Let him be final and kind to all;-then
they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach
the incompetent;-then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous."
Some one addressed Confucius, saying, "Sir, why are you not
engaged in the government?"
The Master said, "What does the Shu-ching say of filial piety?-'You
are final, you discharge your brotherly duties. These qualities
are displayed in government.' This then also constitutes the exercise
of government. Why must there be THAT-making one be in the government?"
The Master said, "I do not know how a man without truthfulness
is to get on. How can a large carriage be made to go without the
crossbar for yoking the oxen to, or a small carriage without the
arrangement for yoking the horses?"
Tsze-chang asked whether the affairs of ten ages after could be
Confucius said, "The Yin dynasty followed the regulations
of the Hsia: wherein it took from or added to them may be known.
The Chau dynasty has followed the regulations of Yin: wherein it
took from or added to them may be known. Some other may follow
the Chau, but though it should be at the distance of a hundred
ages, its affairs may be known."
The Master said, "For a man to sacrifice to a spirit which
does not belong to him is flattery.
"To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage."
Confucius said of the head of the Chi family, who had eight rows
of pantomimes in his area, "If he can bear to do this, what
may he not bear to do?"
The three families used the Yungode, while the vessels were being
removed, at the conclusion of the sacrifice. The Master said, "'Assisting
are the princes;-the son of heaven looks profound and grave';-what
application can these words have in the hall of the three families?"
The Master said, "If a man be without the virtues proper
to humanity, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If
a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to
do with music?"
Lin Fang asked what was the first thing to be attended to in ceremonies.
The Master said, "A great question indeed!
"In festive ceremonies, it is better to be sparing than extravagant.
In the ceremonies of mourning, it is better that there be deep
sorrow than in minute attention to observances."
The Master said, "The rude tribes of the east and north have
their princes, and are not like the States of our great land which
are without them."
The chief of the Chi family was about to sacrifice to the T'ai
mountain. The Master said to Zan Yu, "Can you not save him
from this?" He answered, "I cannot." Confucius said, "Alas!
will you say that the T'ai mountain is not so discerning as Lin
The Master said, "The student of virtue has no contentions.
If it be said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery? But
he bows complaisantly to his competitors; thus he ascends the hall,
descends, and exacts the forfeit of drinking. In his contention,
he is still the Chun-tsze."
Tsze-hsia asked, saying, "What is the meaning of the passage-'The
pretty dimples of her artful smile! The well-defined black and
white of her eye! The plain ground for the colors?'"
The Master said, "The business of laying on the colors follows
the preparation of the plain ground."
"Ceremonies then are a subsequent thing?" The Master
said, "It is Shang who can bring out my meaning. Now I can
begin to talk about the odes with him."
The Master said, "I could describe the ceremonies of the
Hsia dynasty, but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I could
describe the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, but Sung cannot sufficiently
attest my words. They cannot do so because of the insufficiency
of their records and wise men. If those were sufficient, I could
adduce them in support of my words."
The Master said, "At the great sacrifice, after the pouring
out of the libation, I have no wish to look on."
Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. The Master
said, "I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it
as easy to govern the kingdom as to look on this"-pointing
to his palm.
He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed
to the spirits, as if the spirits were present.
The Master said, "I consider my not being present at the
sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice."
Wang-sun Chia asked, saying, "What is the meaning of the
saying, 'It is better to pay court to the furnace then to the southwest
The Master said, "Not so. He who offends against Heaven has
none to whom he can pray."
The Master said, "Chau had the advantage of viewing the two
past dynasties. How complete and elegant are its regulations! I
The Master, when he entered the grand temple, asked about everything.
Some one said, "Who say that the son of the man of Tsau knows
the rules of propriety! He has entered the grand temple and asks
about everything." The Master heard the remark, and said, "This
is a rule of propriety."
The Master said, "In archery it is not going through the
leather which is the principal thing;-because people's strength
is not equal. This was the old way."
Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected
with the inauguration of the first day of each month.
The Master said, "Ts'ze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony."
The Master said, "The full observance of the rules of propriety
in serving one's prince is accounted by people to be flattery."
The Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers,
and how ministers should serve their prince. Confucius replied, "A
prince should employ his minister according to according to the
rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness."
