With a translation, critical and exegetical
notes, prolegomena, and copious indexes
By James Legge
IN FIVE VOLUMES
THE GREAT LEARNING
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN
BOOK I. HSIO R.
CHAPTER I. 1. The Master said, 'Is it not pleasant to learn with
a constant perseverance and application?
2. 'Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant
3. 'Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no
discomposure though men may take no note of him?'
CHAP. II. 1. The philosopher Yu said, 'They are few who, being
filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors.
There have been none, who, not liking to offend against their
superiors, have been fond of stirring up confusion.
2. 'The superior man bends his attention to what is radical.
That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial
piety and fraternal submission! - are they not the root of all
CHAP. III. The Master said, 'Fine words and an insinuating
appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.'
CHAP. IV. The philosopher Tsang said, 'I daily examine myself
on three points: - whether, in transacting business for others, I may
have been not faithful; - whether, in intercourse with friends, I
may have been not sincere; - whether I may have not mastered
and practised the instructions of my teacher.'
CHAP. V. The Master said, To rule a country of a thousand
chariots, there must be reverent attention to business, and
sincerity; economy in expenditure, and love for men; and the
employment of the people at the proper seasons.'
CHAP. VI. The Master said, 'A youth, when at home, should be
filial, and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and
truthful. He should overflow in love to all, and cultivate the
friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the
performance of these things, he should employ them in polite
CHAP. VII. Tsze-hsia said, 'If a man withdraws his mind from
the love of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the
virtuous; if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength;
if, in serving his prince, he can devote his life; if, in his intercourse
with his friends, his words are sincere: - although men say that he
has not learned, I will certainly say that he has.'
CHAP. VIII. 1. The Master said, 'If the scholar be not grave, he
will not call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid.
2. 'Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
3. 'Have no friends not equal to yourself.
4. 'When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.'
CHAP. IX. The philosopher Tsang said, 'Let there be a careful
attention to perform the funeral rites to parents, and let them be
followed when long gone with the ceremonies of sacrifice; - then
the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence.'
CHAP. X. 1. Tsze-ch'in asked Tsze-kung, saying, 'When our master
comes to any country, he does not fail to learn all about its
government. Does he ask his information? or is it given to him?'
2. Tsze-kung said, 'Our master is benign, upright, courteous,
temperate, and complaisant, and thus he gets his information. The
master's mode of asking information! - is it not different from that
of other men?'
CHAP. XI. The Master said, 'While a man's father is alive, look
at the bent of his will; when his father is dead, look at his conduct.
If for three years he does not alter from the way of his father, he
may be called filial.'
CHAP. XII. 1. The philosopher Yu said, 'In practising the rules of
propriety, a natural ease is to be prized. In the ways prescribed by
the ancient kings, this is the excellent quality, and in things small
and great we follow them.
2. 'Yet it is not to be observed in all cases. If one, knowing
how such ease should be prized, manifests it, without regulating it
by the rules of propriety, this likewise is not to be done.'
CHAP. XIII. The philosopher Yu said, 'When agreements are
made according to what is right, what is spoken can be made good.
When respect is shown according to what is proper, one keeps far
from shame and disgrace. When the parties upon whom a man
leans are proper persons to be intimate with, he can make them his
guides and masters.'
CHAP. XIV. The Master said, 'He who aims to be a man of
complete virtue in his food does not seek to gratify his appetite, nor
in his dwelling place does he seek the appliances of ease; he is
earnest in what he is doing, and careful in his speech; he frequents
the company of men of principle that he may be rectified: - such a
person may be said indeed to love to learn.'
CHAP. XV. 1. Tsze-kung said, 'What do you pronounce
concerning the poor man who yet does not flatter, and the rich man
who is not proud?' The Master replied, 'They will do; but they are
not equal to him, who, though poor, is yet cheerful, and to him, who,
though rich, loves the rules of propriety.'
2. Tsze-kung replied, 'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "As you
cut and then file, as you carve and then polish." - The meaning is
the same, I apprehend, as that which you have just expressed.'
3. The Master said, 'With one like Ts'ze, I can begin to talk
about the odes. I told him one point, and he knew its proper
CHAP. XVI. The Master said, 'I will not be afflicted at men's
not knowing me; I will be afflicted that I do not know men.'
BOOK II. WEI CHANG.
CHAP. I. The Master said, 'He who exercises government by
means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which
keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.'
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