It was difficult to talk
profitably and reputably with the people of Hu-hsiang, and a lad
of that place having had an interview with the Master, the
The Master said, "I admit people's approach to me without
committing myself as to what they may do when they have retired.
Why must one be so severe? If a man purify himself to wait upon
me, I receive him so purified, without guaranteeing his past
The Master said, "Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be
virtuous, and lo! virtue is at hand."
The minister of crime of Ch'an asked whether the duke Chao knew
propriety, and Confucius said, "He knew propriety."
Confucius having retired, the minister bowed to Wu-ma Ch'i to
come forward, and said, "I have heard that the superior man is
not a partisan. May the superior man be a partisan also? The
prince married a daughter of the house of WU, of the same
surname with himself, and called her,-'The elder Tsze of Wu.' If
the prince knew propriety, who does not know it?"
Wu-ma Ch'i reported these remarks, and the Master said, "I am
fortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them."
When the Master was in company with a person who was singing, if
he sang well, he would make him repeat the song, while he
accompanied it with his own voice.
The Master said, "In letters I am perhaps equal to other men,
but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his
conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to."
The Master said, "The sage and the man of perfect virtue;-how
dare I rank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that
I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others
without weariness." Kung-hsi Hwa said, "This is just what we,
the disciples, cannot imitate you in."
The Master being very sick, Tsze-lu asked leave to pray for him.
He said, "May such a thing be done?" Tsze-lu replied, "It may.
In the Eulogies it is said, 'Prayer has been made for thee to
the spirits of the upper and lower worlds.'" The Master said,
"My praying has been for a long time."
The Master said, "Extravagance leads to insubordination, and
parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be
The Master said, "The superior man is satisfied and composed;
the mean man is always full of distress."
The Master was mild, and yet dignified; majestic, and yet not
fierce; respectful, and yet easy.
The Master said, "T'ai-po may be said to have reached the
highest point of virtuous action. Thrice he declined the
kingdom, and the people in ignorance of his motives could not
express their approbation of his conduct."
The Master said, "Respectfulness, without the rules of
propriety, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the
rules of propriety, becomes timidity; boldness, without the
rules of propriety, becomes insubordination;
straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes
"When those who are in high stations perform well all their
duties to their relations, the people are aroused to virtue.
When old friends are not neglected by them, the people are
preserved from meanness."
The philosopher Tsang being ill, he cared to him the disciples
of his school, and said, "Uncover my feet, uncover my hands. It
is said in the Book of Poetry, 'We should be apprehensive and
cautious, as if on the brink of a deep gulf, as if treading on
thin ice, I and so have I been. Now and hereafter, I know my
escape from all injury to my person. O ye, my little children."
The philosopher Tsang being ill, Meng Chang went to ask how he
Tsang said to him, "When a bird is about to die, its notes are
mournful; when a man is about to die, his words are good.
"There are three principles of conduct which the man of high
rank should consider specially important:-that in his deportment
and manner he keep from violence and heedlessness; that in
regulating his countenance he keep near to sincerity; and that
in his words and tones he keep far from lowness and impropriety.
As to such matters as attending to the sacrificial vessels,
there are the proper officers for them."
The philosopher Tsang said, "Gifted with ability, and yet
putting questions to those who were not so; possessed of much,
and yet putting questions to those possessed of little; having,
as though he had not; full, and yet counting himself as empty;
offended against, and yet entering into no altercation; formerly
I had a friend who pursued this style of conduct."
The philosopher Tsang said, "Suppose that there is an individual
who can be entrusted with the charge of a young orphan prince,
and can be commissioned with authority over a state of a hundred
li, and whom no emergency however great can drive from his
principles:-is such a man a superior man? He is a superior man
The philosopher Tsang said, "The officer may not be without
breadth of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and
his course is long.
"Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his to
sustain;-is it not heavy? Only with death does his course
stop;-is it not long?
The Master said, "It is by the Odes that the mind is aroused.
"It is by the Rules of Propriety that the character is
"It is from Music that the finish is received."
The Master said, "The people may be made to follow a path of
action, but they may not be made to understand it."
The Master said, "The man who is fond of daring and is
dissatisfied with poverty, will proceed to insubordination. So
will the man who is not virtuous, when you carry your dislike of
him to an extreme."
The Master said, "Though a man have abilities as admirable as
those of the Duke of Chau, yet if he be proud and niggardly,
those other things are really not worth being looked at."
The Master said, "It is not easy to find a man who has learned
for three years without coming to be good."
The Master said, "With sincere faith he unites the love of
learning; holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence
of his course.
"Such an one will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell in a
disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail in
the kingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he
will keep concealed.
"When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition
are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed,
riches and honor are things to be ashamed of."
The Master said, "He who is not in any particular office has
nothing to do with plans for the administration of its duties."
The Master said, "When the music master Chih first entered on
his office, the finish of the Kwan Tsu was magnificent;-how it
filled the ears!"
The Master said, "Ardent and yet not upright, stupid and yet not
attentive; simple and yet not sincere:-such persons I do not
The Master said, "Learn as if you could not reach your object,
and were always fearing also lest you should lose it."
The Master said, "How majestic was the manner in which Shun and
Yu held possession of the empire, as if it were nothing to them!
The Master said, "Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign! How
majestic was he! It is only Heaven that is grand, and only Yao
corresponded to it. How vast was his virtue! The people could
find no name for it.
"How majestic was he in the works which he accomplished! How
glorious in the elegant regulations which he instituted!"