The Library

The Analects of Confucius


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 rudeness.
"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 was.
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 indeed."
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 established.
"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!"
Shun had five ministers, and the empire was well governed.
King Wu said, "I have ten able ministers."
Confucius said, "Is not the saying that talents are difficult to
find, true? Only when the dynasties of T'ang and Yu met, were they
more abundant than in this of Chau, yet there was a woman among
them. The able ministers were no more than nine men.
"King Wan possessed two of the three parts of the empire, and with
those he served the dynasty of Yin. The virtue of the house of Chau
may be said to have reached the highest point indeed."
The Master said, "I can find no flaw in the character of Yu. He used
himself coarse food and drink, but displayed the utmost filial piety
towards the spirits. His ordinary garments were poor, but he displayed
the utmost elegance in his sacrificial cap and apron. He lived in a
low, mean house, but expended all his strength on the ditches and
water channels. I can find nothing like a flaw in Yu."