The Master said, "The Kwan Tsu is expressive of enjoyment
without being licentious, and of grief without being hurtfully
The Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo about the altars of the spirits of the
land. Tsai Wo replied, "The Hsia sovereign planted the pine
tree about them; the men of the Yin planted the cypress; and the
men of the Chau planted the chestnut tree, meaning thereby to cause
the people to be in awe."
When the Master heard it, he said, "Things that are done,
it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course,
it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is
needless to blame."
The Master said, "Small indeed was the capacity of Kwan Chung!"
Some one said, "Was Kwan Chung parsimonious?" "Kwan," was
the reply, "had the San Kwei, and his officers performed no
double duties; how can he be considered parsimonious?"
"Then, did Kwan Chung know the rules of propriety?" The
Master said, "The princes of States have a screen intercepting
the view at their gates. Kwan had likewise a screen at his gate.
The princes of States on any friendly meeting between two of them,
had a stand on which to place their inverted cups. Kwan had also
such a stand. If Kwan knew the rules of propriety, who does not
The Master instructing the grand music master of Lu said, "How
to play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all
the parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be
in harmony while severally distinct and flowing without break,
and thus on to the conclusion."
The border warden at Yi requested to be introduced to the Master,
saying, "When men of superior virtue have come to this, I
have never been denied the privilege of seeing them." The
followers of the sage introduced him, and when he came out from
the interview, he said, "My friends, why are you distressed
by your master's loss of office? The kingdom has long been without
the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your
master as a bell with its wooden tongue."
The Master said of the Shao that it was perfectly beautiful and
also perfectly good. He said of the Wu that it was perfectly beautiful
but not perfectly good.
The Master said, "High station filled without indulgent generosity;
ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted without
sorrow;-wherewith should I contemplate such ways?"
The Master said, "It is virtuous manners which constitute
the excellence of a neighborhood. If a man in selecting a residence
do not fix on one where such prevail, how can he be wise?"
The Master said, "Those who are without virtue cannot abide
long either in a condition of poverty and hardship, or in a condition
of enjoyment. The virtuous rest in virtue; the wise desire virtue."
The Master said, "It is only the truly virtuous man, who
can love, or who can hate, others."
The Master said, "If the will be set on virtue, there will
be no practice of wickedness."
The Master said, "Riches and honors are what men desire.
If they cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be
held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If they cannot
be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided.
"If a superior man abandon virtue, how can he fulfill the
requirements of that name?
"The superior man does not, even for the space of a single
meal, act contrary to virtue. In moments of haste, he cleaves to
it. In seasons of danger, he cleaves to it."
The Master said, "I have not seen a person who loved virtue,
or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue, would
esteem nothing above it. He who hated what is not virtuous, would
practice virtue in such a way that he would not allow anything
that is not virtuous to approach his person.
"Is any one able for one day to apply his strength to virtue?
I have not seen the case in which his strength would be insufficient.
"Should there possibly be any such case, I have not seen
The Master said, "The faults of men are characteristic of
the class to which they belong. By observing a man's faults, it
may be known that he is virtuous."
The Master said, "If a man in the morning hear the right
way, he may die in the evening hear regret."
The Master said, "A scholar, whose mind is set on truth,
and who is ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not fit to be
The Master said, "The superior man, in the world, does not
set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is
right he will follow."
The Master said, "The superior man thinks of virtue; the
small man thinks of comfort. The superior man thinks of the sanctions
of law; the small man thinks of favors which he may receive."
The Master said: "He who acts with a constant view to his
own advantage will be much murmured against."
The Master said, "If a prince is able to govern his kingdom
with the complaisance proper to the rules of propriety, what difficulty
will he have? If he cannot govern it with that complaisance, what
has he to do with the rules of propriety?"
The Master said, "A man should say, I am not concerned that
I have no place, I am concerned how I may fit myself for one. I
am not concerned that I am not known, I seek to be worthy to be
The Master said, "Shan, my doctrine is that of an all-pervading
unity." The disciple Tsang replied, "Yes."
The Master went out, and the other disciples asked, saying, "What
do his words mean?" Tsang said, "The doctrine of our
master is to be true to the principles-of our nature and the benevolent
exercise of them to others,-this and nothing more."
The Master said, "The mind of the superior man is conversant
with righteousness; the mind of the mean man is conversant with
The Master said, "When we see men of worth, we should think
of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should
turn inwards and examine ourselves."
