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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 111


That which enables the rivers and the seas to become the rulers of all the water-courses is their ability to remain the lowest;—it is on this account that they are the rulers of them all. 1 In like manner the Holy Man, if he wishes to direct the people must speak of himself as subject to them; if he wishes to lead them he must put himself in the background. 2 Hence the Sages are supreme,, but the people are not burdened; they are in the vanguard, but the people are not harmed. 3 For this reason the whole Empire delights to exalt them, and no one feels annoyance. 4 Because they do not strive there is none who can strive with them. 5

p. 112

Mr. Disraeli's tribute to the Duke of Wellington provides an excellent illustration of the teaching in this chapter

                 "Thy calm mien
   Recalls old Rome, as much as thy high deed;
 Duty thine only idol, and serene
   When all are troubled; in the utmost need
 Prescient; thy country's servant ever seen,
   Yet sovereign of thyself whate'er may speed."
Quoted in Sir Herbert Maxwell's "Life of Wellington."


111:1 The same illustration is used of the Tao in chap. 32.

111:2 Comp. ch. 7.

It is man's wisdom which prevents him from being wise; it is his desire for lordship which keeps him from attaining power. The postmortem fame of the Roman Emperor Aurelius rests on his lowliness rather than on his "dignities." The constitutional sovereignty of today safeguards the throne better than the sharpest tyranny of olden times. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him."

Says Tung-kung-shu (B.C. 200), "When one places himself in his qualities below others, in character he is above them; when he places them behind those of others, in character he is before them."

Yang-hsiung (B.C. 53 A.D.) writes: "Men exalt him who humbles himself below them; and gives the precedence to him who puts himself behind them." (Quoted by Legge in loc.)

111:3 i.e. They do not rebel or disobey their superiors. Cf. chap. 60.

111:4 Markgraf of Iyeyasu, who by means of the sword transformed old feudal Japan and laid the foundation of that country's greatness, when on his death bed sent for his grandson and said to him: "You will one day have to govern the Empire. Remember, the true way to govern the Empire is to have a mercy-loving and tender heart."

111:5 See ch. 22

Next: Chapter LXVII