Translated by Gu Hongming
Confucius remarked of a disciple, saying, “No man need hesitate to give his daughter to such a man to wife. It is true he has been in prison, but it was through no crime of his.” Confucius accordingly gave him his own daughter to wife.
Confucius remarked of another disciple, saying, “When there is order and justice in the government of the country, he will not be neglected. But should there be no order and justice in the government of the country, he will escape persecution.” Confucius accordingly gave his niece to him to wife.
Confucius then went on to remark of another disciple, saying, “What a wise and good man he is! I wonder if there were no wise and good men in the country, how that man could have acquired the character he has.”
Another disciple who heard the above remarks said then to Confucius, “And I, what do you say of me? ” “You are, ” answered Confucius, “a work of art.”“What work of art? ” asked the other. “A rich jewelled work of art.” was the reply.
Somebody remarked of a disciple of Confucius, saying, “He is a good moral man, but he is not a man of ready wit.”When Confucius heard the remark, he said, “What is the good of a ready wit? A man who is always ready with his tongue to others will only often make enemies. I do not know if he is a moral man, but I do not see the good of having a ready wit.”
Confucius on one occasion wanted a disciple to enter public life.“No, ”answered the disciple, “I have not yet confidence in myself.”ThereuponConfucius commended him.
Confucius on one occasion remarked, “There is no order and justice now in the government in China. I will betake me to a ship and sail over the sea to seek for it in other countries. If I take anybody with me, I will take Yu.”referring to a disciple.
The disciple referred to, when he heard of what Confucius said, was glad, and offered to go.
“My friend, ” said Confucius then to him, “You have certainly more courage than I have; only you do not exercise judgment when using it.”
A member of a powerful family of nobles in Confucius' native State askedConfucius if his disciple, the above mentioned Chung Yu, was a moral character. “I cannot say, ” answered Confucius. But on being pressed,Confucius said, “In the government of a State of even the first-rate power the man could be entrusted with the organisation of the army. I cannot say if he could be called a moral character.”
The noble then put the same question with regard to another disciple.Confucius answered, “In the government of a large town or in the direction of affairs in a small principality, the man could be entrusted with the chief authority. I cannot say if he could be called a moral character.”
The noble went on to put the same question with regard to another disciple.Confucius answered, “At court, in a galadress reception, he could been trusted with the duty of entertaining the visitors. I cannot say if he could be called a moral character.”
Confucius once said to a disciple, “You and Hui（the favourite Yen Hui）,who is the abler man? The disciple answered, “How should I dare compare myself with him. When he has learnt one thing he immediately understand sits application to all cases; whereas I, when I have learnt one thing I can only follow out its hearing and applications to one or two particular cases.”
A disciple of Confucius spent the best hours of the day in sleep, Confucius ,remarking on it, said: “You cannot carve any thing out of rotten wood nor plaster up wall built up of rubbish, what is the use of rebuke in such a case?”
Confucius then went on to say, “At one time, when I wanted to judge of a man, I listened to what he said, and I knew for certain what he would do in his life. But now, when I want to judge of a man, I have to look at what he does in his life as well as listen to what he says. It is, perhaps, men like this young man who have made me change my method of judging men.”
Confucius once remarked, “I do not now see a man of strong character.”“There is So-and-so, ” said somebody. “No, ” replied Confucius, “he is a man of strong passions; he is not a man of strong character.”
A disciple said to Confucius, “What I do not wish that others should not do unto me, I also do not wish that I should do unto them.” “My friend, ”answered Confucius, “You have not yet attained to that.”
A disciple of Confucius remarked, “You will often hear the master speak on the subjects of art and literature, but you will never hear him speak on the subjects of metaphysics or theology.”
When Confucius' disciple, the intrepid Chung Yu, had learnt anything which he was not yet able to carry out into practice, he was afraid to learn anything new.
A disciple, speaking of an ancient worthy of the time, enquired of Confucius saying, “How was it that he had the title of ‘Beau-clerc' added as an honour to his name after his death? ”
“He was, ” answered Confucius, “a man of great industry, who applied himself to self culture; he was not ashamed to seek for information from others more ignorant than himself. For that reason he has had the title of ‘Beau-clerc' added as an honour to his name after his death.
