Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK III * - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean)
Return to Title Page for The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
BOOK III * - Confucius, The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean) 
The Chinese Classics: Translated into English with Preliminary Essays and Explanatory Notes by James Legge. Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius. Second Edition (London: N. Trübner, 1869).
Part of: The Chinese Classics
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ChapterI. Confucius said of the head of the Ke family, who had eight rows of pantomimes in his area, “If he can bear to do this, what may he not bear to do?”
II. The three families used the yung ode, while the vessels were being removed, at the conclusion of the sacrifice. The Master said, “ ‘Assisting are the princes;—the Emperor looks profound and grave:’—what application can these words have in the hall of the three families?”
III. The Master said, “If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If a man be without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with music?”
IV.1. Lin Fang asked what was the first thing to be attended to in ceremonies.
2. The Master said, “A great question indeed!”
3. “In festive ceremonies it is better to be sparing than extravagant. In the ceremonies of mourning it is better that there be deep sorrow than a minute attention to observances.”
V. The Master said, “The rude tribes of the east and north have their princes, and are not like the States of our great land which are without them.”
VI. The chief of the Ke family was about to sacrifice to the T‘ae mountain. The Master said to Yen Yew, “Can you not save him from this?” He answered, “I cannot.” Confucius said, “Alas! will you say that the T‘ae mountain is not so discerning as Lin Fang?”
VII. The Master said, “The student of virtue has no contentions. If it be said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery? But he bows complaisantly to his competitors; thus he ascends the platform, descends, and exacts the forfeit of drinking. In his contention, he is still the Keun-tsze.”
VIII.1. Tsze-hea asked, saying, “What is the meaning of the passage—‘The loveliness of her artful smile! The well-defined black and white of her fine eyes! The plain ground for the colours’?”
2. The Master said, “The business of laying on the colours follows the preparation of the plain ground.”
3. “Ceremonies then are a subsequent thing!” The Master said, “It is Shang who can bring out my meaning! Now I can begin to talk about the odes with him.”
IX. The Master said, “I am able to describe the ceremonies of the Hea dynasty, but Ke cannot sufficiently attest my words. I am able to describe the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, but Sung cannot sufficiently attest my words. They cannot do so because of the insufficiency of their records and wise men. If those were sufficient, I could adduce them in support of my words.”
X. The Master said, “At the great sacrifice, after the pouring out of the libation, I have no wish to look on.”
XI. Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. The Master said, “I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it as easy to govern the empire as to look on this;”—pointing to his palm.
XII.1. He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed to the spirits, as if the spirits were present.
2. The Master said, “I consider my not being present at the sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice.”
XIII.1. Wang-sun Kea asked, saying, “What is the meaning of the saying, ‘It is better to pay court to the furnace than to the south-west corner’?”
2. The Master said, “Not so. He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.”
XIV. The Master said, “Chow had the advantage of viewing the two past dynasties. How complete and elegant are its regulations! I follow Chow.”
XV. The Master, when he entered the grand temple, asked about everything. Some said, “Who will say that the son of the man of Tsow knows the rules of propriety? He has entered the grand temple and asks about everything.” The Master heard the remark, and said, “This is a rule of propriety.”
XVI. The Master said, “In archery it is not going through the leather which is the principal thing;—because people’s strength is not equal. This was the old way.”
XVII.1. Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected with the inanguration of the first day of each month.
2. The Master said, “Tsze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony.”
XVIII. The Master said, “The full observance of the rules of propriety in serving one’s prince is accounted by people to be flattery.”
XIX. The Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and how ministers should serve their prince. Confucius replied, “A prince should employ his ministers according to the rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with faithfulness.”
XX. The Master said, “The Kwan Ts‘eu is expressive of enjoyment without being licentious, and of grief without being hurtfully excessive.”
XXI.1. The Duke Gae asked Tsae Wo about the altars of the spirits of the land. Tsae Wo replied, “The Hea sovereign used the pine tree; the man of the Yin used the cypress; and the man of the Chow used the chestnut tree, meaning thereby to cause the people to be in awe.”
2. When the Master heard it, he said, “Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to blame.”
XXII.1. The Master said, “Small indeed was the capacity of Kwan Chung!”
2. Some one said, “Was Kwan Chung parsimonious?” “Kwan,” was the reply, “had the San Kwei, and his officers performed no double duties; how can he be considered parsimonious?”
3. “Then, did Kwan Chung know the rules of propriety?” The Master said, “The princes of States have a screen intercepting the view at their gates. Kwan had likewise a screen at his gate. The princes of States on any friendly meeting between two of them, had a stand on which to place their inverted cups. Kwan had also such a stand. If Kwan knew the rules of propriety, who does not know them?”
XXIII. The Master instructing the Grand music-master of Loo said, “How to play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all the parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be in harmony, while severally distinct and yet flowing without break; and thus on to the conclusion.”
