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The Sayings of Confucius.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


THE MASTER said: “In learning and straightway practising is there not pleasure also? When friends gather round from afar do we not rejoice? Whom lack of fame cannot vex is not he a gentleman?”Yu-tzu said: “A dutiful son and brother is seldom fond of thwarting those over him: a man unwilling to thwart those over him is never given to crime. A gentleman nurses the roots: when the root has taken, the truth will grow; and what are the roots of love, but the duty of son and of brother?”The Master said: “Honeyed words and flattering looks seldom speak of love.”Tseng-tzu said: “Thrice daily I ask myself: ‘Have I been unfaithful in dealing for others? Have I been untrue to friends? Do I practise what I preach?’”The Master said: “To guide a land of a thousand chariots, honour business, be true and sparing, love the people, and time thy claims upon them.”The Master said: “The young should be dutiful at home, modest abroad, heedful and true, full of goodwill for the many, close friends with love; and should they have strength to spare, let them spend it upon the arts.”Tzu-hsia said: “If a man honour worth and forsake lust, serve father and mother with all his strength, be ready to give his life for the king, and keep faith with his friends; though men may call him rude, I call him learned.”The Master said: “Of a gentleman who is frivolous none stand in awe, nor can his learning be sound. Make faithfulness and truth thy masters: have no friends unlike thyself: be not ashamed to mend thy faults.”Tseng-tzu said: “Respect death and recall forefathers, the good in men will again grow sturdy.”Tzu-ch´in said to Tzu-kung: “The Master, on coming to a country, learns all about the government: does he ask, or is it told him?”
Tzu-kung said: “The Master learns it by his warmth and honesty, by politeness, modesty, and yielding. The way that the Master asks is unlike other men’s asking.”The Master said: “As long as his father lives a son should study his wishes; after he is dead, he should study his life. If for three years he do not forsake his father’s ways, he may be called dutiful.”Yu-tzu said: “In daily courtesy ease is of price. This was the beauty of the old kings’ ways; this they followed in small and great. But knowing this, it is not right to give way to ease, unchecked by courtesy. This also is wrong.”Yu-tzu said: “If promises hug the right, word can be kept: if attentions are bounded by courtesy, shame will be banished: heroes may be worshipped, if we choose them aright.”The Master said: “A gentleman who is not a greedy eater, nor a lover of ease at home, who is earnest in deed and careful of speech, who seeks the righteous and profits by them, may be called fond of learning.”Tzu-kung said: “Poor, but no flatterer; rich, but not proud. How were that?”
“Good,” said the Master; “but better still were poor, yet merry; rich, yet courteous.”
Tzu-kung said: “Where the poem says:
  • ‘If ye cut, if ye file,
  • If ye polish and grind’;
  • is that what is meant?”
    The Master said: “Now I can talk of poetry to thee, Tz´u. Given a clue, thou canst find the way.”The Master said: “Not to be known should not grieve you: grieve that ye know not men.”