Chinese Idiom Stories
Very Intelligent in Youth
Kung Rung was a famous minister of the Eastern Han dynasty. He was a 20th generation descendant of Confucius, and from his youth was very intelligent.
When Kung Rung was ten years old, he went to Loyang with his father. He heard that the only guests allowed to visit the home of Loyang's prefect, Li Yuan-li, were either relatives or talented and famous people. Kung Rung wanted to find out what kind of person Li Yuan-li was, so he went to the prefect's home and told the gatekeepers that he was a relative. When Li Yuan-li saw that a child had come to see him, he asked, "How are you related to me?" Kung Rung very politely answered, "Although you and I are not related, my ancestor Confucius used to ask your ancestor Lau-tz questions regarding etiquette. Does that not make us old friends?" When Li Yuan-li's guests heard such a small child answer so well, they all praised Kung Rung's intelligence. Only the senior official Chen Wei said, "Intelligence in youth does not necessarily mean success as an adult." On hearing this, Kung Rung said, "I'll bet Official Chen was very intelligent as a youth, right?
To say that a person is "very intelligent in youth" is to imply that though is smart as a child, he will not have a very bright future.