XXIV. The border-warden at E requested to be introduced to the Master, saying, “When men of superior virtue have come to this, I have never been denied the privilege of seeing them.” The followers of the sage introduced him, and when he came out from the interview, he said, “My friends, why are you distressed by your master’s loss of office? The empire has long been without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue.”
XXV. The Master said of the Shaou that it was perfectly beautiful and also perfectly good. He said of the Woo that it was perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.
XXVI. The Master said, “High station filled without indulgent generosity; ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted without sorrow;—wherewith should I contemplate such ways?”
[* ]Heading and subjects of this book. The last book treated of the practice of government, and therein no things, according to Chinese ideas, are more important than ceremonial rites and music. With those topics, therefore, the twenty-six chapters of this book are occupied, and “eight rows,” the principal words in the first chapter, are adopted as its heading.
[1. ]Confucius’ indignation at the usurpation of imperial rites. These dancers, or pantomimes rather, kept time in the temple services, in the front space before the raised portion in the principal hall, moving or brandishing feathers, flags, or other articles. In his ancestral temple, the Emperor had eight rows, each row consisting of eight men: a duke or prince had six, and a great officer only four. For the Ke, therefore, to use eight rows was a usurpation, for though it may be argued, that to the ducal family of Loo imperial rites were conceded, and that the offshoots of it might use the same, still great officers were confined to the ordinances proper to their rank. Confucius’ remark may also be translated, “If this be endured, what may not be endured?”
[2. ]Again against usurped rites. The three families assembled together as being the descendants of Duke Hwan in one temple. To this temple belonged the area in the last chapter, which is called the area of the Ke, because circumstances had concurred to make the Ke the chief of the three families, For the Yung ode, see the She-king, V. Bk II. vii. 1. It was properly sung in the imperial temples of the Chow dynasty, at the “clearing away” of the sacrificial apparatus, and contains the lines quoted by Confucius, which of course were quite mappropriate to the circumstances of the three families.
[3. ]Ceremonies and music vain without virtue.
[4. ]The object of ceremonies should regulate them against formalism. Lin Fang was a man of Loo, supposed to have been a disciple of Confucius, and whose tablet is now placed in the outer court of the temples. He is known only by the question in this chapter.
[5. ]The anarchy of Confucius’ time.
[6. ]On the folly of usurped sacrifices. The T‘ae mountain is the first of the “five mountains” which are celebrated in Chinese literature, and have always received religious honours. It was in Loo, or rather on the borders between Loo and Ts‘e, about two miles north of the present district city of T‘ae-gan, in the department of Tse-nan, in Shan-tung. According to the ritual of China, sacrifice could only be offered to these mountains by the emperor, and princes in whose States any of them happened to be. For the chief of the Ke family, therefore, to sacrifice to the T‘ae mountain was a great usurpation. Yen Yew was one of the disciples of Confucius, and is now third among the “wise ones” on the west. He was a man of ability and resources, and on one occasion proved himself a brave soldier.
[7. ]The superior man avoids all contentious striving. In Confucius’ time there were three principal exercises of archery:—the great archery, under the eye of the emperor; the guests’ archery, at the visits of the princes among themselves or at the imperial court; and the festive archery. The regulations for the archers were substantially the same in them all. Every stage of the trial was preceded by “bowings and yieldings,” making the whole an exhibition of courtesies and not of contention.
[8. ]Ceremonies are secondary and ornamental. The sentences quoted by Tsze-hea are from an old ode, one of those which Confucius did not admit into the She-king. The two first lines, however, are found in it, I. v. 3. The disciple’s inquiry turns on the meaning of the last line, which he took to be: “The plain ground is to be regarded as the colouring;” but Confucius, in his reply, corrects his error.
[9. ]The decay of the monuments of antiquity. Of Hea and Yin, see II. 23. In the small state of Ke (what is now the district of the same name in K‘ae-fung department in Ho-nan), the sacrifices to the emperors of the Hea dynasty were maintained by their descendants. So with the Yin dynasty and Sung, also a part of the present Ho-nan. But the “literary monuments” of those countries, and their “wise men” had become few. Had Confucius therefore delivered all his knowledge about the two dynasties, he would have exposed his truthfulness to suspicion, which he would not do. We see from the chapter how in the time of Confucius many of the records of antiquity had perished.
[10. ]The sage’s dissatisfaction at the want of propriety of and in ceremonies. The “great sacrifice” here spoken of could properly be celebiated only by the emperor. The individual sacrificed to in it was the remotest ancestor from whom the founder of the reigning dynasty traced his descendant. As to who were his assessors in the sacrifice, and how often it was offered:—these are disputed points. An imperial rite, its use in Loo was wrong (see next chapter) but there was something in the service after the early act of libation inviting the descent of the spirits, which more particularly moved the anger of Confucius.
