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Chapter XXVI. Cutting Exchanges

(a) The Cancellarius: Would a heaped-up tumulus in seeking to reach a stately height reject an extra cubit of earth 1 ; would a superior man in seeking to widen his reputation disregard the words of an humble faggotcarrier? For he is widely versed who has observed much, and he is wise who much has retained; clogged the mind of him who is adverse to censure and friendless he who puts trust solely in himself. Hence he will never be remiss who seeks counsel even unto the lowest of the lowest, and undulled in his achievements he who seeks suggestions even among the commons as says the Book of Odes: Go thou to the humble shepherd and woodcutter.2 Now since plain-clothed people are all given freedom to vent their opinions, how much the more should not I, a secretary to my lords, the high ministers, also be allowed to do so? It is true that the Spring and Autumn does not record the deeds of mere scholars, yet it notes the fact that a certain Huan acted as steward. 3Although they do not engage me in office, said Confucius, yetI should have been consulted about them.4 However incapable is my humble self, I, too, have inclined my ears to hear instructions, holding up my skirts, have submitted to a teacher's directions and have joined a school to learn how one should walk in the superior man's path. If what you, Literati, have said is right, then what harm can the words of my humble self do? If what you said is wrong, who could refrain to say it is wrong, though he be an insignificant cancellarius?

(b) The Literati: Assisting men in righteousness is called loyalty, but misleading people into evil is treachery. He who grieves at his master's faults and approaches him with good advice, is a loyal minister to his prince and a true vassal of his lord. Let a lord have three blunt , said Confucius, and that lord will never lose his patrimony though he be devoid of principle.5 But you, sir, holding now the rank of a steward, you have a heart where no feeling of loyalty or right is present. It is beyond your power to straighten out the crooked, or rectify the evil. You follow the current to safeguard yourself, and bow to the wind to please your superiors, blindly accepting what your superiors declare and deviously following them in what they practice, like a shadow pursuing its body and an echo repeating a sound, never being able to distinguish right from wrong. You have donned the Confucian dress, capped yourself with the Confucian cap but you will never be able to follow in the Confucian path. You are no true `Confucian!' Not unlike a painted clay dragon with head and eyes complete in every detail, but which is only a mock dragon. The shepherd's purse looks like a vegetable, but is quite different in taste; jade and stone look similar but differ in kind. You are not a Confucian who, after Master K'ung, clings to the Classics and holds fast to principle, you are of those Confucianists lowly about facing and fawning upon the ministers; you are none of our kind. Said Confucius when Jan Yu became steward to Chi Shih and kept on still increasing his income: You may beat the drum my sons and attack him.6 We do not hold, therefore, a helper of Chieh for wise, nor Chieh's tax-gatherer for altruistic.

Silenced, the Cancellarius made no reply.


1. 山 林 不 讓 椒 桂... According to Chang read 陵 for 林 and 跬 for 桂 as making better sense. 椒 chiao to be taken in the comparatively rare sense of "peak of a hill," 桂 kuei as half a pace. Cf. Li Ssŭ, On the Employment of Foreigners: 泰 山 不 讓 土 壤 故 能 成 其 大 . 河 海 不 擇 細 流 故 能 就 其 深 "Not a single clod was added to T`ai-shan in vain; hence the huge mountain we now behold. The merest streamlet is received into the bosom of Ocean; hence the Ocean's unfathomable expanse." Giles, Gems (Prose), p. 53.

2. Cf. Shih Ching, III, ii, X, 3.

3. Cf. Ch'un Ch'iu, Yin I: 秋 七 月 天 王 使 宰 晅 來 歸 惠 公 仲 子 之 賵 "En automne, au septième mois de l'année, Hiuen, ministre et envoyé du souvereign établi par le ciel (l'empereur 平 王 P`ing ouang) vint à Lou offrir des voitures et d'autres présents pour les funérailles de Houei Koung et de sa femme la princesse Tchoung tseu" [Couvreur].

4. Lun Yü, XIII, 14. Omit 候 which apparently crept in under the influence of 諸 [Soothill].

5. Hsiao Ching, ch. XV.

6. Lun Yü, XI, 16 (Soothill).

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia