人之初 性本善 性相近 習相遠
Men at their birth, are naturally good.
Their natures are much the same; but their habits make them widely different.
苟不教 性乃遷 教之道 貴以專
If there is no teaching, the nature will deteriorate.
The right way in teaching, is to attach the importance in concentration and memorization.
昔孟母 擇鄰處 子不學 斷機杼
Of old, the mother of Mencius, chose a good neighborhood
and when her child would not learn, she broke the shuttle from the loom.
竇燕山 有義方 教五子 名俱揚
Tou of the Swallow Hills, had the right methods.
He taught his five sons, and each of them raised the family reputation.
養不教 父之過 教不嚴 師之惰
To feed but not to teach, is the father's fault.
To teach but not to be serious, is the teacher's laziness.
子不學 非所宜 幼不學 老何為
If the child does not learn, this is not as it should be.
If he does not learn while young, what will he be when old?
玉不琢 不成器 人不學 不知義
If jade is not polished, it will remain useless.
If a man does not learn, he knows none of his duty towards his neighbor.
為人子 方少時 親師友 習禮儀
He who is the son of a man, when he is young,
should attach himself to his teachers and friends; and should practise ceremonial rites.
香九齡 能溫席 孝於親 所當執
Hsiang, at the age of nine, could warm the bed for his parents.
Filial piety towards parents, we should hold fast.
融四歲 能讓梨 弟於長 宜先知
Jung, at the age of four, could yield the pear to his big brother.
To behave as a younger brother towards elders, is one of the first things to know.
首孝弟 次見聞 知某數 識某文
Begin with filial piety and fraternal love, and then with seeing and hearing .
Learn to count, and then learn to read.
一而十 十而百 百而千 千而萬
Count from units to tens, then tens to hundreds,
hundreds to thousands, thousands and then to tens of thousands.
三才者 天地人 三光者 日月星
The three forces, are the heaven, the earth and men.
The three luminary, are the sun, the moon and the stars.
三綱者 君臣義 父子親 夫婦順
The three bonds, are the obligation between sovereign and subjection,
the love between father and children, and the harmony between husband and wife.
曰春夏 曰秋冬 此四時 運不窮
We speak of spring and summer, we speak of autumn and winter,
these four seasons, revolve without ceasing.
曰南北 曰西東 此四方 應乎中
We speak of north and south, we speak of east and west,
these four points, respond to the requirements of the center.
曰火水 木金土 此五行 本乎數
We speak of water, fire, wood, metal and earth.
The five element, have their origin of connection in number.
曰仁義 禮智信 此五常 不容紊
We speak of charity, and of duty towards one' neighbor, of propriety, of wisdom, and of truth.
These five virtues are admitted of no compromise.
稻粱菽 麥黍稷 此六穀 人所食
Rice , spike, millet, pulse wheat, glutinous millet and common millet,
these six grains are which men eat.
馬牛羊 雞犬豕 此六畜 人所飼
The horse, the cattle, the goat, the fowl, the dog, the pig.
The six poultry are which men keep.
曰喜怒 曰哀懼 愛惡欲 七情具
We speak of joy, of anger, we speak of pity, of fear, of love , of hate and of desire.
These are the seven senses we have.
匏土革 木石金 與絲竹 乃八音
The ground, earthenware, skin, wood, stone, metal, silk and bamboo,
yield the eight musical sounds.
高曾祖 父而身 身而子 子而孫
Great-great-grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, father and oneself,
oneself and son, son and grandson,
自子孫 至玄曾 乃九族 人之倫
From son and grandson, on to great grandson and great-great grandson,
these are the nine agnates, constituting the kinships of man.
父子恩 夫婦從 兄則友 弟則恭
Affection should be followed between father and children,
harmony should be followed between husband and wife,
kindness should be followed on the part of elder brothers,
respectfulness should be followed on the part of younger brothers.
長幼序 友與朋 君則敬 臣則忠
Precedence lies between the elder and the younger, as what lies between friends.
Respect lies on the part of the sovereign, as what loyalty lies on the part of the subject.
These ten obligations, are common principles to all mankind.
