Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > The Sayings of Confucius
   The Sayings of Confucius.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
[1]  THE MASTER said: “Yung 1 might fill the seat of a prince.”
  “And might Tzu-sang Po-tzu?” asked Chung-kung.
  “Yes,” said the Master: “but he is lax.”
  “To be lax in his claims on the people might be right,” said Chung-kung, “were he stern to self; but to be lax to self and lax to others must surely be over-lax.”
  The Master said: “What Yung says is true.”
[2]    Duke Ai asked which disciples were fond of learning.
  Confucius answered: “Yen Hui 2 loved learning. His anger fell not astray; he made no mistake twice. By ill-luck his life was cut short. Now that he is gone, I hear of no one who is fond of learning.”
[3]    Tzu-hua 3 having been sent to Ch´i, the disciple Jan asked for grain to give to his mother.
  The Master said: “Give her a bushel.”
  He asked for more.
  The Master said: “Give her half a quarter.”
  Jan gave her twenty-five quarters.
  The Master said: “On his way to Ch´i, Ch´ih 4 was drawn by sleek horses, clad in fine furs. A gentleman, I have heard, helps the needy: he does not swell riches.”
  When Yüan Ssu 5 was governor his pay was nine hundred measures of grain. On his refusing it, the Master said: “Not so. Why not take it and give it to thy neighbours and country-folk.”
[4]    Of Chung-kung the Master said: “If the calf of a brindled cow be red and horned, though men be shy to offer him, will the hills and streams disdain him?”
[5]    The Master said: “For three months together Hui’s 6 heart never sinned against love. The others may hold out for a day, or a month; but no more.”
[6]    Chi K´ang 7 asked whether Chung-yu 8 were fit for power.
  The Master said: “Yu 8 has character; what would governing be to him?”
  “And Tz´u, 9 is he fit for power?”
  “Tz´u is intelligent; what would governing be to him?
  “And Ch´iu, 10 is he fit for power?”
  “Ch´iu has ability; what would governing be to him?”
[7]    The Chi sent to make Min Tzu-ch´ien 11 governor of Pi.
  Min Tzu-ch´ien said: “Make some good excuse for me. If he send again, I must be across the Wen.”
[8]    When Po-niu 12 was ill the Master went to ask after him. Grasping his hand through the window, he said: “He is dying. It is our lot. But why this man of such an illness? why this man of such an illness?”
[9]    The Master said: “What a man was Hui! 13 A dish of rice, a gourd of water, in a low alleyway; no man can bear such misery! Yet Hui never fell from mirth. What a man he was!”
[10]    Jan Ch´iu 14 said: “Pleasure in the Master’s path I do not lack: I lack strength.”
  The Master said: “Who lacks strength faints by the way; thou puttest a curb upon thee.”
[11]    The Master said to Tzu-hsia: “Read to become a gentleman; do not read as the vulgar do.”
[12]    When Tzu-yu was governor of Wu-ch´eng, 15 the Master said: “Hast thou gotten any men?”
  He answered: “I have Tan-t´ai Mieh-ming. When walking he will not take a short-cut; he has never come to my house except on business.”
[13]    The Master said: “Meng Chih-fan never bragged. He was covering the rear in a rout; but when the gate was reached, he whipped up his horse and cried; ‘Not courage kept me behind; my horse won’t go!’”
[14]    The Master said: “Unless glib as the reader T´o, and handsome as Chao of Sung, escape is hard in the times that be!”
[15]    The Master said: “Who can go out except by the door? Why is it no one keeps to the way?”
[16]    The Master said: “Nature outweighing art begets roughness; art outweighing nature begets pedantry. Art and nature well blent make a gentleman.”
[17]    The Master said: “Man is born upright. If he cease to be so and live, he is lucky to escape!”
[18]    The Master said: “Who knows does not rank with him who likes, nor he who likes with him who is glad therein.”
[19]    The Master said: “To men above the common we may speak of things above the common. To men below the common we must not speak of things above the common.”
[20]    Fan Ch´ih 16 asked, What is wisdom?
  The Master said: “To foster right amongst the people; to honour the ghosts of the dead, whilst keeping aloof from them, may be called wisdom.”
  He asked, What is love?
  The Master said: “To rank the effort above the prize may be called love.”
[21]    The Master said: “Wisdom delights in water; love delights in hills. Wisdom is stirring; love is quiet. Wisdom enjoys life; love grows old.”
[22]    The Master said: “By one revolution Ch´i might grown as Lu: by one revolution Lu might win to truth.”
[23]    The Master said: “A drinking horn that is no horn! What a horn! What a drinking horn!”
[24]    Tsai Wo 17 said: “Were a man who loves told that there is a man in a well, would he go in after him?”
  The Master said: “Why should he? A gentleman might be brought to the well, but not entrapped into it. He may be cheated; he is not to be fooled.”
[25]    The Master said: “By breadth of reading and the ties of courtesy a gentleman will also keep from error’s path.”
[26]    The Master saw Nan-tzu. 18 Tzu-lu was displeased. The Master took an oath, saying: “If there were sin in me may Heaven forsake me, may Heaven forsake me!”
[27]    The Master said: “The highest goodness is to hold fast the golden mean. Amongst the people it has long been rare.”
[28]    Tzu-kung said: “To treat the people with bounty and help the many, how were that? Could it be called love?”
  The Master said: “What has this to do with love? Would it not be holiness? Both Yao and Shun 19 still yearned for this. In seeking a foothold for self, love finds a foothold for others; seeking light for itself, it enlightens others also. To learn from the near at hand may be called the key to love.”
Note 1. The disciple Chung-kung. [back]
Note 2. The disciple Yen Yüan. [back]
Note 3. The disciple Kung-hsi Hua, or Kung-hsi Ch´ih. [back]
Note 4. The disciple Kung-hsi Hua, or Kung-hsi Ch´ih. [back]
Note 5. A disciple. [back]
Note 6. The disciple Yen Yüan. [back]
Note 7. Head of the Chi clan after the death of Chi Huan. [back]
Note 8. The disciple Tzu-lu. [back]
Note 9. The disciple Tzu-kung. [back]
Note 10. The disciple Jan Yu. [back]
Note 11. A disciple. [back]
Note 12. A disciple. [back]
Note 13. The disciple of Yen Yüan. [back]
Note 14. The disciple Jan Yu. [back]
Note 15. A town in Lu, belonging to the Chi. [back]
Note 16. A disciple  [back]
Note 17. A disciple. [back]
Note 18. The dissolute wife of Duke Ling of Wei. [back]
Note 19. Two emperors of the golden age. [back]


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