What use is eloquence?

WXLYG-28

或曰:「雍也仁而不佞。」子曰:「焉用佞?御人以口給,屢憎於人。不知其仁,焉用佞?」
Someone said: “Ran Yong is good but not eloquent.” Confucius said: “What use is eloquence? A smooth tongue creates many enemies. I do not know whether Ran Yong is good; but he definitely has no need for eloquence.”

Confucius was extremely suspicious of people with a “smooth tongue”. To him, substance was way more important than style, and he constantly counseled his disciples to focus on building up the fundamentals rather than their ability to sweet talk others.

Ran Yong was another of Confucius’s disciples. Despite his less than ringing endorsement of him here, Confucius had a high regard for his talents. He even suggested that he had the potential to assume high office even though he came from a very humble background.

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