The Master said to Yen Yüan: I and thou alone can both fill a post when given one and live unseen when passed by. Tzu-lu said: Had ye to command three armies, Sir, who should go with you? No man, said the Master, ready to fly unarmed at a tiger, or plunge into a river and die without a pang should be with me; but one, rather, who is wary before a move and gains his end by well-laid plans.
Jan Yu said: Is the Master for the King of Wei?3 I will ask him, said Tzu-kung. He went in, and said: What kind of men were Po-yi4 and Shu-ch´i? Worthy men of yore, said the Master. Did they rue the past? They sought love and found it; what had they to rue? Tzu-kung went out, and said: The Master is not on his side. The Master said: Living on coarse rice and water, with bent arm for pillow, mirth may be ours; but ill-gotten wealth and honours are to me a wandering cloud.
The Duke of She asked Tzu-lu about Confucius. Tzu-lu did not answer. The Master said: Why couldst thou not say: He is a man so eager that he forgets to eat, whose cares are lost in triumph, unmindful of approaching age?
The Master said: A holy man I shall not live to see; enough could I find a gentleman! A good man I shall not live to see; enough could I find a steadfast one! But when nothing poses as something, cloud as substance, want as riches, steadfastness must be rare.
It was ill talking to the Hu villagers. A lad having been admitted, the disciples wondered. The Master said: I allow his coming, not what is to come. Why be so harsh? If a man cleanse himself to gain admission, I admit his cleanness, but go not bail for his past.
A judge of Ch´en asked whether Duke of Chao8 knew courtesy. Confucius answered: He knew courtesy. After Confucius had left, the judge beckoned Wu-ma Ch´i9 to his side, and said: I had heard that gentlemen are of no party, but are they too for party? The prince married a Wu, of the same name as himself, and called her Miss Tzu of Wu. If the prince knew courtesy, who does not know courtesy? When Wu-ma Ch´i told this to the Master, he said: How lucky I am! If I make a slip, men are sure to know it!
The Master said: How dare I lay claim to holiness or love? A man of endless craving I might be called, an unflagging teacher; but nothing more. That is just what we disciples cannot learn, said Kung-hsi Hua.
The Master being very ill, Tzu-lu asked leave to pray. The Master said: Is it the custom? It is, answered Tzu-lu. The Memorials say, Pray to the spirits in heaven above and on earth below. The Master said: Long lasting has my prayer been.
The Master was friendly, yet dignified; he inspired awe, but not fear; he was respectful, yet easy.
Note 1. Of old P´eng we should be glad to know more, but the rest is silence. [back]
Note 2. Died B.C. 1105. He was the younger brother of King Wu, the founder of the dynasty, as great in peace as the king in war. He was so anxious to carry out olden principles, that when aught he saw did not tally with them, he would look up in thought, till day gave way to night; and if by good luck he found the answer, would sit on waiting for dawn (Mencius, IV. B. 20). [back]
Note 3. The grandson of Duke Ling, husband of Nan-tzu. His father had been driven from the country for planning to kill Nan-tzu. When Duke Ling died, he was succeeded by his grandson, who opposed by force his fathers attempts to seize the throne. [back]