When steward of the Chi, Chung-kung asked how to rule. The Master said: Let officers act first: overlook small faults: raise worth and talent. Chung-kung said: How shall I learn to know the worth and talent I have to raise? Raise those thou dost know, said the Master; and those unknown to thee, will other men pass by?
Tzu-lu said: The King of Wei1 looks to you, Sir, to govern. How shall ye begin? If need were, said the Master, by putting names right. Indeed, said Tzu-lu, that is far fetched, Sir! Why put them right? Yu, said the Master, thou art ill-bred. On matters beyond his ken a gentleman speaks with caution. If names are not right, words are misused. When words are misused, affairs go wrong. When affairs go wrong, courtesy and music droop. When courtesy and music droop, law and justice fail. And when law and justice fail them, a people can move neither hand nor foot. So a gentleman must be ready to put names into speech, to put words into deed. A gentleman is nowise careless of words.
Fan Ch´ih asked to be taught husbandry. The Master said: I cannot rank with an old husbandman. He asked to be taught gardening. The Master said: I cannot rank with an old gardener. After Fan Ch´ih had left, the Master said: How small a man! If those above love courtesy, none will dare to slight them: if those above love right, none will dare to disobey: if those above love truth, none will dare to hide the heart. Then, from the four corners of the earth, folk will gather, their children on their backs; what need will there be for husbandry?
The Master said: Though a man have conned three hundred poems; if he stand helpless when put to govern; if he cannot answer for himself, when sent to the four corners of the earth; despite their number, what have they done for him?
Speaking of Ching, of the ducal house of Wei, the Master said: He was wise in his private life. When he had begun saving, he said, This is much. When he grew better off, he said Now we lack nothing. And when he was rich, he said We live in splendour.
Whilst Jan Yu was driving him on the road to Wei, the Master said: What numbers! Jan Yu said: Since numbers are here, what next is needed? Wealth, said the Master. And after wealth, what next were needed? Teaching, said the Master.
As the disciple Jan2 came back from court, the Master said to him: Business of state kept me, he answered. Household business, said the Master. Though I am out of office, I had heard were there business of state.
Duke Ting asked: Is there any one saying that can prosper a kingdom? Confucius answered: That is more than words can do. But a proverb says Hard it is to be king, nor yet light to be minister. And did one know how hard it is to be king, might not this saying all but prosper a kingdom? And is there any one saying that can wreck a kingdom? That is more than words can do, Confucius answered. But a proverb says My one joy as king is that none withstand what I say. Now if none withstand him when right, will it not be well? But if none withstand him when wrong, might not this saying all but wreck a kingdom?
Tzu-hsia, when governor of Chu-fu, asked how to rule. The Master said: Never be in a hurry: shut thine eyes to small gains. Nought done in a hurry is thorough, and an eye for small gain means big things undone.
The Duke of She told Confucius: Among the upright men of my home if the father steal a sheep his son will bear witness. Confucius answered: Our peoples uprightness is unlike that. The father screens his son, the son screens his father. There is uprightness in this.
Tzu-kung asked, When can a man be called a good crown servant? The Master said: In private life he wants a sense of shame: if sent to the four corners of the earth he must not disgrace the kings commands. May I ask who would rank second? A man who his clansmen call dutiful, and his neighbours call modest. May I ask who would rank next? A man who clings to his word and sticks to his course, a flinty little fellow, would perhaps come next. And how are the crown servants of to-day? What! The weights and measures men! said the Master. Are they worth reckoning?
The Master said: As followers of the golden mean are not to be found, I have to work with ambitious and headstrong men. Ambitious men push ahead, and there are things that headstrong men will not do.
The Master said: The men of the south say, Unless steadfast a man will make neither a wizard nor a leech. This is true. A falling off in merit will reap disgrace. The Master said: Neglect of the omens, that is all.
Tzu-kung said: Would it be right if a man were liked by all his neighbours? No, said the Master. And would it be right if a man were hated by all his neighbours? No, said the Master. It would be better if the good men of the neighbourhood liked him, and the bad men of the neighbourhood hated him.
The Master said: A gentleman is easy to serve, and hard to please. Nought but what is right pleases him: he fits his behests to the man. The vulgar are hard to serve, and easy to please. What is wrong may yet please them: but of their men they expect all things.