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

p. 113


It was once generally affirmed that the greater the Self the more impossible it was to compare it with anything else. 1 Now it is just this greatness which makes it incomparable; should, however, a comparison be demanded, it would have to be described as the eternal, which is imperceptible. Now the Self has three treasures, to which it clings as to inseparables—the first is compassion, 2 the second, self-restraint, the third, nowhere venturing to claim precedence.

Compassionate—therefore irresistible! 3

Self-restrained—therefore enlarged!

Nowhere venturing to claim precedence—therefore efficient! 4

Now-a-days men cast compassion on one side, yet expect to be irresistible! They discard self-restraint, yet look for enlargement; They forget to retire, yet demand precedence!—this is death. 5

As regards compassion, rely on it when you would contend, and you will overcome; rely on it when you would protect, and you will succeed.

p. 114

[paragraph continues] Heaven is ever ready to deliver because of the protection compassion brings. 6

"He shall not strive, nor cry aloud;
 Neither shall anyone hear his voice in the streets.
 A bruised reed shall he not break,
 And smoking flax shall he not quench,
 Till he send forth judgment unto victory,
 And in his name shall the Gentiles hope."
                                    (Matt. xii, 19-21.)


113:1 True greatness cannot be included in any one class to the exclusion of the others, and therefore it cannot be classified.

113:2 Maclagan, who translates tz’u by gentleness instead of compassion, notes that "Gentleness corresponds to the female element which appears more than once in the Tao-teh-king."

113:3 Cf. II. Sam. xxii, 36. Hsü-hui-hi notes that compassion is irresistible because it never exerts its strength until force is unavoidable.

113:4 Lit. "a vessel of highest honor." v. Legge in loc.

113:5 Can the flower live when the root is gone?

114:6 Students will observe that my translation differs materially from the renditions of previous laborers in the same field. Whether for better or for worse I must leave to the judgment of Chinese scholars, and the intuitions of those to whom the ancient philosopher is a teacher.

Next: Chapter LXVIII