The Master said, "In serving his parents, a son may remonstrate
with them, but gently; when he sees that they do not incline to
follow his advice, he shows an increased degree of reverence, but
does not abandon his purpose; and should they punish him, he does
not allow himself to murmur."
The Master said, "While his parents are alive, the son may
not go abroad to a distance. If he does go abroad, he must have
a fixed place to which he goes."
The Master said, "If the son for three years does not alter
from the way of his father, he may be called filial."
The Master said, "The years of parents may by no means not
be kept in the memory, as an occasion at once for joy and for fear."
The Master said, "The reason why the ancients did not readily
give utterance to their words, was that they feared lest their
actions should not come up to them."
The Master said, "The cautious seldom err."
The Master said, "The superior man wishes to be slow in his
speech and earnest in his conduct."
The Master said, "Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who
practices it will have neighbors."
Tsze-yu said, "In serving a prince, frequent remonstrances
lead to disgrace. Between friends, frequent reproofs make the friendship
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 character?"
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 tongue."
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 pleased.
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 Hui?"
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 to him."
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
Tsze-kung asked, saying, "On what ground did Kung-wan get
that title of Wan?"
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 virtuous?"
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
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
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 not advance."
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 age."
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
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 enlarge others.
"To be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves;-this
may be called the art of virtue."
The Master said, "A transmitter and not a maker, believing
in and loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our
The Master said, "The silent treasuring up of knowledge;
learning without satiety; and instructing others without being
wearied:-which one of these things belongs to me?"
The Master said, "The leaving virtue without proper cultivation;
the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to
move towards righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and
not being able to change what is not good:-these are the things
which occasion me solicitude."
When the Master was unoccupied with business, his manner was easy,
and he looked pleased.
The Master said, "Extreme is my decay. For a long time, I
have not dreamed, as I was wont to do, that I saw the duke of Chau."
The Master said, "Let the will be set on the path of duty.
"Let every attainment in what is good be firmly grasped.
"Let perfect virtue be accorded with.
"Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite arts."
The Master said, "From the man bringing his bundle of dried
flesh for my teaching upwards, I have never refused instruction
to any one."
The Master said, "I do not open up the truth to one who is
not eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious
to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject
to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not
repeat my lesson."
When the Master was eating by the side of a mourner, he never
ate to the full.
He did not sing on the same day in which he had been weeping.
The Master said to Yen Yuan, "When called to office, to undertake
its duties; when not so called, to he retired;-it is only I and
you who have attained to this."
Tsze-lu said, "If you had the conduct of the armies of a
great state, whom would you have to act with you?"
The Master said, "I would not have him to act with me, who
will unarmed attack a tiger, or cross a river without a boat, dying
without any regret. My associate must be the man who proceeds to
action full of solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans,
and then carries them into execution."
The Master said, "If the search for riches is sure to be
successful, though I should become a groom with whip in hand to
get them, I will do so. As the search may not be successful, I
will follow after that which I love."
The things in reference to which the Master exercised the greatest
caution were-fasting, war, and sickness.
When the Master was in Ch'i, he heard the Shao, and for three
months did not know the taste of flesh. "I did not think'" he
said, "that music could have been made so excellent as this."
Yen Yu said, "Is our Master for the ruler of Wei?" Tsze-kung
said, "Oh! I will ask him."
He went in accordingly, and said, "What sort of men were
Po-i and Shu-ch'i?" "They were ancient worthies," said
the Master. "Did they have any repinings because of their
course?" The Master again replied, "They sought to act
virtuously, and they did so; what was there for them to repine
about?" On this, Tsze-kung went out and said, "Our Master
is not for him."
The Master said, "With coarse rice to eat, with water to
drink, and my bended arm for a pillow;-I have still joy in the
midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness,
are to me as a floating cloud."
The Master said, "If some years were added to my life, I
would give fifty to the study of the Yi, and then I might come
to be without great faults."
The Master's frequent themes of discourse were-the Odes, the History,
and the maintenance of the Rules of Propriety. On all these he
The Duke of Sheh asked Tsze-lu about Confucius, and Tsze-lu did
not answer him.
The Master said, "Why did you not say to him,-He is simply
a man, who in his eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food,
who in the joy of its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does
not perceive that old age is coming on?"
