Peace Prevails When The Virtuous Govern, Chaos Follows When The Unethical Rule (1 of 2)
2016-12-31
Peace Prevails When The Virtuous Govern, Chaos Follows When The Unethical Rule (1 of 2)
 
Two events, "Kaiyuan Prosperous Era" and "An Shi Rebellion," during the era of Emperor Tang Xuanzong (685 – 762 AD) are memorable historical events, because they are prime examples of "peace prevails when the virtuous govern, and chaos follows when the unethical rule."
 
Tang Xuanzong, who was named Li Longji at birth, had great ideas and lofty aspirations when he was young. He was elected crown prince after he put an end to Empress Wei's attempt to assume power. As soon as he took the throne, he eliminated the despotic and domineering Princess Taiping and her followers. He reversed the sentencing of people who were wrongly accused. Furthermore, he changed his reign title to "Kaiyuan," which meant to start a new era, to show his determination to achieve great accomplishments and revive the glory of the Tang dynasty.
 
At the time, the royal court was riddled with chaos and corruption. Therefore, Tang Xuanzong wanted to employ virtuous and talented people, especially for the prime minister position. It is said that he had "an eye for recognizing virtuous prime ministers." Many famous prime ministers, such as Yao Chong, Song Jin, Zhang Jiuling, and Han Xiu, were personally selected by Emperor Xuanzong.
 
Yao Chong was very decisive. Because he made ten very valuable suggestions, he was highly regarded by Emperor Xuanzong and became the prime minister. The ten suggestions included encouraging advice by officials, rewarding righteous officials and firm punishment for those who exploited their positions of power. Tang Xuanzong effectively implemented all of Yao Chong's suggestions.
 
After Yao Chong, Song Jin was made prime minister. He also placed great importance on selecting the right talent. Although he held great power, he never abused the law for personal reasons. On the contrary, his requirements for his relatives were more strict than for other people. One time, his distant uncle was a candidate for a position in the Ministry of Personnel. The uncle mentioned to the chief proctor about his relationship with Song Jin, and hoped that the chief proctor would favor him. When Song Jin heard about this incident, he instructed the official not to hire his uncle.
 
Tang Xuanzong not only recognized virtuous talents, but also respected them. Yao Chong and Song Jin were both devoted public servants. Similar to how his predecessors treated famous officials in the early Tang Dynasty such as Fang Xualing and Duhui, every time Tang Xuanzong called Yao Chong and Song Jin, he rose up to receive them. And when they left, he walked to the door to see them off. One can see how respectful Tang Xuanzong was to virtuous officials.
 
Zhang Jiuling was called the "commoners’ prime minister." He was selected by Tang Xuanzong because of his outstanding personal character and talent. Once Zhang Jiuling became the prime minister, like Tang Xuanzong, he placed great importance on a person's character rather than his background. He continuously advocated for fair selection of talent based on personal character. When Tang Xuanzong made mistakes, Zhang Jiuling immediately pointed them out and corrected him. Zhang Jiuling did not conceal the truth because Tang Xuanzong appreciated his talent and treated him well.
 
During the early period of his reign, Emperor Tang Xuanzong recognized talents, treated them well, and was very respectful of the wise. Therefore, he was surrounded by many competent and wise officials. At the time, the government administration was uncorrupted and just, society was stable, and the country was very prosperous. The Tang Dynasty entered its most flourishing period and was thus called "Kaiyuan Prosperous Era." History books noted that the "Kaiyuan Era" was a time where "Prosperity and abundance existed in across the country and rice prices were cheap. There were stores on every street that offered food and wine." It was an era when "courier stations kept donkeys, so that one could travel long distances and need not depend on foot soldiers (to carry the messages)." The poet, Du Fu, wrote in his poem, "Yi Xi" (or "Remembering the Past"): "Remembering the prosperous days of the Kaiyuan Era, even a small town had ten thousand households. The rice was plump, and the corn was white. Private and public granaries had ample stocks."
 
In the latter part of his reign, Tang Xuanzong became arrogant, liked hearing flattery, and sought a comfortable life. He favored and entrusted disloyal and cunning officials such as Li Linfu and Yang Guozhong. This finally led to the "An Shi Rebellion (755 – 763 AD)," thus ending the magnificent and prosperous era.
 