凡訓蒙 須講究 詳訓詁 名句讀
In the education of the young, there should be explanation and elicitation,
should be carefully in teaching of the interpretations of commentators,
and they should pay attention to good paragraphs and good sentences.
為學者 必有初 小學終 至四書
Those who are learners, must have a beginning.
The 'fundamental learning' finished, they proceed to the four books.
論語者 二十篇 群弟子 記善言
There is the Lung Yu (discourse or Analects), in twenty sections.
In this work, the various disciples have recorded the wise sayings of Confucius.
孟子者 七篇止 講道德 說仁義
The work of Mencius, had been comprised in seven sections.
These explain the way and exemplifications thereof, and expound clarity and duty towards one's neighbor.
作中庸 子思筆 中不偏 庸不易
The Chung Yung (the doctrine of the mean), by the pen of Tzu-su;
Chung (the middle) being that which odes not lean towards any side,
Yung( the course) being that which cannot be changed.
作大學 乃曾子 自修齊 至平治
He who wrote the 'Great Learning' was the philosopher Tseng.
Beginning with cultivation of the individual and ordering of the family,
it goes on to government of one's own State and ordering of the family.
孝經通 四書熟 如六經 始可讀
When the 'Classic of Filial Piety' is mastered, and the 'Four books' are known by heart.
The next is to step into the 'Six classics', which may begin to be studied.
詩書易 禮春秋 號六經 當講求
The Books of Poetry, of History and of Changes, The 'Rites of Chou Dynasty, the book of Rites, and the 'Spring and Autumn Annals', are the six classics which should be carefully explained and examined.
有連山 有歸藏 有周易 三易詳
There is the Lien Shan System, there is the Kuei Tsang, and there is the system of Changes of the Chou Dynasty, such are the three systems which elucidate the changes.
有典謨 有訓誥 有誓命 書之奧
There are the Regulations and the Counsels, The Instruction, The Announcements,
The Oaths, The Charges, these are the profundities of the Book of History.
我周公 作周禮 著六官 存治體
Our Duke of Chou, drew up the Ritual of the Chou Dynasty,
in which he set forth the duties of the six classes of officials;
and thus gave a settled form to the government.
大小戴 注禮記 述聖言 禮樂備
The Elder and the Younger Tai, wrote commentaries on the Book of Rites.
They publish the holy words, and Ceremonies and Music were set in order.
曰國風 曰雅頌 號四詩 當諷詠
We speak of the Kuo Feng, we speak of the Ya and the Sung.
These are the four sections of the Book of poetry, which should be chanted over and over.
詩既亡 春秋作 寓褒貶 別善惡
When odes ceased to be made, the Spring and Autumn Annals were produced.
These Annals contain praise and blame, in order to distinguish the good from the bad.
三傳者 有公羊 有左氏 有彀梁
The three commentaries upon the above, including Kung-Yang, Tso and that of Ku-Liang.
經既明 方讀子 撮其要 記其事
When the classics were understood, then the writings of the various philosophers should be read.
Pick out the important points in each, and take a note of the facts.
五子者 有荀楊 文中子 及老莊
The five chief philosophers, are Haun, Yang, Wen Chung Tzu, Lao Tzu and Chung Tzu.
經子通 讀諸史 考世系 知終始
When the classics and the philosophers are mastered, the various histories should then be read, and the genealogical connections should be examined, so that the end of one dynasty and the beginning of the next be known.
自羲農 至黃帝 號三皇 居上世
From Fu Hsi and Shen Nung, to the Yellow Emperor, these are called the three rulers,
who lived in the early ages.
唐有虞 號二帝 相揖遜 稱盛世
Tang and Yu-Yu, are called the two emperors.
They abdicated, one after the other, it was called the Golden Age.
夏有禹 商有湯 周文武 稱三王
The Hsia dynasty has Yu, and the Shang dynasty has T'ang'
The Chou dynasty had Wen and Wu; these are called the Three Kings
夏傳子 家天下 四百載 遷夏社
Under the Hsia dynasty the throne was transmitted from father to son,
making a family possession of the empire.
After four hundred years, the imperial sacrifice passed from the house of Hsia.
湯伐夏 國號商 六百載 至紂亡
T'ang the completer destroyed the Hsia Dynasty, and the Dynastic title became Shang.
