What are Shishi?

Shishi (志士 patriots) are knights (士) with the resolve (志) to follow the right way.
The Third Year of Ansei, After August. “The Complete Book of Martial Lessons.”

30日志士と云ふは
志士と云ふは即ち道に志すの士なり。
安政三年八月以降「武教全書講録」

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Gentlemen, Even When Thirsty…

Gentlemen, even when thirsty, do not drink of the Spring of Tousen. Patriots, even when hard pressed, do not forget the ditch.
The Fourth Year of Ansei, August. “A Explanation for Kouzaburo.”

25日君子は渇すとも
君子は渇すとも盗泉を飲まず、志士は窮すとも溝壑を忘れず。
安政四年八月「溝三郎の説」

*Tousen: a Spring in China reputed for evilness.
*Ditch: A shishi is prepared to give his life for the correct cause, even if it means his corpse will remain unburied in a dirty ditch.

The Lamentations of Our Country

I personally assume (the responsibility of) the honest lamentations of our country as if it were my own from the start.
The Third Year of Ansei, the Tenth of June. “Minutes of the Head Lecturer.”

26日国を憂ふるを以て自ら任ず
抑々余が如き、正直国を憂ふるを以て自ら任ず。
安政三年六月十日「講孟箚記」

Patriots Are

Patriots (shishi) have a goal to reach; they are gentlemen who consistently keep their integrity. From the start, they have preparedness before poverty; they don’t forget to think fondly of even eventually rolling into a ditch to die of starvation… Having this resolve once, they have nothing to want of people, nothing to desire in the world. Triumphantly, their vision should encompass Heaven and Earth, past and present.
The Second Year of Ansei, The Twenty First Day of August. “Minutes of the Head Lecturer.”

31日志士とは
志士とは志達ありて節操を守る士なり。節操を守る士は、困窮するは固より覚悟の前にて、早晩も飢餓して溝谷へ転死することを念ひて忘れず。(中略)此の志一たび立ちて、人に求むることなく世に願ふことなく、昂然として天地古今を一視すべし。
安政二年八月二十一日講孟箚記」