The Sayings of Confucius

by Confucius

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Chapter XVIII - The Straight Way, Not Crooked

1. The lord of Wei[162] left, the lord of Chi[163] was made a slave, Pi-kan[164] spake out, and died.

Confucius said, Three of the Yin had love.

2. Whilst Liu-hsia Hui[165] was Chief Knight[166] he was dismissed thrice.

Men said. Is it not yet time to leave. Sir?

He answered, If I serve men the straight way, where can I go without being dismissed thrice? If I am to serve men the crooked way, why should I leave the land of my father and mother?

3. Speaking of how to treat Confucius, Ching, Duke of Ch'i, said, I cannot treat him as I do the Chi. I put him between Chi and Meng.

I am old, he said; I cannot use him.

Confucius left.

4. The men of Ch'i[167] sent a gift of music girls. Chi Huan accepted them, and for three days no court was held.

Confucius left.


5. Chieh-yü, the mad-head of Ch'u, as he passed Confucius, sang,

Phoenix, bright phoenix,
Thy glory is ended!
Think of to-morrow;
The past can't be mended.
Up and away!
The Court is today
With danger attended.

Confucius alighted, for he wished to speak with him: but he hurried away, and he could not speak with him.

6. Ch'ang-chü and Chieh-ni were working in the fields. As Confucius passed them, he sent Tzu-lu to ask for the ford.

Ch'ang-chü said, Who is that holding the reins?

He is K'ung Ch'iu, said Tzu-lu.

Is he K'ung Ch'iu of Lu?

Yes, said Tzu-lu.

He knows the ford, said Ch'ang-chü.

Tzu-lu asked Chieh-ni.

Who are ye, Sir? he answered.

I am Chung Yu.

The disciple of K'ung Ch'iu of Lu?

Yes, he answered.

All below heaven is seething and boiling, said Chieh-ni, who can change it? How much better would it be to follow a knight that flees the world than to follow a knight that flees persons!

And he went on hoeing without stop.

Tzu-lu went and told the Master, whose face fell.

Can I herd with birds and beasts? he said. Whom[94] but these men can I take as fellows? And if the Way were kept by all below heaven, I should not need to change them.

7. Tzu-lu, who was following behind, met an old man carrying a basket on his staff.

Tzu-lu asked him, Have ye seen the Master, Sir?

The old man answered, Thy four limbs are idle, thou canst not sort the five seeds: who is thy Master?

And he planted his staff, and weeded.

Tzu-lu stood and bowed.

He kept Tzu-lu for the night, killed a fowl, made millet, gave them him to eat, and presented his two sons.

Tzu-lu left the next day, and told the Master.

The Master said, He is in hiding.

He sent Tzu-lu back to see him; but when he arrived he had gone.

Tzu-lu said, Not to take office is not right. If the ties of old and young cannot be thrown off, how can he throw off the liege's duty to his lord? He wishes to keep his life clean, but he is unsettling the bonds between men. To discharge that duty a gentleman takes office, though he knows beforehand that the Way will not be kept.

8. Po-yi, Shu-ch'i, Yü-chung, Yi-yi, Chu-chang, Liu-hsia Hui and Shao-lien were men that hid from the world.

The Master said, Po-yi[168] and Shu-ch'i[169] did not bend the will or shame the body.


We must say that Liu-hsia Hui[170] and Shao-lien bent the will and shamed the body. Their words hit man's duty, their deeds hit our hopes. This we can say and no more.

We may say that Yü-chung and Yi-yi lived hidden, but were free of speech. Their lives were clean, their retreat was well weighed.

But I am unlike all of them: there is nothing I must, or must not, do.

9. Chih, the Great Music-master, went to Ch'i; Kan, the conductor at the second meal, went to Ch'u; Liao, the conductor at the third meal, went to Ts'ai; Chüeh, the conductor at the fourth meal, went to Ch'in. The drum master Fang-shu crossed the River; the tambourine master Wu crossed the Han; Yang the second bandmaster and Hsiang, who played the sounding stones, crossed the sea.

10. The Duke of Chou[171] said to the Duke of Lu,[172] A gentleman does not forsake kinsmen, nor offend his great lieges by not using them. He will not cast off an old friend unless he have big cause; he does not ask everything of anyone.

11. Chou had eight knights: Po-ta and Po-kuo, Chung-tu and Chung-hu, Shu-yeh and Shu-hsia, Chi-sui and Chi-kua.


[162] Kinsmen of the tyrant Chou Hsin, who brought the house of Yin to an end.

[163] Kinsmen of the tyrant Chou Hsin, who brought the house of Yin to an end.

[164] Kinsmen of the tyrant Chou Hsin, who brought the house of Yin to an end.

[165] See note to Book XV, § 13.

[166] Or Criminal Judge.

[167] To Lu, 497 b.c. The turning-point in Confucius's career. He left office and his native land, and wandered abroad for twelve long years.

[168] See note to Book V, § 22.

[169] See note to Book V, § 22.

[170] See note to Book XV, § 13.

[171] See note to Book VII, § 5.

[172] His son.


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