1. Confucius, once expressing admiration for a disciple, remarked, “There is Yung—he should be made a prince.”
2. On another occasion, when that disciple asked Confucius’ opinion of a certain public character of the time, Confucius answered, “He is a good man: he is independent.’
“But,” replied the disciple, “when a man in his private life is serious with himself, he may, in his public life, be independent in dealing with the people. But to be independent with himself in his private life as well as independent in his public life, –is there not too much independence in that?” “Yes,” answered Confucius, “you are right.”
3. The reigning prince of Confucius’ native State asked him which one of his disciples he considered a man of real culture.
Confucius answered, “There was Yen Hui. He never made others suffer for his own annoyances. He never did a wrong thing twice. But unfortunately he died in the prime of his life. Now there in no one, none who can be said to be a man of real culture.”
4. On one occasion when a disciple of Confucius was sent on a public mission to a foreign State, he left his mother at home un-provided for. Another disciple them asked Confucius to provide her with grain. “Give her,” said Confucius, “so much,” naming a certain quantity. The disciple asked for more. Confucius then named a larger quantity. Finally the disciple gave her a larger quantity than the quantity which Confucius named.
When Confucius came to know of it, he remarked, “When that woman’ son left on his mission he drove in a carriage with fine horses and was clothed with costly furs. Now I believe a wise and good man reserves his charity for the really needy; he does not help the well-to-do and rich.”
5. On another occasion, when another disciple was appointed the chief magistrate of a town, Confucius appointed his salary at nine hundred measures of grain. The disciple declined it as being too much.
“Do not decline it,” said Confucius to him, “If that is more than necessary for your own wants, cannot you share what you do not want with your relatives and neighbors at home?”
6. Confucius remarked of a disciple whose father was a notoriously bad man, saying: “The calf of a brindled cow, provided it be well conditioned, although men may hesitate to use it in sacrifice, is yet not unacceptable to the Spirits of the land.”
7. Confucius remarked of his disciple, the favourite Yen Hui, saying, “For moths he could live without deviating from a pure moral life in thought as in deed. With other people, the utmost is a question of a day or a month.”
8. A minister who was in power in Confucius’ native State asked him if his disciple, the intrepid Chung Yu, could be made a minister under the government. “He is man of decision,” answered Confucius. “What is there in being a minister under the government that he should find any difficulty in it?” the minister then put the same question with regard to another disciple. “He is a man of great penetration,” answered Confucius. “What is there in being a minister that he should find any difficulty in it?”
The minister then went on to ask the same question about another disciple. “He is a man of many accomplishments,” answered Confucius. “What is there in being a minister that he should find any difficulty in it?”
9. A minister in power in Confucius’ native State sent for a disciple of Confucius to make him the chief magistrate of an important town.
“Politely decline the offer for me,” said the disciple to the messenger sent to him, “and if your master again should send for me, I shall have to leave the country altogether.”
10. On one occasion, when a disciple was sick with an infectious disease, Confucius went to see him. Confucius, however, did not enter the house, but, taking the sick man’s hands from outside the window, made him his last adieus. Confucius was then heard to say, “We shall lose him. But God’s will be done!” at the same time he went on repeating, “Ah! That such a man should die of such a sickness. Ah! That such a man should die of such a sickness!”
11. Confucius remarked of his disciple, the favorite Yen Hui, saying, “How much heroism is in that man! Living on one single meal a day, with water for his drink, and living in the lowest hovels of the city, –no man could have stood such hardships, yet he—he did not lose his cheerfulness. How much heroism is in that man!”
12. A disciple once said to Confucius, “It is not because I do not believe in your teaching, but I want the strength to carry it out into practice.”
“Those,” answered Confucius, “who only want the necessary strength, show it when they are on the way. But you stick at it from the outset altogether.”
13. Confucius said to a disciple, “Be a good and wise man while you try to be an encyclopædic man of culture; be not fool while you try to be an encyclopædic man of culture.”
