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The Sayings of Confucius.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


AMONGST his own country folk Confucius wore a homely look, like one who has no word to say.
In the ancestral temple and at court his speech was full, but cautious.At court, he talked frankly to men of low rank, winningly to men of high rank.
In the king’s presence he looked intent and solemn.When the king bade him receive guests, his face seemed to change, his knees to bend. He bowed left and right to those beside him, straightened his robes in front and behind, and sped forward, his elbows spread like wings. When the guest had left, he always reported it, saying: “The guest has ceased to look back.”Entering the palace gate he stooped, as though it were too low for him. He did not stand in the middle of the gate, nor step on the threshold.
Passing the throne, his face seemed to change, his knees to bend, he spake with bated breath.
Mounting the dais, he lifted his robes, bowed his back and masked his breathing, till it seemed to stop.
Coming down, his face relaxed below the first step, and bore a pleased look. From the foot of the steps he sped forward, his elbows spread like wings; and when again in his seat he looked intent as before.When bearing the sceptre, his back bent, as under too heavy a burden. He held his hands not higher than in bowing, nor lower than in giving a present. He wore an awed look and dragged his feet, as though they were fettered.
When presenting royal gifts his manner was formal; but he was cheerful at the private audience.This gentleman was never arrayed in maroon or scarlet; even at home he would not don red or purple.
In hot weather he wore unlined linen clothes, but always over other garments.
Over lamb-skin he wore black, over fawn he wore white, over fox-skin he wore yellow. At home he wore a long fur robe, with the right sleeve short.
He always had his nightgown half as long again as his body.
In the house he wore fox or badger skin for warmth.
When out of mourning there was nothing wanting from his girdle.
Except for court dress, he was sparing of stuff.
He did not wear lamb’s fur, or a black, cap, on a visit of condolence.
On the first day of the moon he always went to court in court dress.On fast days he always donned clothes of pale hue, changed his food, and moved from his wonted seat.He did not dislike his rice cleaned with care, nor his hash chopped small.
He did not eat sour or mouldy rice, putrid fish, or tainted meat. Aught discoloured, or high, badly cooked, or out of season, he would not eat. He would not eat what was badly cut, or a dish with the wrong sauce. A choice of meats could not tempt him to eat more than he had a relish for. To wine alone he set no limit, but he did not drink till he got fuddled.
He did not drink bought wine, or eat ready-dried market meat.
Ginger was never missing at table.
He did not eat much.
After sacrifice at the palace he would not keep the meat over night, at home not more than three days. If kept longer it was not eaten.
He did not talk at meals, nor speak when in bed.
Though there were but coarse rice and vegetable soup, he made his offering will all reverence.If his mat were not straight, he would not sit down.When drinking with the villagers, as those with staves left, he left too.
At the village exorcisms he donned court dress, and stood on the eastern steps.When sending inquiries to another land, he bowed twice and saw his messenger out.
On K´ang making him a gift of medicine, he accepted it with a bow, saying: “I do not know it: I dare not taste it.”His stables having been burnt, the Master, on his return from court, said: “Is any one hurt?” He did not ask after the horses.When the king sent him bake-meat, he set his mat straight, and tasted it first. When the king sent him raw meat, he had it cooked for sacrifice. When the king sent a living beast, he had him reared.
When dining in attendance on the king, the king made the offering, Confucius ate of things first.
On the king coming to see him in sickness, he turned his face to the east and had his court dress spread across him, with the girdle over it.
When summoned by the king, he walked, without waiting for his carriage.On entering the Great Temple he asked how each thing was done.When a friend died who had no home to go to, he said: “It is for me to bury him.”
When a friend sent a gift, even of a carriage and horses, he did not bow. He only bowed for sacrificial meat.He did not sleep like a corpse. At home he unbent.
On meeting a mourner, and were he a friend, his face changed. Even in everyday clothes, when he met any one in full dress, or a blind man, his face grew staid.
When he met men in mourning he bowed over the cross-bar; to the census bearers he bowed over the cross-bar.
Before choice meats he rose with changed look. At sharp thunder, or fierce wind, his look changed.In mounting his chariot he stood straight and grasped the cord. When in his chariot he did not look round, speak fast, or point.Seeing a man’s face, she rose, flew round and settled.
The Master said: “Hen pheasant on the ridge, it is the season, it is the season.”
He and Tzu-lu got on the scent thrice and then she rose.