The Library

The Analects of Confucius


Hsien asked what was shameful. The Master said, "When good
government prevails in a state, to be thinking only of salary; and,
when bad government prevails, to be thinking, in the same way, only of
salary;-this is shameful."
"When the love of superiority, boasting, resentments, and
covetousness are repressed, this may be deemed perfect virtue."
The Master said, "This may be regarded as the achievement of what is
difficult. But I do not know that it is to be deemed perfect virtue."
The Master said, "The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is
not fit to be deemed a scholar."
The Master said, "When good government prevails in a state, language
may be lofty and bold, and actions the same. When bad government
prevails, the actions may be lofty and bold, but the language may be
with some reserve."
The Master said, "The virtuous will be sure to speak correctly,
but those whose speech is good may not always be virtuous. Men of
principle are sure to be bold, but those who are bold may not always
be men of principle."
Nan-kung Kwo, submitting an inquiry to Confucius, said, "I was
skillful at archery, and Ao could move a boat along upon the land, but
neither of them died a natural death. Yu and Chi personally wrought at
the toils of husbandry, and they became possessors of the kingdom."
The Master made no reply; but when Nan-kung Kwo went out, he said,
"A superior man indeed is this! An esteemer of virtue indeed is this!"
The Master said, "Superior men, and yet not always virtuous, there
have been, alas! But there never has been a mean man, and, at the same
time, virtuous."
The Master said, "Can there be love which does not lead to
strictness with its object? Can there be loyalty which does not lead
to the instruction of its object?"
The Master said, "In preparing the governmental notifications, P'i
Shan first made the rough draft; Shi-shu examined and discussed its
contents; Tsze-yu, the manager of foreign intercourse, then polished
the style; and, finally, Tsze-ch'an of Tung-li gave it the proper
elegance and finish."
Some one asked about Tsze-ch'an. The Master said, "He was a kind
He asked about Tsze-hsi. The Master said, "That man! That man!"
He asked about Kwan Chung. "For him," said the Master, "the city
of Pien, with three hundred families, was taken from the chief of
the Po family, who did not utter a murmuring word, though, to the
end of his life, he had only coarse rice to eat."
The Master said, "To be poor without murmuring is difficult. To be
rich without being proud is easy."
The Master said, "Mang Kung-ch'o is more than fit to be chief
officer in the families of Chao and Wei, but he is not fit to be great
officer to either of the states Tang or Hsieh."
Tsze-lu asked what constituted a COMPLETE man. The Master said,
"Suppose a man with the knowledge of Tsang Wu-chung, the freedom
from covetousness of Kung-ch'o, the bravery of Chwang of Pien, and the
varied talents of Zan Ch'iu; add to these the accomplishments of the
rules of propriety and music;-such a one might be reckoned a
He then added, "But what is the necessity for a complete man of
the present day to have all these things? The man, who in the view
of gain, thinks of righteousness; who in the view of danger is
prepared to give up his life; and who does not forget an old agreement
however far back it extends:-such a man may be reckoned a COMPLETE
The Master asked Kung-ming Chia about Kung-shu Wan, saying, "Is it
true that your master speaks not, laughs not, and takes not?"
Kung-ming Chia replied, "This has arisen from the reporters going
beyond the truth.-My master speaks when it is the time to speak, and
so men do not get tired of his speaking. He laughs when there is
occasion to be joyful, and so men do not get tired of his laughing. He
takes when it is consistent with righteousness to do so, and so men do
not get tired of his taking." The Master said, "So! But is it so
with him?"
The Master said, "Tsang Wu-chung, keeping possession of Fang,
asked of the duke of Lu to appoint a successor to him in his family.
Although it may be said that he was not using force with his
sovereign, I believe he was."
The Master said, "The duke Wan of Tsin was crafty and not upright.
The duke Hwan of Ch'i was upright and not crafty."
Tsze-lu said, "The Duke Hwan caused his brother Chiu to be killed,
when Shao Hu died, with his master, but Kwan Chung did not die. May
not I say that he was wanting in virtue?"
The Master said, "The Duke Hwan assembled all the princes
together, and that not with weapons of war and chariots:-it was all
through the influence of Kwan Chung. Whose beneficence was like his?
Whose beneficence was like his?"
Tsze-kung said, "Kwan Chung, I apprehend was wanting in virtue. When
the Duke Hwan caused his brother Chiu to be killed, Kwan Chung was not
able to die with him. Moreover, he became prime minister to Hwan."
The Master said, "Kwan Chung acted as prime minister to the Duke
Hwan made him leader of all the princes, and united and rectified
the whole kingdom. Down to the present day, the people enjoy the gifts
which he conferred. But for Kwan Chung, we should now be wearing our
hair unbound, and the lappets of our coats buttoning on the left side.
"Will you require from him the small fidelity of common men and
common women, who would commit suicide in a stream or ditch, no one
knowing anything about them?"
The great officer, Hsien, who had been family minister to Kung-shu
Wan, ascended to the prince's court in company with Wan.
The Master, having heard of it, said, "He deserved to be
considered WAN (the accomplished)."
The Master was speaking about the unprincipled course of the duke
Ling of Weil when Ch'i K'ang said, "Since he is of such a character,
how is it he does not lose his state?"
Confucius said, "The Chung-shu Yu has the superintendence of his
guests and of strangers; the litanist, T'o, has the management of
his ancestral temple; and Wang-sun Chia has the direction of the
army and forces:-with such officers as these, how should he lose his
The Master said, "He who speaks without modesty will find it
difficult to make his words good."