The Master said, "I am not one who was born in the possession
of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in
seeking it there."
The subjects on which the Master did not talk, were-extraordinary
things, feats of strength, disorder, and spiritual beings.
The Master said, "When I walk along with two others, they
may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities
and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them."
The Master said, "Heaven produced the virtue that is in me.
Hwan T'ui-what can he do to me?"
The Master said, "Do you think, my disciples, that I have
any concealments? I conceal nothing from you. There is nothing
which I do that is not shown to you, my disciples; that is my way."
There were four things which the Master taught,-letters, ethics,
devotion of soul, and truthfulness.
The Master said, "A sage it is not mine to see; could I see
a man of real talent and virtue, that would satisfy me."
The Master said, "A good man it is not mine to see; could
I see a man possessed of constancy, that would satisfy me.
"Having not and yet affecting to have, empty and yet affecting
to be full, straitened and yet affecting to be at ease:-it is difficult
with such characteristics to have constancy."
The Master angled,-but did not use a net. He shot,-but not at
The Master said, "There may be those who act without knowing
why. I do not do so. Hearing much and selecting what is good and
following it; seeing much and keeping it in memory: this is the
second style of knowledge."
It was difficult to talk profitably and reputably with the people
of Hu-hsiang, and a lad of that place having had an interview with
the Master, the disciples doubted.
The Master said, "I admit people's approach to me without
committing myself as to what they may do when they have retired.
Why must one be so severe? If a man purify himself to wait upon
me, I receive him so purified, without guaranteeing his past conduct."
The Master said, "Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be
virtuous, and lo! virtue is at hand."
The minister of crime of Ch'an asked whether the duke Chao knew
propriety, and Confucius said, "He knew propriety."
Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch'i to
come forward, and said, "I have heard that the superior man
is not a partisan. May the superior man be a partisan also? The
prince married a daughter of the house of WU, of the same surname
with himself, and called her,-'The elder Tsze of Wu.' If the prince
knew propriety, who does not know it?"
Wu-ma Ch'i reported these remarks, and the Master said, "I
am fortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them."
When the Master was in company with a person who was singing,
if he sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while he accompanied
it with his own voice.
The Master said, "In letters I am perhaps equal to other
men, but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his
conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to."
The Master said, "The sage and the man of perfect virtue;-how
dare I rank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that
I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without
weariness." Kung-hsi Hwa said, "This is just what we,
the disciples, cannot imitate you in."
The Master being very sick, Tsze-lu asked leave to pray for him.
He said, "May such a thing be done?" Tsze-lu replied, "It
may. In the Eulogies it is said, 'Prayer has been made for thee
to the spirits of the upper and lower worlds.'" The Master
said, "My praying has been for a long time."
The Master said, "Extravagance leads to insubordination,
and parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be insubordinate."
The Master said, "The superior man is satisfied and composed;
the mean man is always full of distress."
The Master was mild, and yet dignified; majestic, and yet not
fierce; respectful, and yet easy.
The Master said, "T'ai-po may be said to have reached the
highest point of virtuous action. Thrice he declined the kingdom,
and the people in ignorance of his motives could not express their
approbation of his conduct."
The Master said, "Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety,
becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety,
becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes
insubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety,
"When those who are in high stations perform well all their
duties to their relations, the people are aroused to virtue. When
old friends are not neglected by them, the people are preserved
The philosopher Tsang being ill, he cared to him the disciples
of his school, and said, "Uncover my feet, uncover my hands.
It is said in the Book of Poetry, 'We should be apprehensive and
cautious, as if on the brink of a deep gulf, as if treading on
thin ice, I and so have I been. Now and hereafter, I know my escape
from all injury to my person. O ye, my little children."
The philosopher Tsang being ill, Meng Chang went to ask how he
Tsang said to him, "When a bird is about to die, its notes
are mournful; when a man is about to die, his words are good.
"There are three principles of conduct which the man of high
rank should consider specially important:-that in his deportment
and manner he keep from violence and heedlessness; that in regulating
his countenance he keep near to sincerity; and that in his words
and tones he keep far from lowness and impropriety. As to such
matters as attending to the sacrificial vessels, there are the
proper officers for them."
