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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [The Chinese philosopher; born 551 B.C.; at twenty-two came forward as a public teacher; one of the chief ministers of the king, 499, and, later, minister of justice; spent the rest of his life, after retiring from public affairs, in travel, inculcating his doctrines; died 478.]
  • Those who have been united in life should not be parted after death.

  • Causing the remains of his mother to be buried beside those of his father.
  • “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided” (2 Sam. i. 23).
  • He said of a woman whose father-in-law, husband, and son had been killed by tigers, but who preferred to remain where she was, because the government was not oppressive, “Oppressive government is more cruel than a tiger.”
  • He told one of his disciples to take a horse from his carriage, and present it in payment of the funeral expenses of a friend, with whose family he had been condoling while on a journey. “I dislike,” he said, “the thought of my tears not being followed by any thing.”
  • He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north-pole star, which keeps its place, and all the other stars turn towards it.

  • This and the following are from the “Analects,” or “Table” Talk,” London, 1867:—
  • When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson.
  • In the book of poetry are three hundred pieces; but the design of them all may be embraced in that one sentence, “Have no depraved thoughts.” [Socrates said, “I pray thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within.”]
  • Learning without thought is labor lost: thought without learning is perilous.
  • “A little learning is a dangerous thing.”
  • POPE: Essay on Criticism. II. 15.
  • Gravity is only the bark of wisdom’s tree, but it preserves it.

  • La Rochefoucauld defined gravity as a mystery of matter invented to conceal faults of mind (un mystère de corps inventé pour dissimuler les défauts de l’esprit).
  • He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.
  • When we see men of worth, we should think of becoming like them: when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inward and examine ourselves.
  • What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others. [A negative form of the Golden Rule.]
  • I am not concerned that I have no office: I am concerned how I may fit myself for one. I am not concerned that I am not known: I seek to be worthy to be known.
  • When the accomplishments and solid qualities are equally blended, we then have the man of complete virtue.
  • The superior man thinks of virtue: the small man thinks of comfort. The superior man thinks of the sanctions of law: the small man thinks of the favors which he may receive.
  • The superior man is affable, but not adulatory: the mean man is adulatory, but not affable.
  • I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. [In the discouragement of his latter days.]
  • What the superior man seeks is in himself: what the small man seeks is in others.
  • A poor man who does not flatter, and a rich man who is not proud, are passable characters; but they are not equal to the poor who are cheerful, and the rich who yet love the rules of propriety.
  • Extravagance leads to insubordination, and parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than insubordinate.
  • A man can enlarge his principles: principles do not enlarge the man.
  • The cautious seldom err.