Book XI: Hsien Tsin

Chapter 1


Confucius’s preference of the simpler ways of former times.
1. The Master said, “The men of former times in the matters of ceremonies and music were rustics, it is said, while the men of these latter times, in ceremonies and music, are accomplished gentlemen.

2. “If I have occasion to use those things, I follow the men of former times.”

Chapter 2


Confucius’s regretful memory of his disciples’ fidelity:– characteristics of ten of the disciples.
1. The Master said, “Of those who were with me in Ch’an and Ts’âi, there are none to be found to enter my door.”

2. Distinguished for their virtuous principles and practice, there were Yen Yûan, Min Tsze-ch’ien, Zan Po-niû, and Chung-kung; for their ability in speech, Tsâi Wo and Tsze-kung; for their administrative talents, Zan Yû and Chî Lû; for their literary acquirements, Tsze-yû and Tsze-hsiâ.

Chapter 3


Hûi’s silent reception of the Master’s teachings.
The Master said, “Hûi gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight.”

Chapter 4


The filial piety of Min Tsze-ch’ien.
The Master said, “Filial indeed is Min Tsze-ch’ien! Other people say nothing of him different from the report of his parents and brothers.”

Chapter 5


Confucius’s approbation of Nan Yung.
Nan Yung was frequently repeating the lines about a white scepter stone. Confucius gave him the daughter of his elder brother to wife.

Chapter 6



How Hûi loved to learn.
Chî K’ang asked which of the disciples loved to learn. Confucius replied to him, “There was Yen Hûi; he loved to learn. Unfortunately his appointed time was short, and he died. Now there is no one who loves to learn, as he did.”

Chapter 7



How Confucius would not sell his carriage to buy a shell for Yen Yüan.
When Yen Yüan died, Yen Lû begged the carriage of the Master to sell and get an outer shell for his son’s coffin.

The Master said, “Every one calls his son his son, whether he has talents or has not talents. There was Lî; when he died, he had a coffin but no outer shell. I would not walk on foot to get a shell for him, because, having followed in the rear of the great officers, it was not proper that I should walk on foot.”

Chapter 8



Confucius felt Hûi’s death as if it had been his own.
When Yen Yüan died, the Master said, “Alas! Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me!”

Chapter 9




Confucius vindicates his great grief for the death of Hûi.
1. When Yen Yüan died, the Master bewailed him exceedingly, and the disciples who were with him said, “Master, your grief is excessive!”

2. “Is it excessive?” said he.

3. “If I am not to mourn bitterly for this man, for whom should I mourn?”

Chapter 10





Confucius’s dissatisfaction with the grand way in which Hûi was buried.
1. When Yen Yüan died, the disciples wished to give him a great funeral, and the Master said, “You may not do so.”

2. The disciples did bury him in great style.

3. The Master said, “Hûi behaved towards me as his father. I have not been able to treat him as my son. The fault is not mine; it belongs to you, O disciples.”

Chapter 11





Confucius avoids answering questions about serving spirits, and about death.
Chî Lû asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, “While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Chî Lû added, “I venture to ask about death?” He was answered, “While you do not know life, how can you know about death?”

Chapter 12



Confucius happy with his disciples about him.
1. The disciple Min was standing by his side, looking bland and precise; Tsze-lû, looking bold and soldierly; Zan Yû and Tsze-kung, with a free and straightforward manner. The Master was pleased.

2. He said, “Yû there! — he will not die a natural death.”

Chapter 13




Wise advice of Min Sun against useless expenditure.
1. Some parties in Lû were going to take down and rebuild the Long Treasury.

2. Min Tsze-ch’ien said, “Suppose it were to be repaired after its old style;– why must it be altered and made anew?”

3. The Master said, “This man seldom speaks; when he does, he is sure to hit the point.”

Chapter 14




Confucius’s admonition and defence of Tsze-lû.
1. The Master said, “What has the lute of Yû to do in my door?”

2. The other disciples began not to respect Tsze-lû. The Master said, “Yû has ascended to the hall, though he has not yet passed into the inner apartments.”

Chapter 15





Comparison of Shih and Shang. Excess and defect equally wrong.
1. Tsze-kung asked which of the two, Shih or Shang, was the superior. The Master said, “Shih goes beyond the due mean, and Shang does not come up to it.”

2. “Then,” said Tsze-kung, “the superiority is with Shih, I suppose.”

3. The Master said, “To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.”

Chapter 16



Confucius’s indignation at the support of usurpation and extortion by one of his disciples.
1. The head of the Chî family was richer than the duke of Châu had been, and yet Ch’iû collected his imposts for him, and increased his wealth.

2. The Master said, “He is no disciple of mine. My little children, beat the drum and assail him.”

Chapter 17


Characters of the four disciples — Ch’âi, Shan, Shih, and Yû.
1. Ch’âi is simple.

2. Shan is dull.

3. Shih is specious.

4. Yû is coarse.

Chapter 18


Hûi and Ts’ze contrasted.
1. The Master said, “There is Hûi! He has nearly attained to perfect virtue. He is often in want.

2. “Ts’ze does not acquiesce in the appointments of Heaven, and his goods are increased by him. Yet his judgments are often correct.”

Chapter 19



The good man.
Tsze-chang asked what were the characteristics of the good man. The Master said, “He does not tread in the footsteps of others, but moreover, he does not enter the chamber of the sage.”

