The Sayings of Confucius

by Confucius

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Chapter XIV - What Is Shame?

1. Hsien[128] asked, What is shame?

The Master said, To draw pay when the land keeps the Way and to draw pay when it has lost the Way, is shame.

2. To eschew strife and bragging, spite and greed, would that be love?

The Master said, That may be hard to do; but I do not know that it is love.

3. The Master said, A knight that is fond of ease does not amount to a knight.

4. The Master said, Whilst the land keeps the Way, be fearless of speech and fearless in deed; when the land has lost the Way, be fearless in deed but soft of speech.

5. The Master said, A man of mind can always talk, but talkers are not always men of mind. Love is always bold, though boldness is found without love.

6. Nan-kung Kuo said to Confucius, Yi[129] shot well, Ao pushed a boat over land: each died before his time. Yü and Chi toiled at their crops, and had all below heaven.

The Master did not answer. But when Nan-kung Kuo had gone, he said, What a gentleman he is! How he honours mind!


7. The Master said, Alas! there have been gentlemen without love! But there has never been a small man that was not wanting in love.

8. The Master said, Can he love thee that never tasks thee? Can he be faithful that never chides?

9. The Master said, The decrees were drafted by P'i Shen, criticised by Shih-shu, polished by the Foreign Minister Tzu-yü, and given the final touches by Tzu-ch'an of Tung-li.

10. When he was asked what he thought of Tzu-ch'an, the Master said, A kind-hearted man.

Asked what he thought of Tzu-hsi, the Master said, Of him! What I think of him!

Asked what he thought of Kuan Chung,[130] the Master said, He was the man that drove the Po from the town of Pien with its three hundred households to end his days on coarse rice, without his muttering a word.

11. The Master said, Not to grumble at being poor is hard, not to be proud of wealth is easy.

12. The Master said, Meng Kung-ch'o is more than fit to be steward of Chao or Wei, but he could not be minister of T'eng or Hsieh.

13. Tzu-lu asked what would make a full-grown man.

The Master said, The wisdom of Tsang Wu-chung, Kung-ch'o's lack of greed, Chuang of Pien's boldness and the skill of Jan Ch'iu, graced by courtesy and music, might make a full-grown man.

But now, he said, who asks the like of a full-grown [69]man? He that in sight of gain thinks of right, who when danger looms stakes his life, who, though the bond be old, does not forget what he has been saying all his life, might make a full-grown man.

14. Speaking of Kung-shu Wen, the Master said to Kung-ming Chia, Is it true that thy master does not speak, nor laugh, nor take a gift?

Kung-ming Chia answered, That is saying too much. My master only speaks when the time comes, so no one tires of his speaking; he only laughs when he is merry, so no one tires of his laughter; he only takes when it is right to take, so no one tires of his taking.

It may be so, said the Master; but is it?

15. The Master said, When he held Fang and asked Lu to appoint an heir, though Tsang Wu-chung said he was not forcing his lord, I do not believe it.

16. The Master said, Duke Wen of Chin was deep, but dishonest; Duke Huan of Ch'i was honest, but shallow.

17. Tzu-lu said, When Duke Huan slew the young duke Chiu, and Shao Hu died with him, but Kuan Chung did not, was not this want of love?[131]


The Master said, Duke Huan gathered the great vassals round him, not by chariots of war, but through the might of Kuan Chung. What can love do more? What can love do more?

18. Tzu-kung said, When Duke Huan slew the young duke Chiu, and Kuan Chung could not face death and even became his minister, surely he showed want of love?

The Master said, By Kuan Chung helping Duke Huan to put down the great vassals and make all below heaven one, men have fared the better from that day to this. But for Kuan Chung our hair would hang down our backs and our coats would button to the left; or should he, like the bumpkin and his lass, their troth to keep, have drowned in a ditch, unknown to anyone?

19. The minister Hsien, who had been steward to Kung-shu Wen, went to audience of the Duke together with Wen.

When the Master heard of it, he said, He is rightly called Wen (well-bred).

20. The Master spake of Ling Duke of Wei's contempt for the Way.

K'ang[132] said, If this be so, how does he escape ruin?

Confucius answered, With Chung-shu Yü in charge of the guests, the reader T'o in charge of the Ancestral Temple, and Wang-sun Chia in charge of the troops, how should he come to ruin?

21. The Master said, When words are unblushing, they are hard to make good.


22. Ch'en Ch'eng murdered Duke Chien.[133]

Confucius bathed, and went to court and told Duke Ai, saying, Ch'en Heng has murdered his lord: pray, punish him.

The Duke said, Tell the three chiefs.

Confucius said, As I follow in the wake of the ministers, I dared not leave this untold; but the lord says, Tell the three chiefs.

He told the three chiefs. It did no good.

Confucius said, As I follow in the wake of the ministers, I dared not leave this untold.

23. Tzu-lu asked how to serve a lord.

The Master said, Never cheat him; stand up to him.