[11. ]The profound meaning of the great sacrifice. This chapter is akin to ii. 21. Confucius evades replying to his questioner, it being contrary to Chinese propriety to speak in a country of the faults of its government or rulers. If he had entered into an account of the sacrifice, he must have condemned the use of an imperial rite in Loo.
[12. ]Confucius’ own sincerity in sacrificing. By “the dead” we are to understand Confucius’ own forefathers, by “the spirits” other spirits to whom in his offical capacity he had to sacrifice.
[13. ]That there is no resource against the consequences of violating the right. 1. Kea was a great officer of Wei, and having the power of the state in his hands, insinuated to Confucius that it would be for his advantage to pay court to him. The south-west corner was from the structure of ancient houses the cosiest nook, and the place of honour. Choo He explains the proverb by reference to the customs of sacritice. The furnace was comparatively a mean place, but when the spirit of the furnace was sacrificed to, then the rank of the two places was changed for the time, and the proverb quoted was in vogue. But there does not seem much force in this explanation. The door, or well, or any other of the five things in the regular sacrifices, might take the place of the furnace. 2. Confucius’ reply was in a high tone. Choo He says, “Heaven means principle.” But why should Heaven mean principle, if there were not in such a use of the term an instinctive recognition of a supreme government of intelligence and righteousness? We find the term explained by “The lofty one who is on high.”
[14. ]The completeness and elegance of the institutions of the Chow dynasty.
[15. ]Confucius in the grand temple. “The grand temple” was the temple dedicated to the famous Duke of Chow, and where he was worshipped with imperial rites. The thing is supposed to have taken place at the beginning of Confucius’ official service in Loo, when he went into the temple with other officers to assist at the sacrifice. He had studied all about ceremonies, and was famed for his knowledge of them, but he thought it a mark of sincerity and earnestness to make minute inquiries about them on the occasion spoken of Tsow was the name of the town in Loo, of which Confucius’ father had been governor, who was known therefore as “the man of Tsow.” We may suppose that Confucius would be styled as in the text, only in his early life, or by very ordinary people.
[16. ]How the ancients made archery a discipline of virtue.
[17. ]How Confucius cleaved to ancient rites. The emperor in the last month of the year gave out to the princes a calendar for the first days of the twelve months of the year ensuing. This was kept in their ancestral temples, and on the first of every month they offered a sheep and announced the day, requesting sanction for the duties of the month. The dukes of Loo neglected now their part of this ceremony, but the sheep was still offered;—a meaningless formality, it seemed to Tsze-kung. Confucius, however, thought that while any part of the ceremony was retained, there was a better chance of restoring the whole.
[18. ]How princes should be served. against the spirit of the times.
[19. ]The guiding principles in the regulation of prince and minister. Ting. “Greatly anxious, tranquillizer of the people,” was the posthumous epithet of Sung, Prince of Loo, bc 508—494.
[20. ]A praise of the first of the odes. Kwan Ts‘eu is the name of the first ode in the She-king, and may be translated,—“Kwan Kwan go the King-ducks.”
[21. ]A rash reply of Tsae Wo about the altars to the spirits of the land, and lament of Confucius thereon. 1. King Gae, see II xix. Tsae Wo was an eloquent disciple of the sage, a native of Loo. His place is among the “wise ones.” He tells the duke that the founders of the several dynasties planted such and such trees about the altars. The reason was that the soil suited such trees; but as the word for the chestnut tree, the tree of the existing dynasty, is used in the sense of “to be afraid,” he suggested a reason for its planting which might lead the duke to severe measures against his people to be carried into effect at the altars Compare Shoo-king, III. ii. 5, “I will put you to death before the altar to the spirit of the land.” 2. This is all directed against Wo’s reply. He had spoken, and his words could not be recalled.
[22. ]Confucius’ opinion of Kwan Chung,—against him. 1. Kwan Chung is one of the most famous names in Chinese history. He was chief minister to the Duke Hwan of Ts‘e (bc 683—642), the first and greatest of the five p‘a leaders of the princes of the empire under the Chow dynasty. In the times of Confucius and Mencius, people thought more of Kwan than those sages, no hero-worshippers, would allow. Most foreign readers, however, in studying the history of Kwan’s times, will hesitate in adopting the sage’s judgment about him. He rendered great services to his State and to China.
[23. ]On the playing of music.
[24. ]A stranger’s view of the vocation of Confucius. E was a small town on the borders of Wei, referred to a place in the present district of Lan-Yang, department K‘ae-fung, Honan province. Confucius was retiring from Wei, the prince of which could not employ him. The “wooden-tongued bell” was a metal bell with a wooden tongue, shaken to call attention to announcements, or along the ways to call people together. Heaven, the warden thought, would employ Confucius to proclaim and call men’s attention to the truth and right.
[25. ]The comparative merits of the music of Shun and Woo. Shaou was the name of the music made by Shun, perfect in melody and sentiment. Woo was the music of King Woo, also perfect in melody, but breathing the martial air, indicative of its author.
[26. ]The disregard of what is essential vitiates all services.