Chapter 20


We may not hastily judge a man to be good from his discourse.
The Master said, “If, because a man’s discourse appears solid and sincere, we allow him to be a good man, is he really a superior man? or is his gravity only in appearance?”

Chapter 21







An instance in Tsze-lû and Zan Yû of how Confucius dealt with his disciples according to their characters.
Tsze-lû asked whether he should immediately carry into practice what he heard. The Master said, “There are your father and elder brothers to be consulted;– why should you act on that principle of immediately carrying into practice what you hear?” Zan Yû asked the same, whether he should immediately carry into practice what he heard, and the Master answered, “Immediately carry into practice what you hear.” Kung-hsî Hwâ said, “Yû asked whether he should carry immediately into practice what he heard, and you said, ‘There are your father and elder brothers to be consulted.’ Ch’iû asked whether he should immediately carry into practice what he heard, and you said, ‘Carry it immediately into practice.’ I, Ch’ih, am perplexed, and venture to ask you for an explanation.” The Master said, “Ch’iû is retiring and slow; therefore I urged him forward. Yû has more than his own share of energy; therefore I kept him back.”

Chapter 22




Yen Yûan’s attachment to Confucius, and confidence in his mission.
The Master was put in fear in K’wang and Yen Yûan fell behind. The Master, on his rejoining him, said, “I thought you had died.” Hûi replied, “While you were alive, how should I presume to die?”

Chapter 23





A great minister. Chung-yû and Zan Ch’iû only ordinary ministers.
1. Chî Tsze-zan asked whether Chung Yû and Zan Ch’iû could be called great ministers.

2. The Master said, “I thought you would ask about some extraordinary individuals, and you only ask about Yû and Ch’iû!

3. “What is called a great minister, is one who serves his prince according to what is right, and when he finds he cannot do so, retires.

4. “Now, as to Yû and Ch’iû, they may be called ordinary ministers.”

5. Tsze-zan said, “Then they will always follow their chief;– will they?”

6. The Master said, “In an act of parricide or regicide, they would not follow him.”

Chapter 24





How preliminary study is necessary to the exercise of government:– a reproof of Tsze-lû.
1. Tsze-lû got Tsze-kâo appointed governor of Pî.

2. The Master said, “You are injuring a man’s son.”

3. Tsze-lû said, “There are (there) common people and officers; there are the altars of the spirits of the land and grain. Why must one read books before he can be considered to have learned?”

4. The Master said, “It is on this account that I hate your glib-tongued people.”

Chapter 25






















The aims of Tsze-lû, Tsang Hsî, Zan Yû, and Kung-hsû Hwâ, and Confucius’s remarks about them.
1. Tsze-lû, Tsang Hsî, Zan Yû, and Kung-hsû Hwâ were sitting by the Master.

2. He said to them, “Though I am a day or so older than you, do not think of that.

3. “From day to day you are saying, ‘We are not known.’ If some ruler were to know you, what would you like to do?”

4. Tsze-lû hastily and lightly replied, “Suppose the case of a state of ten thousand chariots; let it be straitened between other large states; let it be suffering from invading armies; and to this let there be added a famine in corn and in all vegetables:– if I were intrusted with the government of it, in three years’ time I could make the people to be bold, and to recognize the rules of righteous conduct.” The Master smiled at him.

5. Turning to Yen Yû, he said, “Ch’iû, what are your wishes?” Ch’iû replied, “Suppose a state of sixty or seventy lî square, or one of fifty or sixty, and let me have the government of it;– in three years’ time, I could make plenty to abound among the people. As to teaching them the principles of propriety, and music, I must wait for the rise of a superior man to do that.”

6. “What are your wishes, Ch’ih,” said the Master next to Kung-hsî Hwâ. Ch’ih replied, “I do not say that my ability extends to these things, but I should wish to learn them. At the services of the ancestral temple, and at the audiences of the princes with the sovereign, I should like, dressed in the dark square-made robe and the black linen cap, to act as a small assistant.”

7. Last of all, the Master asked Tsang Hsî, “Tien, what are your wishes?” Tien, pausing as he was playing on his lute, while it was yet twanging, laid the instrument aside, and “My wishes,” he said, “are different from the cherished purposes of these three gentlemen.” “What harm is there in that?” said the Master; “do you also, as well as they, speak out your wishes.” Tien then said, “In this, the last month of spring, with the dress of the season all complete, along with five or six young men who have assumed the cap, and six or seven boys, I would wash in the Î, enjoy the breeze among the rain altars, and return home singing.” The Master heaved a sigh and said, “I give my approval to Tien.”

8. The three others having gone out, Tsang Hsî remained behind, and said, “What do you think of the words of these three friends?” The Master replied, “They simply told each one his wishes.”

9. Hsî pursued, “Master, why did you smile at Yû?”

10. He was answered, “The management of a state demands the rules of propriety. His words were not humble; therefore I smiled at him.”

11. Hsi again said, “But was it not a state which Ch’iû proposed for himself?” The reply was, “Yes; did you ever see a territory of sixty or seventy lî or one of fifty or sixty, which was not a state?”

12. Once more, Hsî inquired, “And was it not a state which Ch’ih proposed for himself?” The Master again replied, “Yes; who but princes have to do with ancestral temples, and with audiences but the sovereign? If Ch’ih were to be a small assistant in these services, who could be a great one?


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