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The simple quality of his duties as a prince can be guessed when we are told that his work as keeper of the herds required him to ride long distances on horseback to settle difficulties between rival herders. The range belonged to the State, and the owners of goats, sheep and cattle were in continual controversies. Montana and Colorado will understand this matter. Confucius summoned the disputants and talked to them long about the absurdity of quarreling and the necessity of getting together in complete understanding. Then it was that he first put forth his best-known maxim: “You should not do to others that which you would not have others do to you.”

This negative statement of the Golden Rule is found expressed in various ways in the writings of Confucius. A literal interpretation of the Chinese language is quite impossible, as the Chinese have single signs or symbols that express a complete idea. To state the same matter, we often use a whole page.

Confucius had a single word which expressed the Golden Rule in such a poetic way that it is almost useless to try to convey it to people of the West. This word, which has been written into English as “Shu,” means: My heart responds to yours, or my heart’s desire is to meet your heart’s desire, or I wish to do to you even as I would be done by. This sign, symbol or word Confucius used to carve in the bark of trees by the roadside. The French were filled with a like impulse when they cut the words Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, over the entrances to all public buildings.

Confucius had his symbol of love and friendship painted on a board, which he stuck into the ground before the tent where he lodged; and finally it was worked upon a flag by some friends and presented to him, and became his flag of peace.

His success in keeping down strife among the herders, and making peace among his people, soon gave him a fame beyond the borders of his own State. As a judge he had the power to show both parties where they were wrong, and arranged for them a common meeting-ground.

His qualifications as an arbiter were not, however, limited to his powers of persuasion–he could shoot an arrow farther and hurl a spear with more accuracy than any man he ever met. Very naturally there are a great number of folklore stories concerning his prowess, some of which make him out a sort of combination Saint George and William Tell, with the added kingly graces of Alfred the Great. Omitting the incredible, we are willing to believe that this man had a giant’s strength, but was great enough not to use it like a giant.

We are willing to believe that when attacked by robbers, he engaged them in conversation and that, seated on the grass, he convinced them they were in a bad business. Also, he did not later hang them, as did our old friend Julius Caesar under like conditions.

When twenty-seven he ceased going abroad to hold court and settle quarrels, but sending for the disputants, they came, and he gave them a course of lectures in ethics. In a week, by a daily lesson of an hour’s length, they were usually convinced that to quarrel is very foolish, since it reduces bodily vigor, scatters the mind, and disturbs the secretions, so the man is the loser in many ways.

This seems to us like a very queer way to hold court, but Confucius maintained that men should learn to govern their tempers, do equity, and thus be able to settle their own disputes, and this without violence. “To fight decides who is the stronger, the younger and the more skilful in the use of arms, but it does not decide who is right. That is to be settled by the Heaven in your own heart.”