The philosopher Tsang said, "Gifted with ability, and yet
putting questions to those who were not so; possessed of much,
and yet putting questions to those possessed of little; having,
as though he had not; full, and yet counting himself as empty;
offended against, and yet entering into no altercation; formerly
I had a friend who pursued this style of conduct."
The philosopher Tsang said, "Suppose that there is an individual
who can be entrusted with the charge of a young orphan prince,
and can be commissioned with authority over a state of a hundred
li, and whom no emergency however great can drive from his principles:-is
such a man a superior man? He is a superior man indeed."
The philosopher Tsang said, "The officer may not be without
breadth of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and
his course is long.
"Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his
to sustain;-is it not heavy? Only with death does his course stop;-is
it not long?
The Master said, "It is by the Odes that the mind is aroused.
"It is by the Rules of Propriety that the character is established.
"It is from Music that the finish is received."
The Master said, "The people may be made to follow a path
of action, but they may not be made to understand it."
The Master said, "The man who is fond of daring and is dissatisfied
with poverty, will proceed to insubordination. So will the man
who is not virtuous, when you carry your dislike of him to an extreme."
The Master said, "Though a man have abilities as admirable
as those of the Duke of Chau, yet if he be proud and niggardly,
those other things are really not worth being looked at."
The Master said, "It is not easy to find a man who has learned
for three years without coming to be good."
The Master said, "With sincere faith he unites the love of
learning; holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence
of his course.
"Such an one will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell
in a disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail
in the kingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated,
he will keep concealed.
"When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition
are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches
and honor are things to be ashamed of."
The Master said, "He who is not in any particular office
has nothing to do with plans for the administration of its duties."
The Master said, "When the music master Chih first entered
on his office, the finish of the Kwan Tsu was magnificent;-how
it filled the ears!"
The Master said, "Ardent and yet not upright, stupid and
yet not attentive; simple and yet not sincere:-such persons I do
The Master said, "Learn as if you could not reach your object,
and were always fearing also lest you should lose it."
The Master said, "How majestic was the manner in which Shun
and Yu held possession of the empire, as if it were nothing to
The Master said, "Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign! How
majestic was he! It is only Heaven that is grand, and only Yao
corresponded to it. How vast was his virtue! The people could find
no name for it.
"How majestic was he in the works which he accomplished!
How glorious in the elegant regulations which he instituted!"
Shun had five ministers, and the empire was well governed.
King Wu said, "I have ten able ministers."
Confucius said, "Is not the saying that talents are difficult
to find, true? Only when the dynasties of T'ang and Yu met, were
they more abundant than in this of Chau, yet there was a woman
among them. The able ministers were no more than nine men.
"King Wan possessed two of the three parts of the empire,
and with those he served the dynasty of Yin. The virtue of the
house of Chau may be said to have reached the highest point indeed."
The Master said, "I can find no flaw in the character of
Yu. He used himself coarse food and drink, but displayed the utmost
filial piety towards the spirits. His ordinary garments were poor,
but he displayed the utmost elegance in his sacrificial cap and
apron. He lived in a low, mean house, but expended all his strength
on the ditches and water channels. I can find nothing like a flaw
The subjects of which the Master seldom spoke were-profitableness,
and also the appointments of Heaven, and perfect virtue.
A man of the village of Ta-hsiang said, "Great indeed is
the philosopher K'ung! His learning is extensive, and yet he does
not render his name famous by any particular thing."
The Master heard the observation, and said to his disciples, "What
shall I practice? Shall I practice charioteering, or shall I practice
archery? I will practice charioteering."
The Master said, "The linen cap is that prescribed by the
rules of ceremony, but now a silk one is worn. It is economical,
and I follow the common practice.
"The rules of ceremony prescribe the bowing below the hall,
but now the practice is to bow only after ascending it. That is
arrogant. I continue to bow below the hall, though I oppose the
There were four things from which the Master was entirely free.
He had no foregone conclusions, no arbitrary predeterminations,
no obstinacy, and no egoism.
The Master was put in fear in K'wang.
He said, "After the death of King Wan, was not the cause
of truth lodged here in me?
"If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish,
then I, a future mortal! should not have got such a relation to
that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish,
what can the people of K'wang do to me?"
A high officer asked Tsze-kung, saying, "May we not say that
your Master is a sage? How various is his ability!"
