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Moral Maxims



THE man of first-rate excellence is virtuous independently of instruction; he of the middling class is so after instruction; the lowest order of men are vicious in spite of instruction.

In the days of affluence always think of poverty; do not Let want come upon you and make you remember with sorrow the days of plenty.

Without the wisdom of the Learned, the clown could not be governed; without the Labor of the clown. the Learned could not be fed.

The cure of ignorance is study, as meat is that of hunger.

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.

The same tree may produce sour and sweet fruit; the same mother may have a virtuous and vicious progeny.

It is equally criminal in the governor and the governed to violate the Laws.

As the scream of the eagle is heard when she has passed over, so a man's name remains after his death.

Questions of right and wrong (with reference to right and wrong) are every day arising; if not listened to, they die away of themselves.

If the domestic duties be duly performed, where is the necessity of going afar to burn incense?

Doubt and distraction are on earth; the brightness of truth in Heaven.

Meeting with difficulties, we think of our relations; on the brink of danger we rely on our friends.

Among mortals who is faultless?

Do not love idleness and hate labor; do not be diligent in the beginning and in the end lazy.

If there be no faith in our words, of what use are they?

If riches can be acquired with propriety, then acquire them; but let not unjust wealth be sought for with violence.

Wine and good dinners make abundance of friends, but in the time of adversity not one is to be found.

Let every man sweep the snow from before his own doors and not trouble himself about the frost on his neighbor's tiles.

Though a tree be a thousand chang in height, its Leaves must fall down and return to its root.

Worldly reputation and pleasure are destructive to virtue; anxious thoughts are injurious to the body.

Better be upright with poverty than depraved abundance.

He whose virtue exceeds his talents is a good man; he whose talents exceed his virtue is a mean one.

In a field of melons do not pull up your shoe; under a plum tree do not adjust your cap (be very careful of your actions under circumstances of suspicion).

The man of worth is really great without being proud; the mean man is proud without being really great.

It is said in the Ye-King that "of those men whose talent is inconsiderable, while their station is eminent, and of those whose knowledge is small, while their schemes are large, there are few who do not become miserable."

Though a man may be utterly stupid, he is very perspicacious when reprehending the bad actions of others; though he may be very intelligent, he is dull enough while excusing his own faults; do you only correct yourselves on the same principle that you correct others, and excuse others on the same principle that you excuse yourselves.

The artful are Loquacious, the simple are silent; the artful toil, the simple enjoy ease; the artful are rogues, the simple virtuous; the artful are miserable, the simple happy. Oh, that all in the empire were artful and simple ! Punishments would then be abolished. Superiors would enjoy tranquility, and inferiors would be obedient. The manners would be pure, and vile actions become extinct.

Do not anxiously hope for what is not yet come; do not vainly regret what is already past.

If your schemes do not succeed, of what use is it to regret their failure? If they do not flourish, what is the use of noisy complaints? When a heart, devoted to gain, is intent on any object, then virtue is set aside; where interested views exist, there a regard for the public welfare is extinguished.

Men's passions are like water: when water has once flowed over, it cannot be restored; when the passions have once been indulged, they cannot be restrained. Water must be kept in by dikes; the passions must be ruled by the laws of propriety.

Low courage is the resentment of the blood and spirits; noble courage is the resentment of propriety and justice. The former of these no man should possess; the latter no man should be without.

Without ascending the mountain, we cannot judge of the height of heaven; without descending into the valley, we cannot judge of the depth of the earth; without listening to the maxims left by the ancient kings, we cannot know the excellence of learning.

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