The line lasted for six hundred years, ending with Chou Hsin.
周武王 始誅紂 八百載 最長久
King Wu of the Chou Dynasty, finally slew Chou Hsin.
His own empire lasted for eight hundred years; the longest dynasty of all.
周轍東 王綱墮 逞干戈 尚遊說
When the Chous made tracks eastwards, the feudal bond was slackened;
the arbitrament of spear and shields prevailed; and peripatetic politicians were held in high esteem.
始春秋 終戰國 五霸強 七雄出
This period began with the Spring and Autum Epoch, and ended with that of the Warring States.
Next, the Five Chieftains domineered, and Seven Martial States came to the front.
嬴秦氏 始兼并 傳二世 楚漢爭
Then the House of Chin, descended from the Ying clan, finally united all the states under one sway.
The thrown was transmitted to second generation,
upon which followed the struggle between the Ch'u and the Han states.
高祖興 漢業建 至孝平 王莽篡
Then Kao Tsu arose, and the House of Han was established.
When we come to the reign of Hsiao P'ing, Wang Mang usurped the throne.
光武興 為東漢 四百年 終於獻
Then Kuang Wu arose, and founded the Eastern Han Dynasty.
It lasted for four hundred years, and ended with the Emperor Hsien.
魏蜀吳 爭漢鼎 號三國 迄兩晉
Wei, Shu and Wu, fought for the sovereignty of the Hans.
They were called the Three Kingdoms, and existed until the two Chin Dynasties.
宋齊繼 梁陳承 為南朝 都金陵
Then followed the Sung and the Ch'i dynasties, and after then the Liang and Ch'en dynasties. These are the Southen dynasties, with their capital at Nan-King.
北元魏 分東西 宇文周 興高齊
The northern dynasties are the Wei dynasty and the Yuan family, which split into Eastern and Western Wei.
The Chou dynasty and the Yuwen, were with the Ch'i dynasty of the Kao.
迨至隋 一土宇 不再傳 失統緒
At length, under the Sui dynasty, the empire was united under one ruler.
The throne was not transmitted twice, succession to power being lost.
唐高祖 起義師 除隋亂 創國基
The first emperor of the T'ang dynasty, raised volunteer troops.
He put an end to the disorder of the House of Sui, and established the foundation of his line.
二十傳 三百載 梁滅之 國乃改
Twenty times the thrown was transmitted, in a period of 300 years.
The Liang State destroyed it, and the dynastic title was changed.
梁唐晉 及漢周 稱五代 皆有由
The Liang, the T'ang, the Chin, the Han and the Chou,
are called the five dynasties, and there was a reason for the establishment of each.
炎宋興 受周禪 十八傳 南北混
Then the fire-led house of Sung arose, and received the resignation of the house of Chou.
Eighteen times the throne was transmitted, and then the north and the south were reunited.
遼與金 皆稱帝 (此段為宋版所無)
The Liao and the Kin both alleged for an emperor.
太祖興 國大明 號洪武 都金陵 (此段為宋版所無)
Tai-Chu arose from a civilian, called his new thrown as Ming Dynasty,
He named himself Hon-Wu, with the capital at Nan-King
迨成祖 遷燕京 十六世 至崇禎 (此段為宋版所無)
Till Chen-Chu, he moved to Pen-King as the capital.
Ming lasted for sixteen generations until Chung-Zen.
閹亂後 寇內訌 闖逆變 神器終 (此段為宋版所無)
The eunuch disorder came first, and invaders followed with internal troubles.
Chuan rebelled, the Ming Dynasty finally ended.
清順治 據神京 至十傳 宣統遜 (此段為宋版所無)
The first thrown of Ching Dynasty was Shuan-Zei. He took Pei-King as the capital.
It lasted for ten generations in total, and Shuen-Tong failed the Ching Dynasty at last.
舉總統 共和成 復漢土 民國興 (此段為宋版所無)
People voted for President, thus the Republic of People had come.
In order to revive the Han territory and culture, we set the Republic of Chinese.
廿二史 全在茲 載治亂 知興衰 (此段為宋版所無)
The twenty-two Dynastic Histories, are all embraced above.
They contain examples of good and bad governments.
You may learn the principles of prosperity and decay.