Tsze-kung said, "Certainly Heaven has endowed him unlimitedly.
He is about a sage. And, moreover, his ability is various."
The Master heard of the conversation and said, "Does the
high officer know me? When I was young, my condition was low, and
I acquired my ability in many things, but they were mean matters.
Must the superior man have such variety of ability? He does not
need variety of ability. Lao said, "The Master said, 'Having
no official employment, I acquired many arts.'"
The Master said, "Am I indeed possessed of knowledge? I am
not knowing. But if a mean person, who appears quite empty-like,
ask anything of me, I set it forth from one end to the other, and
The Master said, "The Fang bird does not come; the river
sends forth no map:-it is all over with me!"
When the Master saw a person in a mourning dress, or any one with
the cap and upper and lower garments of full dress, or a blind
person, on observing them approaching, though they were younger
than himself, he would rise up, and if he had to pass by them,
he would do so hastily.
Yen Yuan, in admiration of the Master's doctrines, sighed and
said, "I looked up to them, and they seemed to become more
high; I tried to penetrate them, and they seemed to become more
firm; I looked at them before me, and suddenly they seemed to be
"The Master, by orderly method, skillfully leads men on.
He enlarged my mind with learning, and taught me the restraints
"When I wish to give over the study of his doctrines, I cannot
do so, and having exerted all my ability, there seems something
to stand right up before me; but though I wish to follow and lay
hold of it, I really find no way to do so."
The Master being very ill, Tsze-lu wished the disciples to act
as ministers to him.
During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the
conduct of Yu been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when
I have them not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon
"Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers,
is it not better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples?
And though I may not get a great burial, shall I die upon the road?"
Tsze-kung said, "There is a beautiful gem here. Should I
lay it up in a case and keep it? or should I seek for a good price
and sell it?" The Master said, "Sell it! Sell it! But
I would wait for one to offer the price."
The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes
of the east.
Some one said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?" The
Master said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness
would there be?"
The Master said, "I returned from Wei to Lu, and then the
music was reformed, and the pieces in the Royal songs and Praise
songs all found their proper places."
The Master said, "Abroad, to serve the high ministers and
nobles; at home, to serve one's father and elder brothers; in all
duties to the dead, not to dare not to exert one's self; and not
to be overcome of wine:-which one of these things do I attain to?"
The Master standing by a stream, said, "It passes on just
like this, not ceasing day or night!"
The Master said, "I have not seen one who loves virtue as
he loves beauty."
The Master said, "The prosecution of learning may be compared
to what may happen in raising a mound. If there want but one basket
of earth to complete the work, and I stop, the stopping is my own
work. It may be compared to throwing down the earth on the level
ground. Though but one basketful is thrown at a time, the advancing
with it my own going forward."
The Master said, "Never flagging when I set forth anything
to him;-ah! that is Hui." The Master said of Yen Yuan, "Alas!
I saw his constant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress."
The Master said, "There are cases in which the blade springs,
but the plant does not go on to flower! There are cases where it
flowers but fruit is not subsequently produced!"
The Master said, "A youth is to be regarded with respect.
How do we know that his future will not be equal to our present?
If he reach the age of forty or fifty, and has not made himself
heard of, then indeed he will not be worth being regarded with
The Master said, "Can men refuse to assent to the words of
strict admonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of them
which is valuable. Can men refuse to be pleased with words of gentle
advice? But it is unfolding their aim which is valuable. If a man
be pleased with these words, but does not unfold their aim, and
assents to those, but does not reform his conduct, I can really
do nothing with him."
The Master said, "Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first
principles. Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you have
faults, do not fear to abandon them."
The Master said, "The commander of the forces of a large
state may be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot
be taken from him."
The Master said, "Dressed himself in a tattered robe quilted
with hemp, yet standing by the side of men dressed in furs, and
not ashamed;-ah! it is Yu who is equal to this!
"He dislikes none, he covets nothing;-what can he do but
what is good!"
Tsze-lu kept continually repeating these words of the ode, when
the Master said, "Those things are by no means sufficient
to constitute perfect excellence."
The Master said, "When the year becomes cold, then we know
how the pine and the cypress are the last to lose their leaves."
The Master said, "The wise are free from perplexities; the
virtuous from anxiety; and the bold from fear."
