The Sayings of Confucius

by Confucius

Previous Chapter

Chapter XX - Five Fair Things

1. Yao said, Hail to thee, Shun! The count that Heaven is telling falls on thee. Keep true hold of the centre. If there be stress or want within the four seas, the gift of Heaven will pass for ever.

Shun laid the same commands on Yü.

T'ang said, I, Thy little child Li, dare to offer this black steer, and dare to proclaim before Thee, Almighty Lord, that I dare not forgive sin, nor keep down Thy ministers. Search them, O Lord, in Thine heart. If Our life be sinful, visit it not upon the ten thousand homesteads. If the ten thousand homesteads sin, the sin is on Our head.

Chou bestowed great gifts, and good men grew rich.

'Loving hearts are better than near kinsmen. All the people blame no one but me.'[185]

He saw to weights and measures, revised the laws, and brought back broken officers. Order reigned everywhere. He revived ruined kingdoms and restored fiefs that had fallen in. All hearts below heaven turned to him. The people's food, burials and worship weighed most with him. His bounty gained the many, his truth won the people's trust, his earnestness brought success, his justice made men glad.


2. Tzu-chang asked Confucius, How should men be governed?

The Master said, To govern men we must honour five fair things and spurn four evil things.

Tzu-chang said, What are the five fair things?

The Master said, A gentleman is kind, but not wasteful; he burdens, but he does not embitter; he is covetous, but not greedy; high-minded, but not proud; stern, but not fierce.

Tzu-chang said, What is meant by kindness without waste?

The Master said, To further what furthers the people, is not that kindness without waste? If burdens be sorted to strength, who will grumble? To covet love and get love, is that greed? Few or many, small or great, all is one to a gentleman: he dares not slight any man. Is not this to be high-minded, but not proud? A gentleman straightens his robe and cap, and settles his look. He is severe, and men look up to him with awe. Is not this to be stern, but not fierce?

Tzu-chang said, What are the four evil things?

The Master said, To leave untaught and then kill is cruelty; not to give warning and to expect things to be done is tyranny; to give careless orders and be strict when the day comes is robbery; to be stingy in rewarding men is littleness.

3. The Master said, He that does not know the Bidding cannot be a gentleman. Not to know good form is to have no foothold. Not to know words is to know nothing of men.


[184] This chapter shows the principles on which China was governed in old times. Yao and Shun were the legendary founders of the Chinese Empire, Yü, T'ang, and Chou were the first emperors of the houses of Hsia, Shang and Chou, which had ruled China up till the time of Confucius.

[185] Said by King Wu (Chou). The people blamed him for not dethroning at once the tyrant Chou Hsin.


Previous Chapter      

Return to the The Sayings of Confucius Summary Return to the Confucius Library

© 2022