十七史 全在茲 載治亂 知興衰
The Seventeen Dynastic Histories, are all embraced above.
They contain examples of good and bad to be the governments.
You may learn the principles of prosperity and decay.
讀史書 考實錄 通古今 若親目
You who read the history, must study the Annals, whereby you will understand ancient and modern events, as though having seen them with your own eyes.
口而誦 心而惟 朝於斯 夕於斯
Recite them with the mouth, and ponder over them in your hearts.
Do this in the morning; and do this in the evening.
昔仲尼 師項橐 古聖賢 尚勤學
Of old, Confucius, took Hsiang T'o for his teacher.
The inspired men and sages of old, studied diligently nevertheless.
趙中令 讀魯論 彼既仕 學且勤
Chao, president of the Council, studied the Lu Test of the Analects.
He, already an official, still studied with diligence.
披蒲編 削竹簡 彼無書 且知勉
One opened out rushes and plaited them together, another scraped tablets of bamboo.
These men had no books, but they knew how to make an effort.
頭懸梁 錐刺股 彼不教 自勤苦
One tied his head to the beam above him; another pricked his thigh with an awl.
They were not taught, but toiling hard of their own accord.
如囊螢 如映雪 家雖貧 學不輟
Then we have one who put fireflies in a bag.
And again another who used the white glare from snow.
Although their families were poor, these men studied unceasingly.
如負薪 如掛角 身雖勞 猶苦卓
Again, there was one who carried firewood, and another who used horns and pegs.
Although they toiled with their bodies, they were nevertheless remarkable for their application.
蘇老泉 二十七 始發憤 讀書籍
Shu Lao-Chuan, at the age of twenty-seven, understood the importance of studying
and devoted himself to the study of books at last.
彼既老 猶悔遲 爾小生 宜早思
When he passed the learning age, he deeply regretted his delay.
You youngmen, should take action earlier.
若梁灝 八十二 對大廷 魁多士
Then there were Liang Hao, who at the age of eighty-two,
made his replies to the great hall, and came out first among many scholars.
彼既成 眾稱異 爾小生 宜立志
When thus late he had succeeded, all men pronounced him a prodigy.
You youngmen, should make up your minds to study.
瑩八歲 能詠詩 泌七歲 能賦棋
Jung at the age of eight, could compose poetry.
Pi, at the age of seven, could make an epigram on black-and-white Chinese chess.
彼穎悟 人稱奇 爾幼學 當效之
These youths were quick of apprehension, and people declared them to be prodigies.
You young pupils, ought to imitate them.
蔡文姬 能辨琴 謝道韞 能詠吟
Ts'ai Wen-chi, was able to judge from the sound of a psaltery.
Hsieh Tao-yun, was able to compose verses.
彼女子 且聰敏 爾男子 當自警
They were only girls, yet they were quick and clever.
You boys ought to rouse yourselves not to lose.
唐劉晏 方七歲 舉神童 作正字
Liu Yen of the Tang dynasty ; when only seven years old,
was ranked as an 'inspired child' (child prodigy) and was appointed a Corrector of Texts.
彼雖幼 身己仕 爾幼學 勉而致
He, although a child, was already in an official post.
You young learners, strive to bring about a like result.
Those who work hard, will also succeed as he did.
犬守夜 雞司晨 苟不學 曷為人
The dog keep guard by night; the cock proclaims the dawn.
If foolishly you do not study, how can you become men?
蠶吐絲 蜂釀蜜 人不學 不如物
The silkworm produced silk, the bee makes honey.
If man does not learn, he is not equal to the brutes.
幼而學 壯而行 上致君 下澤民
Learn while young, and when growing up apply what you have learnt;
influencing the sovereign above, benefiting the people below.
揚名聲 顯父母 光於前 裕於後
Not only can you be famous for yourselves, but you can also glorify your father and mother. Honor for your ancestors, and finally enrich for your posterity.
人遺子 金滿嬴 我教子 惟一經
Men like to bequeath to their children, lots coffers of gold.
I teach my children, only by this book.
勤有功 戲無益 戒之哉 宜勉力
Diligence has its reward; playing has no advantages;
Oh, be on your guard, put into practice and go for it!!