Chan Ch'ang murdered the Duke Chien of Ch'i.
Confucius bathed, went to court and informed the Duke Ai, saying,
"Chan Hang has slain his sovereign. I beg that you will undertake to
punish him."
The duke said, "Inform the chiefs of the three families of it."
Confucius retired, and said, "Following in the rear of the great
officers, I did not dare not to represent such a matter, and my prince
says, "Inform the chiefs of the three families of it."
He went to the chiefs, and informed them, but they would not act.
Confucius then said, "Following in the rear of the great officers, I
did not dare not to represent such a matter."
Tsze-lu asked how a ruler should be served. The Master said, "Do not
impose on him, and, moreover, withstand him to his face."
The Master said, "The progress of the superior man is upwards; the
progress of the mean man is downwards."
The Master said, "In ancient times, men learned with a view to their
own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of
Chu Po-yu sent a messenger with friendly inquiries to Confucius.
Confucius sat with him, and questioned him. "What," said he! "is
your master engaged in?" The messenger replied, "My master is
anxious to make his faults few, but he has not yet succeeded." He then
went out, and the Master said, "A messenger indeed! A messenger
The Master said, "He who is not in any particular office has nothing
to do with plans for the administration of its duties."
The philosopher Tsang said, "The superior man, in his thoughts, does
not go out of his place."
The Master said, "The superior man is modest in his speech, but
exceeds in his actions."
The Master said, "The way of the superior man is threefold, but I am
not equal to it. Virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free
from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.
Tsze-kung said, "Master, that is what you yourself say."
Tsze-kung was in the habit of comparing men together. The Master
said, "Tsze must have reached a high pitch of excellence! Now, I
have not leisure for this."
The Master said, "I will not be concerned at men's not knowing me; I
will be concerned at my own want of ability."
The Master said, "He who does not anticipate attempts to deceive
him, nor think beforehand of his not being believed, and yet
apprehends these things readily when they occur;-is he not a man of
superior worth?"
Wei-shang Mau said to Confucius, "Ch'iu, how is it that you keep
roosting about? Is it not that you are an insinuating talker?
Confucius said, "I do not dare to play the part of such a talker,
but I hate obstinacy."
The Master said, "A horse is called a ch'i, not because of its
strength, but because of its other good qualities."
Some one said, "What do you say concerning the principle that injury
should be recompensed with kindness?"
The Master said, "With what then will you recompense kindness?"
"Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with
The Master said, "Alas! there is no one that knows me."
Tsze-kung said, "What do you mean by thus saying-that no one knows
you?" The Master replied, "I do not murmur against Heaven. I do not
grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my penetration rises
high. But there is Heaven;-that knows me!"
The Kung-po Liao, having slandered Tsze-lu to Chi-sun, Tsze-fu
Ching-po informed Confucius of it, saying, "Our master is certainly
being led astray by the Kung-po Liao, but I have still power enough
left to cut Liao off, and expose his corpse in the market and in the
The Master said, "If my principles are to advance, it is so ordered.
If they are to fall to the ground, it is so ordered. What can the
Kung-po Liao do where such ordering is concerned?"
The Master said, "Some men of worth retire from the world. Some
retire from particular states. Some retire because of disrespectful
looks. Some retire because of contradictory language."
The Master said, "Those who have done this are seven men."
Tsze-lu happening to pass the night in Shih-man, the gatekeeper said
to him, "Whom do you come from?" Tsze-lu said, "From Mr. K'ung." "It
is he,-is it not?"-said the other, "who knows the impracticable nature
of the times and yet will be doing in them."
The Master was playing, one day, on a musical stone in Weil when a
man carrying a straw basket passed door of the house where Confucius
was, and said, "His heart is full who so beats the musical stone."
A little while after, he added, "How contemptible is the
one-ideaed obstinacy those sounds display! When one is taken no notice
of, he has simply at once to give over his wish for public employment.
'Deep water must be crossed with the clothes on; shallow water may
be crossed with the clothes held up.'"
The Master said, "How determined is he in his purpose! But this is
not difficult!"
Tsze-chang said, "What is meant when the Shu says that Kao-tsung,
while observing the usual imperial mourning, was for three years
without speaking?"
The Master said, "Why must Kao-tsung be referred to as an example of
this? The ancients all did so. When the sovereign died, the officers
all attended to their several duties, taking instructions from the
prime minister for three years."
The Master said, "When rulers love to observe the rules of
propriety, the people respond readily to the calls on them for
Tsze-lu asked what constituted the superior man. The Master said,
"The cultivation of himself in reverential carefulness." "And is
this all?" said Tsze-lu. "He cultivates himself so as to give rest
to others," was the reply. "And is this all?" again asked Tsze-lu. The
Master said, "He cultivates himself so as to give rest to all the
people. He cultivates himself so as to give rest to all the
people:-even Yao and Shun were still solicitous about this."
Yuan Zang was squatting on his heels, and so waited the approach
of the Master, who said to him, "In youth not humble as befits a
junior; in manhood, doing nothing worthy of being handed down; and
living on to old age:-this is to be a pest." With this he hit him on
the shank with his staff.
A youth of the village of Ch'ueh was employed by Confucius to
carry the messages between him and his visitors. Some one asked
about him, saying, "I suppose he has made great progress."
The Master said, "I observe that he is fond of occupying the seat of
a full-grown man; I observe that he walks shoulder to shoulder with
his elders. He is not one who is seeking to make progress in learning.
He wishes quickly to become a man."