The people in the well-ordered ages of the past upheld the public law and abandoned private strategies; they focused their intentions and unified their conduct. Everything they did was for the sake of being employed by the ruler.
He who is vain and delights in his own ability is deceived by his inferiors. When he likes to bring forth arguments and kindliness, his inferiors take advantage of his abilities.
If you rely on political factions to promote men to office, the people will work to develop instrumental relationships and will not seek to be useful with regard to the law. Thus, a ruler who mistakes reputation for ability when assigning offices will see his state fall into disorder.
If ministers forget their ruler and establish relationships with foreign powers in order to advance the interests of their confederates, there will be scant reason for subordinates to obey their superiors.
A ruler of men faces two possible misfortunes: if he employs the worthy, the ministers will use worthiness as a pretext to rob their ruler of his power, but if he promotes men recklessly, his affairs will be neglected, and he will not prevail.
The severe household has no fierce slaves, but it is the affectionate mother.
The severe household has no fierce slaves, while it is the affectionate mother who has the prodigal son.
I believe it is impossible to be sure of anything.
The intelligent ruler makes the law select men and makes no arbitrary appointment himself; he makes the law measure merits and makes no arbitrary judgment himself.
A wise man, when he writes a book, sets forth his arguments fully and clearly; an enlightened ruler, when he makes his laws, sees to it that every contingency is provided for in detail.