24. The Master said, A gentleman's life leads upwards; the small man's life leads down.

25. The Master said, The men of old learned for their own sake; to-day men learn for show.

26. Ch'ü Po-yü sent a man to Confucius.

As they sat together, Confucius asked him, What does your master do?

He answered, My master wishes to make his faults fewer, but cannot.

When the messenger had left, the Master said, A messenger, a messenger indeed!

27. The Master said, When not in office discuss not policy.


28. Tseng-tzu said, Even in his thoughts, a gentleman does not outstep his place.

29. The Master said, A gentleman is shamefast of speech: his deeds go further.

30. The Master said, In the way of the gentleman there are three things that I cannot achieve. Love is never troubled; wisdom has no doubts; courage is without fear.

That is what ye say, Sir, said Tzu-kung.

31. Tzu-kung would liken this man to that.

The Master said, What talents Tz'u has! Now I have no time for this.

32. The Master said, Sorrow not at being unknown; sorrow for thine own shortcomings.

33. The Master said, Not to expect to be cheated, nor to look for falsehood, and yet to see them coming, shows worth in a man.

34. Wei-sheng Mou said to Confucius, How dost thou still find roosts to roost on, Ch'iu, unless by wagging a glib tongue?

Confucius answered, I dare not wag a glib tongue; but I hate stubbornness.

35. The Master said, A steed is not praised for his strength, but praised for his mettle.

36. One said, To mete out good for evil, how were that?

And how would ye meet good? said the Master. Meet evil with justice; meet good with good.

37. The Master said, Alas! no man knows me! Tzu-kung said, Why do ye say, Sir, that no man knows you?[73]

The Master said, Never murmuring against Heaven, nor finding fault with men; learning from the lowest, cleaving the heights. I am known but to one, but to Heaven.

38. Liao, the duke's uncle, spake ill of Tzu-lu to Chi-sun.[134]

Tzu-fu Ching-po told this to Confucius, saying, My master's mind is surely being led astray by the duke's uncle, but I have still the strength to expose his body in the market-place.

The Master said, If the Way is to be kept, that is the Bidding, and if the Way is to be lost, this is the Bidding. What can the duke's uncle do against the Bidding?

39. The Master said, Men of worth flee the world; the next best flee the land. Then come those that go at a look, then those that go at words.

40. The Master said, Seven men did so.

41. Tzu-lu spent a night at Shih-men.

The gate-keeper asked him, Whence comest thou?

From Confucius, answered Tzu-lu.

The man that knows it is no good and yet must still be doing? said the gate-keeper.

42. When the Master was chiming his sounding stones in Wei, a basket-bearer said, as he passed the door, The heart is full that chimes those stones! But then he said, For shame! What a tinkling sound! If no one knows thee, have done!

Wade the deep places, Lift thy robe through the shallows! [74]

The Master said, Where there's a will, that is nowise hard.

43. Tzu-chang said, What does the Book mean by saying that Kao-tsung[135] in his mourning shed did not speak for three years?

Why pick out Kao-tsung? said the Master. The men of old were all thus. For three years after their lord had died, the hundred officers did each his duty and hearkened to the chief minister.

44. The Master said, When those above love courtesy, the people are easy to lead.

45. Tzu-lu asked, What makes a gentleman?

The Master said, To be bent on becoming better.

Is that all? said Tzu-lu.

By becoming better to bring peace to men.

And is that all?

By becoming better to bring peace to all men, said the Master. Even Yao and Shun were still struggling to become better, and so bring peace to all men.

46. Yüan Jang awaited the Master squatting.

Unruly when young, unmentioned as man, undying when old, spells good-for-nothing! said the Master, and he hit him on the leg with his staff.

47. When a lad from the village of Ch'üeh was made messenger, someone asked, saying, Is it because he is doing well?

The Master said, I have seen him sitting in a man's seat, and seen him walking abreast of his elders. He does not try to do well: he wishes to be quickly grown up.


[128] The disciple Yüan Ssu.

[129] Yi was killed by his best pupil, who said to himself, In all the world no one but Yi shoots better than I do. So he killed him.

[130] See note to Book III, § 22.

[131] Chiu and Huan were brothers, sons of the Duke of Ch'i. When their father died, their uncle seized the throne. To preserve the rightful heir, Shao Hu and Kuan Chung fled with Chiu to Lu, whilst Huan escaped to another state. Later on the usurper was murdered, and Huan returned to Ch'i and secured the throne. He then required the Duke of Lu to kill his brother and deliver up to him Shao Hu and Kuan Chung. This was done. But on the way to Ch'i Shao Hu killed himself. Kuan Chung, on the other hand, took service under Duke Huan, became his chief minister, and raised the state to greatness. (See note to Book III, § 22.)

[132] Chi K'ang.

[133] 481 b.c., two years before the death of Confucius, who was not at the time in office. Chien was Duke of Ch'i, a state bordering on Lu. The three chiefs were the heads of the three great clans that were all-powerful in Lu.

[134] The head of the Chi clan, in whose service Tzu-lu was.

[135] An emperor of the Yin dynasty.


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