A man from the Ta-hsiang village said: The great Confucius, with his vast learning, has made no name in anything. When the Master heard it, he said to his disciples: What shall I take up? Shall I take up charioteering? Shall I take up bowmanship? I must take up charioteering.
The Master said: A linen cap is correct: to-day silk is worn. It is cheap, and I follow the many. To bow below is correct: to-day it is done above. This is overweening, and, despite the many, I bow below.
When the Master was affrighted in K´uang,1 he said: Since the death of King Wen, is not this the home of culture? Had Heaven condemned culture, later mortals had missed their share in it. If Heaven uphold culture, what can the men of K´uang do to me?
A high minister said to Tzu-kung: The Master must be a holy man, he can do so many things! Tzu-kung said: Heaven has indeed well-nigh endowed him with holiness, and he is many-sided too. When the Master heard it, he said: Does the minister know me? Being lowly born, I learned many an humble trade in my youth. But has a gentleman skill in many things? No, in few things. Lao said that the Master would say: Having no post, I learned a craft.
Yen Yüan heaved a sigh and said: As I gaze it grows higher, more remote as I dig! I sight it in front, next moment astern! The Master tempts men forward deftly bit by bit. He widened me with culture, he bound me with courtesy. Until my strength was spent I had no power to stop. The goal seemed at hand: I longed to reach it, but the way was closed.
When the Master was very ill, Tzu-lu moved the disciples to act as ministers. During a better spell the Master said: Yu has long been feigning. This show of ministers, when I have no ministers, whom can it deceive? Will it deceive Heaven? Moreover, is it not better to die in your arms, my boys, than to die in the arms of ministers? And if I lack a grand burial, shall I die by the roadside?
The Master said: Who would not give ear to a downright word? But to mend is of price. Who would not be pleased by a guiding word? But to ponder the word is of price. With such as give ear, but will not mend; who are pleased, but will not ponder, I can do nothing.
The Master said: Her thoughts were not with him, or how could he be far away?
Note 1. During the Masters wanderings. K´uang is said to have been a small state near Lu, that had been oppressed by Yang Huo. Confucius resembled him, and the men of K´uang set upon him, mistaking him for their enemy. The commentators say that the Master was not affrighted, only roused to a sense of danger. I cannot find that the text says so. [back]
Note 2. The half-barbarous tribes in the mountainous, eastern districts of the present province of Shantung. [back]