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THE UNICORN

That the unicorn is a spiritual being is beyond all doubt. Hymned in the Odes, immortalised in Springs and Autumns, it has found a place in the writings of all ages. Women and children alike know that it is a portent of good.

Yet it is reared in no farmyard: it is rarely ever seen throughout the empire's breadth. It is classed under no species. It is not of normal growth like a horse, ox, dog, pig, panther, wolf, or deer. Even were one to appear now, it would not be recognised for what it is.

We see horns, and say, "That is an ox." We see a mane, and say, "That is a horse." And by a similar process we know dogs, pigs, panthers, and deer to be what they are. But the unicorn cannot be known. For Shu-sun to regard it as inauspicious, was therefore reasonable enough. On the other hand, for the unicorn to appear, there should be an All-wise in power: it is in token thereof that the unicorn does appear. Then the All-wise recognises the unicorn, and its manifestation comes in due season.

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