The Master said: None of the men who were with me in Ch´en or Ts´ai come any more to my door! Of noble life were Yen Yüan, Min Tzu-ch´ien, Jan Po-niu, and Chung-kung; Tsai Wo and Tzu-kung were the talkers; statesmen Jan Yu and Chi-lu. Tzu-yu and Tzu-hsia were men of culture.
When Yen Yüan died, Yen Lu4 asked for the Masters chariot to furnish an outer coffin. The Master said: Whether gifted or not, each one speaks of his son. When Li5 died he had an inner but not an outer coffin. I would not walk on foot to furnish an outer coffin. Following in the wake of the ministry, it would ill become me to walk on foot.
When Yen Yüan died the Master gave way to grief. Those with him said: Sir, ye are giving way. The Master said: Am I giving way? If for this man I did not give way to grief, for whom should I give way?
When Ye Yüan died the disciples wished to bury him in state. The Master said: This must not be. The disciples buried him in state. The Master said: Hui treated me as a father: I have failed to treat him as a son. No, not I: it was your doing, my boys.
Chi-lu6 asked what is due to the ghosts of the dead. The Master said: We fail in our duty to the living; can we do our duty to the dead? He ventured to ask about death. We know not life, said the Master, how can we know death?
Seeing the disciple Min standing at his side in winning strength, Tzu-lu with war-like front, Jan Yu and Tzu-kung fresh and rank, the Masters heart was glad. A man like Yu,7 he said, dies before his day.
The men of Lu were building the Long Treasury. Min Tzu-ch´ien said: Would not the old one do? Why must a new one be built? The Master said: That man does not talk: when he speaks, he hits the mark.
The Master said: What has the lute of Yu8 to do twanging at my door! But when the disciples began to look down on Tzu-lu, the Master said: Yu has climbed to the hall, though he has not passed the closet door.
Tzu-kung asked whether Shih9 or Shang10 were the better man. The Master said: Shih goes too far: Shang goes not far enough. Then Shih is the better man, said Tzu-kung. Too far, replied the Master, is no better than not far enough.
Tzu-lu asked: Shall I do all I am taught? The Master said: Whilst thy father and elder brothers live, how canst thou do all thou art taught? Jan Yu asked: Shall I do all I am taught? The Master said: Do all thou art taught. Kung-hsi Hua said: Yu18 asked, Shall I do all I am taught? and ye spake, Sir, of father and elder brothers. Ch´iu19 asked, Shall I do all I am taught? and ye answered, Do all thou art taught. I am puzzled, and make bold to ask you, Sir. The Master said: Ch´iu is bashful, so I egged him on: Yu has the pluck of two, so I held him back.
Chi Tzu-jan20 asked whether Chung Yu21 or Jan Ch´iu22 could be called statesmen. The Master said: I thought ye would ask me some riddle, Sir, and your text is Yu23 and Ch´iu.24 A minister who does his duty to the king, and withdraws rather than do wrong, is called a statesman. As for Yu and Ch´iu, I should call them tools. Who would do ones bidding then? Neither would they do your bidding, said the Master, if bidden slay king or father.
Tzu-lu had Tzu-kao made governor of Pi. The Master said: Thou art undoing a mans son. Tzu-lu said: What with the people and the guardian spirits must a man read books to come by knowledge? The Master said: This is why I hate a glib tongue.
The Minister said to Tzu-lu, Tseng Hsi,25 Jan Yu, and Kung-hsi Hua as they sat beside him: I may be a day older than you, but forget that. Ye are wont to say, I am unknown. Well, had ye a name, what would ye do? Tzu-lu lightly answered: Give me charge of a land of a thousand chariots, crushed between great neighbours, overrun by soldiery and searched by famine, in three years time I could put courage into the people and high purpose. The Master smiled. What wouldst thou do, Ch´iu?26 he said. He answered: Had I charge of sixty or seventy square miles, or from fifty to sixty square miles, in three years time I would give the people plenty. As for courtesy, music, and the like, they would wait the rise of a gentleman. And what wouldst thou do, Ch´ih?27 He answered: I speak of the things I fain would learn, not of what I can do. At service in the Ancestral Temple, or at the Grand Audience, clad in black robe and cap, I fain would fill a small part. And what wouldst thou do, Tien?28 Tien ceased to play, pushed his still sounding lute aside, rose and answered: My choice would be unlike those of the other three. What harm in that? said the Master. Each but spake his mind. In the last days of spring, all clad for the season, with five or six grown men and six or seven lads, I would bathe in the Yi, be fanned by the breeze in the Rain Gods glade, and wander home with song. The Master sighed and said: I hold with Tien. Tseng Hsi stayed after the other three had left, and said: What did ye think of what the others said, Sir? Each but spake his mind, said the Master. Why did ye smile at Yu,29 Sir? Lands are swayed by courtesy, but what he said was not modest. That was why I smiled. But did not Ch´iu, too, speak of a state.? Where could sixty or seventy square miles be found, or from fifty to sixty, that are not a state? And did not Ch´ih, too, speak of a state? Who but great vassals would there be in the Ancestral Temple, or at the Grand Audience? But if Ch´ih were to play a small part, who could fill a big one?
Note 7. Tzu-lu. This prophecy came true. Tzu-lu and Tzu-kao were officers of Wei when troubles arose. Tzu-lu hastened to the help of his master. He met Tzu-kao withdrawing from the danger, and was advised to follow suit. But Tzu-lu refused to desert the man whose pay he drew. He plunged into the fight and was killed. [back]