Learned Men in Lû

At an interview of Kwang-dze with duke Âi of Lû, the duke said, ‘There are many of the Learned class in Lû; but few of them can be compared with you, Sir.’

Kwang-dze replied, ‘There are few Learned men in Lû.’

 ‘Everywhere in Lû,’ rejoined the duke, ‘you see men wearing the dress of the Learned;–how can you say that they are few?’

‘I have heard,’ said Kwang-dze, ‘that those of them who wear round caps know the times of heaven; that those who wear square shoes know the contour of the ground; and that those who saunter about with semicircular stones at their girdle-pendents settle matters in dispute as they come before them. But superior men who are possessed of such knowledge will not be found wearing the dress, and it does not follow that those who wear the dress possess the knowledge. If your Grace think otherwise, why not issue a notification through the state, that it shall be a capital offence to wear the dress without possessing the knowledge.’

 On this the duke issued such a notification, and in five days, throughout all Lû, there was no one who dared to wear the dress of the Learned. There was only one old man who came and stood in it at the duke’s gate. The duke instantly called him in, and questioned him about the affairs of the state, when he talked about a thousand points and ten thousand divergences from them.

Kwang-dze said, ‘When the state of Lû can thus produce but one man of the Learned class, can he be said to be many?’

(Kwang-dze, Zhuāng zi, 庄子)

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