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


THE MASTER said: “Yung 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.”Duke Ai asked which disciples were fond of learning.
Confucius answered: “Yen Hui 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.”Tzu-hua 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 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 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.”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?”The Master said: “For three months together Hui’s heart never sinned against love. The others may hold out for a day, or a month; but no more.”Chi K´ang asked whether Chung-yu 8 were fit for power.
The Master said: “Yu has character; what would governing be to him?”
“And Tz´u, is he fit for power?”
“Tz´u is intelligent; what would governing be to him?
“And Ch´iu, is he fit for power?”
“Ch´iu has ability; what would governing be to him?”The Chi sent to make Min Tzu-ch´ien governor of Pi.
Min Tzu-ch´ien said: “Make some good excuse for me. If he send again, I must be across the Wen.”When Po-niu 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?”The Master said: “What a man was Hui! 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!”Jan Ch´iu 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.”The Master said to Tzu-hsia: “Read to become a gentleman; do not read as the vulgar do.”When Tzu-yu was governor of Wu-ch´eng, 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.”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!’”The Master said: “Unless glib as the reader T´o, and handsome as Chao of Sung, escape is hard in the times that be!”The Master said: “Who can go out except by the door? Why is it no one keeps to the way?”The Master said: “Nature outweighing art begets roughness; art outweighing nature begets pedantry. Art and nature well blent make a gentleman.”The Master said: “Man is born upright. If he cease to be so and live, he is lucky to escape!”The Master said: “Who knows does not rank with him who likes, nor he who likes with him who is glad therein.”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.”Fan Ch´ih 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.”The Master said: “Wisdom delights in water; love delights in hills. Wisdom is stirring; love is quiet. Wisdom enjoys life; love grows old.”The Master said: “By one revolution Ch´i might grown as Lu: by one revolution Lu might win to truth.”The Master said: “A drinking horn that is no horn! What a horn! What a drinking horn!”Tsai Wo 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.”The Master said: “By breadth of reading and the ties of courtesy a gentleman will also keep from error’s path.”The Master saw Nan-tzu. Tzu-lu was displeased. The Master took an oath, saying: “If there were sin in me may Heaven forsake me, may Heaven forsake me!”The Master said: “The highest goodness is to hold fast the golden mean. Amongst the people it has long been rare.”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 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.”