1. The head of a powerful family of nobles in Confucius’ native State employed eight sets of choristers [an Imperial prerogative] in their family chapel. Confucius, remarking on this, was heard to say, “If this is allowed to pass, what may not be allowed?”
2. The members of the same powerful family mentioned above concluded the service in their chapel by chanting the hymn used only on occasions of Imperial worship. Confucius remarked on it, saying; “The words of the hymn begin—
‘Surrounded by his nobles and princes,
August the Son of Heaven looks;’
Now what is there in the chapel of this noble family to which those words of the hymn can be applied?”
3. Confucius remarked, “If a man is without moral character, what good can the use of the fine arts do him? If a man is without moral character, what good can the use of music do him?”
4. A disciple asked what constituted the fundamental principle of art.
“That is a very great question.” replied Confucius, “but in the art used in social usages it is better to be simple than to be expensive; in rituals for the dead, it is better that there should be heartfelt grief than minute attention to observances.”
5. Confucius remarked, “The heathen hordes of the North and East, even, acknowledge the authority of their chiefs, whereas now in China respect for authority no longer exists anywhere.”
6. The head of the powerful family of nobles mentioned in section 1 of this chapter was going to offer sacrifice on the top of the Great T’ai Mountain [an Imperial prerogative]. Confucius then said to a disciple who was in the service of the noble, “Can you not do anything to save him from this?” “No,” replied the disciple, “I cannot.” “Ah, then,” answered Confucius, “it is useless to say anything more. But, really, do you think that the Spirit of the Great Mountain is not as Lin-fang?”
7. Confucius remarked, “A gentleman never competes in anything he wins he courteously makes his bow before he advances to take his place among the winners; and, when he has lost he walks down and drinks his cup of forfeit. Thus, even in this case of competition, he shows himself to be a gentleman.”
8. A disciple asked Confucius for the meaning of the following verse:
Her coquettish smiles,
How dimpling they are;
Her beautiful eyes,
How beaming they are;
O fairest is she
Who is simple and plain.
“In painting,” answered Confucius, “ornamentation and colour are of secondary importance compared with the groundwork.”
“Then art itself,” said the disciple, “is a matter of ‘secondary’ consideration?”
“My friend,” replied Confucius, “You have given me an idea. Now I can talk of poetry with you.”
9. Confucius remarked to a disciple, “I can tell you of the sate of the arts and civilization during the Hsia dynasty [say the Greek civilisation]; but the modern State of Ts’ I [say modern Greece] cannot furnish sufficient evidence to prove what I say. I can tell you of the state of the arts and civilization during the Yin dynasty [say Roman civilisation]; but the modern state of Sung [say Italy] cannot furnish sufficient evidence to prove what I say. The reason is because the literary monuments extant are too meagre, –otherwise I could prove to you what I say.”
10. Confucius remarked, “At the service of the great Ti sacrifice [the ‘Mass’ in ancient China], I always make it a point to leave as soon as the poruing of the libation on the ground is over.”
11. Somebody asked Confucius for the meaning of the great Ti sacrifice mentioned above.
“I do not know,” answered Confucius. “One who understands its significance will find it as easy to rule the world as to look at this—thus:” pointing to the palm of his hand.
12. Confucius worshipped the dead as if he actually felt the presence of the departed ones. He worshipped the Spiritual Powers as if he actually felt the presence of the Powers.
He once remarked, “If I cannot give up heart and soul when I am worshipping, I always consider s if I have not worshipped.”
13. An officer in a certain State asked Confucius, saying, “What is meant by the common saying ‘It is better to pray to the God of the Hearth than to the God of the House?'”
“Not so,” replied Confucius, “a man who has sinned against God, –it is useless for him to pray anywhere at all.”
14. Confucius remarked, “The civilization of the present Chou dynasty is founded on the civilization of the two preceding dynasties. How splendidly rich it is in all the arts! I prefer the present Chou civilization.”
15.When Confucius first attended the service at the Sate Cathedral (Ancestral Temple of the reigning prince), he enquired as to what he should do at every stage of the service. Somebody thereupon remarked, “Who tells me that the son of the plebeian of Ts’ow is a man who knows the correct forms?”
When Confucius heard of the remark, he said, “That is the correct form.”
16. Confucius remarked, “In archery, putting the arrow through the target should not count as points, because the competitors cannot all be expected to be equal in mere physical strength. At least, that was the old rule.”
17. A disciple wanted to dispense with the sheep offered in sacrifice in the religious ceremony held at the beginning of every month.
“What you would save,” said Confucius to him, “is the cost of the sheep; what I would save is the principle of the rite.”
18. Confucius remarked, “Men now account it servile to pay to their prince all the honours due to him.”
19. The reigning prince of Confucius’ native State asked Confucius how a prince should treat his public servant and how a public servant should behave to his prince.
“Let the prince,” answered Confucius, “treat his public servant with honour. The public servant must serve the prince, his master, with loyalty.”
20. Confucius remarked, “The first ballad in the Book of Ballads and Songs expresses the emotions of love. It is passionate, but not sensual; it is melancholy, but not morbid.”
21. The reigning prince of Confucius’ native State asked a disciple of Confucius about the emblems used on the altars to the Titular Genius of the land.
The disciple answered, “The sovereigns of the House of Hsia planted the pine tree; the people of the Yin dynasty adopted the cypress; and the people of the present Chou dynasty has chosen the li (chestnut) tree as a symbol of awe (li) to the population.”
When Confucius afterwards heard of what the disciple said, he remarked, “It is useless to speak of a thing that is done; to change a course that is begun; or to blame what is past and gone.”
22. Confucius, speaking of a famous statesman (the Bismarck of the time), remarked, “Kuan Chung was by no means a great-minded man!”
“But,” said somebody, “Kuan Chung was simple in his life: was he not?”
“Why,” replied Confucius, “Kuan Chung had that magnificent Sansouci Pleasaunce of his. Besides, he had a special officer appointed to every function in his household. How can one say that he was simple in his life?”
“Well,” rejoined the enquirer, “but still, Kuan Chung was a man of taste who observed the correct forms; was he not?”
“No,” answered Confucius, “The reigning princes have walls built before their palace gates. Kuan Chung also had a wall built before his door. When two reigning princes meet, each has a special buffet. Kuan Chung also had his special buffet. If you say Kuan Chung was a man of taste, who is not a man of taste?”
23. Confucius remarked to the Grand Kapel Meister of his native State, “I think I know the way in which a piece should be played with a full orchestra. At first, the full volume of sound in the piece should be heard. Then, as you proceed, you must pay attention to and bring out each note of the piece, distinct and clear, but flowing, as it were, without break or interval, –thus to the end.”
An officer in command of a certain Pass on the frontier where Confucius on his travels was passing, asked for the permission to be presented to him, saying, “Whenever a wise man passes this way, I have always had the honour to wait upon him.”
24. When the officer came out of the interview he said to the disciples, “Gentlemen, why should you be concerned at your present want of official position! The world has long been without the order and justice of good government; now God is going to make use of your Teacher as a tocsin to awaken the world.”
25. Confucius, speaking of a famous piece of music (the most ancient then known in China), remarked, “It has all the excellence of the physical beauty of harmony; but it has not all the excellence of moral grandeur.”
26. Confucius remarked, “Possession of power without generosity; courtesy without seriousness; mourning without grief, –I have no desire to look at such a state of things.”