Lun Yu Introduction Table of content – The Analects of Confucius

The Master discusses with his disciples and unveil his preoccupations with society. Tr. Legge (en), Lau (en) and Couvreur (fr).

Section 1Section 2Section 3Section 4Section 5Section 6Section 7Section 8Section 9Section 10Section 11Section 12Section 13Section 14Section 15Section 16Section 17Section 18Section 19Section 20 (All)
 1 2  3

Lunyu XX. 2. (511)

How government may be conducted with efficiency, by honouring five excellent things, and putting away four bad things:– a conversation with Tsze-chang.
1. Tsze-chang asked Confucius, saying, "In what way should a person in authority act in order that he may conduct government properly?" The Master replied, "Let him honor the five excellent, and banish away the four bad, things;– then may he conduct government properly." Tsze-chang said, "What are meant by the five excellent things?" The Master said, "When the person in authority is beneficent without great expenditure; when he lays tasks on the people without their repining; when he pursues what he desires without being covetous; when he maintains a dignified ease without being proud; when he is majestic without being fierce."
2. Tsze-chang said, "What is meant by being beneficent without great expenditure?" The Master replied, "When the person in authority makes more beneficial to the people the things from which they naturally derive benefit;– is not this being beneficent without great expenditure? When he chooses the labors which are proper, and makes them labor on them, who will repine? When his desires are set on benevolent government, and he secures it, who will accuse him of covetousness? Whether he has to do with many people or few, or with things great or small, he does not dare to indicate any disrespect;– is not this to maintain a dignified ease without any pride? He adjusts his clothes and cap, and throws a dignity into his looks, so that, thus dignified, he is looked at with awe;– is not this to be majestic without being fierce?"
3. Tsze-chang then asked, "What are meant by the four bad things?" The Master said, "To put the people to death without having instructed them;– this is called cruelty. To require from them, suddenly, the full tale of work, without having given them warning;– this is called oppression. To issue orders as if without urgency, at first, and, when the time comes, to insist on them with severity;– this is called injury. And, generally, in the giving pay or rewards to men, to do it in a stingy way;– this is called acting the part of a mere official."

Legge XX.2.

Tzu-chang asked Confucius, 'What must a man be like before he can take part in government?' The Master said, 'If he exalts the five excellent practices and eschews the four wicked practices he can take part in government.' Tzu~hang said, 'What is meant by the five excellent practices?' The Master said, 'The gentleman is generous without its costing him anything, works others hard without their complaining, has desires without being greedy, is casual without being arrogant, and is awe-inspiring without appearing fierce.' Tzu-chang said, 'What is meant by "being generous without its costing him anything"?' The Master said, 'If a man benefits the common people by taking advantage of the things around them that they find beneficial, is this not being generous without its costing him anything? If a man, in working others hard, chooses burdens they can support, who will complain? If, desiring benevolence, a man Obtains it, where is the greed? The gentleman never dare neglect his manners whether he be dealing with the many or the few, the young or the old. Is this not being casual without being arrogant? The gentleman, with his robe and cap adjusted properly and dignified in his gaze, has a presence which inspires people who see him with awe. Is this not being awe- inspiring without appearing fierce?'
Tzu~hang said, 'What is meant by the four wicked practices?'
The Master said, 'To impose the death penalty without first reforming the people is to be cruel; to expect results without first giving warning is to be tyrannical; to insist on a time limit when tardy in issuing orders is to cause injury. When something has to be given to others anyway, to be miserly in the actual giving is to be officious.'

Lau [20:2]

Tzeu tchang demanda à Confucius ce qu'il fallait faire pour bien gouverner. Le Maître répondit : « Il faut avoir en estime cinq qualités, et éviter quatre défauts ; cela suffit. – Quelles sont ces cinq qualités ? » dit Tzeu tchang. Le Maître répondit : « L'homme honorable exerce la bienfaisance, sans rien dépenser ; il fait travailler le peuple, sans le mécontenter ; il a des désirs, sans être cupide ; il est majestueux sans orgueil, imposant sans brusquerie. » Tzeu tchang dit : « Comment exerce-t-il la bienfaisance sans rien dépenser ? » Le Maître répondit : « Il favorise tout ce qui profite au peuple ; par ce moyen, n'exerce-t-il pas la bienfaisance sans rien dépenser ? Il ne lui impose que des travaux dont il est capable ; dès lors, qui serait mécontent ? Il désire la bonté, et il l'obtient ; comment serait-il cupide ? Pour l'homme honorable, il n'y a pas de majorité ou de minorité, ni même de petit ou de grand. Il est sans arrogance ni mépris. N'est-il pas digne sans orgueil ? L'homme honorable prend garde que ses vêtements et son bonnet soient bien ajustés, que ses regards aient de la dignité. Sa gravité inspire le respect. N'est-il pas majestueux sans être dur ? »
Tzeu tchang demanda ensuite quels étaient les quatre défauts à éviter. Le Maître répondit : « Ne pas instruire ses sujets, et les punir de mort, c'est de la cruauté. Sans avoir averti d'avance, exiger que le travail [imposé] soit terminé tout de suite, c'est de la tyrannie. Donner des ordres peu pressants1 et hâter ensuite l'exécution, c'est de la fourberie. Quand il s'agit de payer, régler avec parcimonie, c'est agir comme un intendant2. »

1. Avec préméditation.
2. Qui n'ose rien accorder de son propre chef.

Couvreur XX.2.

Lun Yu XX. 2. (511) IntroductionTable of content
Previous page
Next page
Chinese landscape on plate (2)

The Analects of Confucius – Lun Yu XX. 2. (511) – Chinese on/offFrançais/English
Alias the Lunyu, the Lun Yü, the Analects, les Entretiens du maître avec ses disciples.

The Book of Odes, The Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean, Three-characters book, The Book of Changes, The Way and its Power, 300 Tang Poems, The Art of War, Thirty-Six Strategies
Welcome, help, notes, introduction, table.

Wengu, Chinese Classics multilingual text base