Li Linfu was very good at guessing Tang Xuanzong's thoughts. One time, Tang Xuanzong wanted to go back to Chang'an from Luoyang. However, Prime Minister Zhang Jiuling and others were against the idea, citing the Emperor would interrupt people's work along the road and affect their harvesting as the autumn harvest was not over. After Zhang Jiuling left, Li Linfu said to Tang Xuanzong: "Your Majesty, Chang'an is your East Palace and Luoyang is your West Palace. Your majesty should be able to come and go as you please, and not wait until the harvest is over. If we interrupt people's autumn harvest, then we just waive their taxes." Tang Xuanzong was quite happy after hearing that and traveled as planned. He trusted Li Linfu more and more. Li Linfu schemed and brought false charges against Zhang Jiuling and others. Eventually, Tang Xuanzong dismissed all the prime ministers who were honest and upright, and named Li Linfu prime minister.




得贤则安 失贤则乱 ()
 
唐玄宗时代的「开元盛世」与「安史之乱」是历史上「得贤则安,失贤则乱」的一个典型事例。
 
唐玄宗李隆基,少年时就有大志,一言一行很有主见,因平定韦氏之乱被立为太子。即位后,他首先果断的铲除了专权跋扈的太平公主及其党羽,并平反冤假错案,把年号改为开元,表明自己励精图治,再创唐朝伟业的决心。
 
他针对当时的吏治混乱、朝政腐败,表示要任人唯贤,提拔贤人做宰相。人们都说他「慧眼识贤相」,如著名的宰相姚崇、宋璟、张九龄、韩休都是他亲自选拔任用的。
 
姚崇办事果断,他因为向唐玄宗提出了十条建议而被器重,做了宰相。十条建议包括了广开言路、奖励正直大臣、勿以权谋私等,唐玄宗基本上都按照姚崇的建议执行了。
 
姚崇之后是宋璟,他也很重视对人才的选拔任用,虽然他掌握朝政大权,但他决不徇私枉法,相反,对自己的亲属还更加严格的要求。一次,他的远房叔叔在参加吏部的选拔时,对主考官说了自己和宋璟的特殊关系,希望能予以照顾。这事被宋璟得知后,不但没有为他说话,反而特地关照吏部不给他官做。
 
唐玄宗既知贤,也敬贤。姚崇、宋璟一心向公,唐玄宗视之如同唐初名臣房玄龄、杜如晦,每次晋见,唐玄宗都要站起来相迎;离去时,则要离门相送,其敬贤之心由此可见一斑。
 
张九龄人称「布衣宰相」,他也是凭借着自己出众的品德和才华被唐玄宗相中。张九龄为相之后,也像唐玄宗那样看重人品而不是看其背景。他一直主张要公正选才,重在品德。同时,对于唐玄宗的过错,他也及时指出,加以劝谏,不因为其对自己有知遇之恩就隐瞒实情。
 
唐玄宗前期,由于知人善任,礼贤有加,在他的周围聚集起大批贤能之士,这时政治清明,社会安定,经济空前繁荣,唐朝进入鼎盛时期,后人称这一时期为「开元盛世」。史称开元年间「海内富实,米斗之价钱十三。道路列肆,具酒食以待行人。店有驿驴,行千里不持尺兵。」诗人杜甫在《忆昔》中写道:「忆昔开元全盛日,小邑犹藏万家室。稻米流脂粟米白,公私仓廪俱丰实。」
 
唐玄宗后期,骄傲起来,越来越爱听阿谀逢迎之词,贪图享乐,宠信并重用李林甫、杨国忠等奸臣,终于导致安史之乱发生,盛世辉煌不再。
 
李林甫最善于揣测唐玄宗的意思。一次,唐玄宗想从洛阳回长安,但宰相张九龄等人说秋收还没有结束,这样上路会骚扰百姓,影响生产。李林甫在张九龄走后却对唐玄宗说,长安和洛阳是陛下的东宫和西宫,陛下愿意甚么时候来往就甚么时候来往,不必再等以后,至于妨碍了农民秋收,免了他们的税收就行了。唐玄宗很高兴,照计而行,越来越信任他。李林甫就找机会诬陷张九龄等人,终于使唐玄宗将这些敢于直言的宰相罢官,由他当了宰相。
    来源: 看中国 责编: Kitt

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