14. On one occasion, when a disciple was appointed chief magistrate of an important town, Confucius said to him, “Have you succeeded in getting a good man under you?”
“Yes,” answered the disciple, “I have now a man who would never act upon expediency. He never comes to see me in my house except when there is urgent public business to be done.”
15. Confucius remarked of a chivalrous public character of the time, saying, “He was a man who never would boast. On one occasion, when the troops among whom he was, took to flight, he slowly brought up the rear; and when they had approached the city gate to which they were retreating, he whipped his horse and was the last man to enter the gate, remarking, simply, ‘It was not courage which kept me behind. But you see—my horse would not go!'”
16. Confucius, referring to two noted characters of his time, remarked, “A man who has not the wit of that person (the Sydney Smith of the time) and the fine appearance of that noble lord (the Lord Chesterfield of the time), will never get on in society now.”
17. Confucius remarked, “Who can get out of the house except through the door. How is it that men do not know that one cannot live except through the Way?”
18. Confucius remarked, “When the natural qualities of men get the better of the results of education, they are rude men. When the results of education get the better of their natural qualities, they become literati. It is only when the natural qualities and the results of education are properly blended, that we have the truly wise and good man.”
19. Confucius remarked, “Man is born to be upright; when a man ceases to be that, it is by the merest chance that he can keep himself alive.”
20. Confucius remarked, “Those who know it are not as those who love it; those who love it are not as those who find their joy in it.”
21. Confucius remarked, “You may speak of high things to those who in natural qualities of mind are above average men. You may not speak to those who in natural qualities of mind are below average men.”
22. A disciple enquired what constituted understanding.
Confucius answered, “To know the essential duties of man living in a society of men, and to hold in awe and fear the Spiritual Powers of the Universe, while keeping aloof from irreverent familiarity with them; that may be considered as understanding.”
The disciple then asked what constituted a moral life.
Confucius answered, “A man who wants to live a moral life must first be conscious within himself of a difficulty and has struggled to overcome the difficulty: that is the definition or test of a moral life.”
23. Confucius remarked, “Men of intellectual character delight in water scenery: men of moral character delight in mountain scenery. Intellectual men are active; moral men are calm. Intellectual men enjoy life; moral men live long.”
24. Confucius, referring to the state of government in his native State and that in a neighboring State, remarked, “If Ts’ i would only reform, she would have as good a government as Lu (Confucius’ native State), and if Lu would only frform she would have a perfect government.”
25. Confucius was once heard to exclaim. “A goblet that is not globular: why call it a goblet; why call it a goblet?”
26. A disciple of Confucius omce said to him, “A moral man, –if somebody told him that there was a man fallen into a well, I suppose he would immediately follow into the well?”
27. Confucius remarked, “A good man who studies extensively into the arts and literature, and directs his studies with judgment and taste, is not likely to get into a wrong track.”
28. On one occasion when Confucius allowed himself to be presented to a princess of a State who was notorious for the irregularities of her life, his disciple, the intrepid Chung Yu, was vexed.
Confucius then swore and oath, saying, “If I have had an unworthy motive in doing that, may God forsake my—my God forsake me for ever!”
29. Confucius remarked, “The use of the moral sentiment, well balanced and kept in perfect equilibrium, –that is the true state of human perfection. It is seldom found long so kept up amongst man.”
30. A disciple once said to Confucius, “If there is a man who carries out extensively good works for the welfare of the people and is really able to benefit the multitude what would you say of such a man: could he be called a moral character?”
“Why call him only a moral character,” answered Confucius, “if one must call such a man by a name, one would call him a holy or sainted mean. For, judged by the works of which you speak, even the ancient Emperors Yao and Shun felt their shortcomings.”
Confucius remarked, “A moral man in forming his character forms the character of others; in enlightening himself be enlightens others. It is a good method in attaining a moral life, if one is able to consider how one would see things and act if placed in the position of others.”