The Master said, "There are some with whom we may study in
common, but we shall find them unable to go along with us to principles.
Perhaps we may go on with them to principles, but we shall find
them unable to get established in those along with us. Or if we
may get so established along with them, we shall find them unable
to weigh occurring events along with us."
"How the flowers of the aspen-plum flutter and turn! Do I
not think of you? But your house is distant."
The Master said, "It is the want of thought about it. How
is it distant?"
Confucius, in his village, looked simple and sincere, and as if
he were not able to speak.
When he was in the prince's ancestral temple, or in the court,
he spoke minutely on every point, but cautiously.
When he was waiting at court, in speaking with the great officers
of the lower grade, he spoke freely, but in a straightforward manner;
in speaking with those of the higher grade, he did so blandly,
When the ruler was present, his manner displayed respectful uneasiness;
it was grave, but self-possessed.
When the prince called him to employ him in the reception of a
visitor, his countenance appeared to change, and his legs to move
forward with difficulty.
He inclined himself to the other officers among whom he stood,
moving his left or right arm, as their position required, but keeping
the skirts of his robe before and behind evenly adjusted.
He hastened forward, with his arms like the wings of a bird.
When the guest had retired, he would report to the prince, "The
visitor is not turning round any more."
When he entered the palace gate, he seemed to bend his body, as
if it were not sufficient to admit him.
When he was standing, he did not occupy the middle of the gateway;
when he passed in or out, he did not tread upon the threshold.
When he was passing the vacant place of the prince, his countenance
appeared to change, and his legs to bend under him, and his words
came as if he hardly had breath to utter them.
He ascended the reception hall, holding up his robe with both
his hands, and his body bent; holding in his breath also, as if
he dared not breathe.
When he came out from the audience, as soon as he had descended
one step, he began to relax his countenance, and had a satisfied
look. When he had got the bottom of the steps, he advanced rapidly
to his place, with his arms like wings, and on occupying it, his
manner still showed respectful uneasiness.
When he was carrying the scepter of his ruler, he seemed to bend
his body, as if he were not able to bear its weight. He did not
hold it higher than the position of the hands in making a bow,
nor lower than their position in giving anything to another. His
countenance seemed to change, and look apprehensive, and he dragged
his feet along as if they were held by something to the ground.
In presenting the presents with which he was charged, he wore
a placid appearance.
At his private audience, he looked highly pleased.
The superior man did not use a deep purple, or a puce color, in
the ornaments of his dress.
Even in his undress, he did not wear anything of a red or reddish
In warm weather, he had a single garment either of coarse or fine
texture, but he wore it displayed over an inner garment.
Over lamb's fur he wore a garment of black; over fawn's fur one
of white; and over fox's fur one of yellow.
The fur robe of his undress was long, with the right sleeve short.
He required his sleeping dress to be half as long again as his
When staying at home, he used thick furs of the fox or the badger.
When he put off mourning, he wore all the appendages of the girdle.
His undergarment, except when it was required to be of the curtain
shape, was made of silk cut narrow above and wide below.
He did not wear lamb's fur or a black cap on a visit of condolence.
On the first day of the month he put on his court robes, and presented
himself at court.
When fasting, he thought it necessary to have his clothes brightly
clean and made of linen cloth.
When fasting, he thought it necessary to change his food, and
also to change the place where he commonly sat in the apartment.
He did not dislike to have his rice finely cleaned, nor to have
his mince meat cut quite small.
He did not eat rice which had been injured by heat or damp and
turned sour, nor fish or flesh which was gone. He did not eat what
was discolored, or what was of a bad flavor, nor anything which
was ill-cooked, or was not in season.
He did not eat meat which was not cut properly, nor what was served
without its proper sauce.
Though there might be a large quantity of meat, he would not allow
what he took to exceed the due proportion for the rice. It was
only in wine that he laid down no limit for himself, but he did
not allow himself to be confused by it.
He did not partake of wine and dried meat bought in the market.
He was never without ginger when he ate. He did not eat much.
When he had been assisting at the prince's sacrifice, he did not
keep the flesh which he received overnight. The flesh of his family
sacrifice he did not keep over three days. If kept over three days,
people could not eat it.
When eating, he did not converse. When in bed, he did not speak.