Confucius remarked of a famous statesman（the Colbert of the time）,saying, “He showed himself to be a good and wise man in four ways. In his conduct of himself he was earnest, and in serving the interests of his prince he was serious. In providing for the wants of the people, he was generous, and in dealing with them he was just.”
Confucius remarked of another famous statesman（the Sir William Temple of the time）, saying, “He knew how to observe the true relations in friendship.However long-standing his acquaintance with a man might be, be always maintained throughout the same invariable careful respect.”
Confucius remarked of an eccentric character of the time, saying,“The man actually built a chapel elaborate with carvings for a large tortoise which he kept.What can one say of the intellect of a man like that? ”
A disciple of Confucius asked him to give his opinion of a public character of the time, saying, “In his public life three times he was made Prime Minister, and yet on none of these occasions did he show the least signs of elation.Three times he was dismissed from office, and also on none of these occasions did he show the least signs of disappointment. He was careful every time, when giving up office, to explain to his successor the line of policy which the Government under him hitherto had been pursuing.”
“Now, ” asked the disciple, “what do you think of him? ”
“He was, ” answered Confucius, “a conscientious man.”
“But, ” asked the disciple, “could he be called a moral character? ”“l can not say, ” replied Confucius, “if he could be called a moral character.”
The disciple then went on to ask about another public character, saying,“When the Prime Minister in his native State murdered the prince, his master, that worthy had large possessions in the country, but he threw them all away and quitted the country. Arriving at another State, he remarked, ‘I see here they are all patricides, the same as our patricide minister at home; 'and immediately again quitted that country. Thus he went on from one State to another, making the same observation. Now, what do you think of this man?”
“He was, ” replied Confucius, “a pure, high-minded man.” “But, ”asked the disciple, “could he he called a moral character? ” “I can not say, ”answeredConfucius, “if he could be called a moral character.”
It was remarked of a public character of the time that he always reflected three times over every time before he acted. When Confucius heard of the remark, he observed, “Think twice——that is sufficient.”
Confucius remarked of a public character of the time, saying, “He was a man who, when there was order and justice in the government of the country, acted as a man of great understanding. But when there was no order and justice in the government of the country, he acted as if he was a man of no understanding. It is easy to act like him as a man of understanding, but it is not easy to imitate him in the way he showed how to act as a man of no understanding.”
When Confucius in the last days of his travels abroad was in a certain State he was heard to say, ” I must think of going home. I must really think of going home. My young people at home are all high-spirited and independent; they are, besides, accomplished in all the arts; but they have no judgment.”
Confucius, remarking of two ancient worthies, famous for the purity and saintliness of their lives and character, said, “They forgave old wrongs, therefore they had little to complain of the world.”
Confucius remarked of a character of the time, “Who says that the man is an honest man? When somebody begged him for some household necessary, he went and begged of his neighbours for it and gave it as his own.”
Confucius remarked, “Plausible speech, fine manners and studied earnestness are things of which a friend of mine was ashamed; I am also ashamed of such things. To conceal resentment against a person and to make friends with him: that is also something of which my same friend was ashamed; l am also ashamed to do such a thing.”
On one occasion, when two of his disciples, the favourite Yen Hui and ChungYu the intrepid, were in attendance on him, Confucius said to them, “Now tell me, each of you, your aim in the conduct of life.”
“I would like, ” answered the intrepid Chung Yu, “If I had carriages and horses and clothings of costly furs, to share them with my friends, to be able to consider such things as much belonging to them as belonging to me.”
“And I, ” answered the favourite Yen Hui, “I would like to be able not to boast of my ability and to be able to be humble in my estimate of what I have done for others.”
“Now, ” said the intrepid Chung Yu then to Confucius, “We would like to hear your aim, sir, in the conduct of life.”
“My aim, ” replied Confucius, “would be to be a comfort to my old folk at home, to be sincere, and to be found trustworthy by my friends; and to love and care for my young people at home.”
Confucius was once heard to say, “Alas! I do not see now a man who can see his own failing or is willing to bring a suit against himself before his own conscience.”
Confucius once remarked, “Even in a very small town there must be men who are as conscientious and honest as myself, only they have not tried to cultivate themselves as I have done.”