Although his food might be coarse rice and vegetable soup, he
would offer a little of it in sacrifice with a grave, respectful
If his mat was not straight, he did not sit on it.
When the villagers were drinking together, upon those who carried
staffs going out, he also went out immediately after.
When the villagers were going through their ceremonies to drive
away pestilential influences, he put on his court robes and stood
on the eastern steps.
When he was sending complimentary inquiries to any one in another
state, he bowed twice as he escorted the messenger away.
Chi K'ang having sent him a present of physic, he bowed and received
it, saying, "I do not know it. I dare not taste it."
The stable being burned down, when he was at court, on his return
he said, "Has any man been hurt?" He did not ask about
When the he would adjust his mat, first taste it, and then give
it away to others. When the prince sent him a gift of undressed
meat, he would have it cooked, and offer it to the spirits of his
ancestors. When the prince sent him a gift of a living animal,
he would keep it alive.
When he was in attendance on the prince and joining in the entertainment,
the prince only sacrificed. He first tasted everything.
When he was ill and the prince came to visit him, he had his head
to the east, made his court robes be spread over him, and drew
his girdle across them.
When the prince's order called him, without waiting for his carriage
to be yoked, he went at once.
When he entered the ancestral temple of the state, he asked about
When any of his friends died, if he had no relations offices,
he would say, "I will bury him."
When a friend sent him a present, though it might be a carriage
and horses, he did not bow.
The only present for which he bowed was that of the flesh of sacrifice.
In bed, he did not lie like a corpse. At home, he did not put
on any formal deportment.
When he saw any one in a mourning dress, though it might be an
acquaintance, he would change countenance; when he saw any one
wearing the cap of full dress, or a blind person, though he might
be in his undress, he would salute him in a ceremonious manner.
To any person in mourning he bowed forward to the crossbar of
his carriage; he bowed in the same way to any one bearing the tables
When he was at an entertainment where there was an abundance of
provisions set before him, he would change countenance and rise
On a sudden clap of thunder, or a violent wind, he would change
When he was about to mount his carriage, he would stand straight,
holding the cord.
When he was in the carriage, he did not turn his head quite round,
he did not talk hastily, he did not point with his hands.
Seeing the countenance, it instantly rises. It flies round, and
by and by settles.
The Master said, "There is the hen-pheasant on the hill bridge.
At its season! At its season!" Tsze-lu made a motion to it.
Thrice it smelt him and then rose.
The Master said, "The men of former times in the matters
of ceremonies and music were rustics, it is said, while the men
of these latter times, in ceremonies and music, are accomplished
"If I have occasion to use those things, I follow the men
of former times."
The Master said, "Of those who were with me in Ch'an and
Ts'ai, there are none to be found to enter my door."
Distinguished for their virtuous principles and practice, there
were Yen Yuan, Min Tsze-ch'ien, Zan Po-niu, and Chung-kung; for
their ability in speech, Tsai Wo and Tsze-kung; for their administrative
talents, Zan Yu and Chi Lu; for their literary acquirements, Tsze-yu
The Master said, "Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing
that I say in which he does not delight."
The Master said, "Filial indeed is Min Tsze-ch'ien! Other
people say nothing of him different from the report of his parents
Nan Yung was frequently repeating the lines about a white scepter
stone. Confucius gave him the daughter of his elder brother to
Chi K'ang asked which of the disciples loved to learn. Confucius
replied to him, "There was Yen Hui; he loved to learn. Unfortunately
his appointed time was short, and he died. Now there is no one
who loves to learn, as he did."
When Yen Yuan died, Yen Lu begged the carriage of the Master to
sell and get an outer shell for his son's coffin.
The Master said, "Every one calls his son his son, whether
he has talents or has not talents. There was Li; when he died,
he had a coffin but no outer shell. I would not walk on foot to
get a shell for him, because, having followed in the rear of the
great officers, it was not proper that I should walk on foot."
When Yen Yuan died, the Master said, "Alas! Heaven is destroying
me! Heaven is destroying me!"
When Yen Yuan died, the Master bewailed him exceedingly, and the
disciples who were with him said, "Master, your grief is excessive!"
"Is it excessive?" said he. "If I am not to mourn
bitterly for this man, for whom should I mourn?"
When Yen Yuan died, the disciples wished to give him a great funeral,
and the Master said, "You may not do so."