The Human Emperor Chapter 647
Chapter 647: Court Debate
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Third Uncle, Third Uncle!!"
Upon seeing the person behind him, Duan Qian's eyes flew open, his face contorting in shock.
"Imperial Censor Duan!"
"Deputy Imperial Censor1 Duan!"
As they saw the graying imperial censor who had walked in, the people on the sides turned solemn and began to bow. This graying and thin man, energetic despite his age, was none other than Deputy Imperial Censor Duan Cao.
However, Duan Qian had a completely different feeling.
Imperial Censor Duan Cao was not merely a prestigious figure of the Great Tang renowned for his moral rectitude, he was also the head of the Duan Clan. Moreover, he had always been an upright and outspoken individual, never fearing backlash from the officials or nobles. He had been this way since the last government; the previous Emperor, the nobles, and the officials down to the most minor functionary had all suffered his censure.
Even Wang Chong's grandfather, the prestigious Duke Jiu, had been the target of his criticisms.
The current status of the Great Tang's imperial censors was inextricably linked to Duan Cao.
It was also because of him that the Duan Clan was hailed as a clan of imperial censors.
It had been out of admiration for this third uncle that Duan Qian had chosen to enter politics and become an imperial censor. From a certain perspective, Duan Cao was also his teacher. Duan Cao had taught him everything he knew about the laws of the court.
Duan Cao had been conferred a token by the previous Emperor that allowed him to enter the court whenever he pleased. Only this Deputy Imperial Censor possessed this right.
"Little brat, I knew that you would end up being used. You only learned a little about how to be an imperial censor before you began to show off. I said a long time ago that your learning was shallow and wouldn't be of much use. This time, when Young Master Wang Chong achieved such incredible merits in the southwest and His Majesty wanted to reward him, I just knew that you would be used by others, and what do I see!"
Duan Cao's rage was on full display, his fingers pinching hard on Duan Qian's ears, causing yelps of pain to issue from Duan Qian's mouth. However, the most humiliating thing to Duan Qian was that everyone was watching. His entire neck went red from the shame.
But even so, Duan Qian did not strike back. Elders needed to be respected. Such was the etiquette of the Great Tang, so no matter how dissatisfied Duan Qian was, he did not resist. Otherwise, if he disrespected his elders, he could put aside any thought of remaining in the court.
"Old censor, let him go, let him go!"
"If you continue to twist, Imperial Censor Duan's ear might be pulled off."
"Hmph, let him continue. We can't teach him, but the old censor might!"
The court was in chaos. There were some in favor of having the old censor let go while there were others in favor of coldly watching on. The Imperial Court had its laws, and though they could not do anything about Duan Qian's dogged pursuit of Wang Chong, Duan Cao could.
Duan Cao was both old and respected, and no one could object to him disciplining his successor.
"Duan Cao, what are you doing? This is the Imperial Court. Have you really come to treat this place as your Duan Clan's ancestral hall? What's your purpose here by making such a racket?"
The ashen-faced King Qi could finally no longer keep watching Duan Qian being abused.
Hearing King Qi's words, Duan Qian remembered where he was and broke free of Duan Cao's hands, his face red as he argued, "Third Uncle, the Imperial Court has its laws. As imperial censors, we should uphold these laws. Laws do not tolerate personal feelings. The Son of Heaven will be punished for his crimes in the same way as the common people. Whether it is the sovereign above or the people below, anyone who defies the laws of the court should be pointed out and their wrongs redressed. Isn't this what Third Uncle taught me?"
Duan Qian looked straight at his third uncle, his gaze firm and unyielding.
Imperial censors were resolute, and not even his third uncle could make him yield.
Before Duan Qian could continue, the old censor gave him a hefty slap.
Cries of alarm came from all around, even from the ministers who supported Wang Chong's side in this debate. Wang Chong's big uncle, Wang Gen, who had remained on the sidelines so as to not appear biased, also raised his head in surprise. No one had expected the old censor to take such strong action.
Duan Qian's face turned red as he held his swollen cheek. He was utterly stupefied, disbelief covering his face.
"Duan Cao, you old boor, you think that with your age and the iron ticket that the previous Emperor conferred on you, you can do as you please in the court? Someone, come and take him away!"
King Qi was fuming.
It had taken him no small effort to finally convince Duan Qian to speak on his behalf. He could not permit Duan Cao to ruin his plans.
"Hmph, Your Highness King Qi, if a child of the Duan Clan won't listen, is it wrong for me to discipline someone of my own clan? As an elder, I have a duty to teach. Not even the Sage Emperor would refuse me on this. Does Your Highness King Qi have an objection?"
Even when facing a member of the imperial household, Duan Cao was fearless. He had even censured the previous Emperor of the Great Tang, so why would he care about some trifling King Qi?
King Qi was furious, yet he could do nothing.
Ignoring King Qi, Duan Cao turned back to the stunned Duan Qian. "Do you know why I hit you?
"I said back then that you only had a superficial knowledge of the path of the imperial censor, barely knowing anything worth knowing. But you didn't believe me, didn't listen to my advice, and insisted on entering the court. Now, let me ask you: why must we censure all the officials and nobles of the court, His Majesty included?"
"To protect the laws of the Imperial Court!"
Duan Qian was still gripping his cheek, but his answer came quickly.
"I only give you three points for this answer. The nobles and officials all wield great power. Their every action is watched by countless people. Any random decision from them can leave countless people starving and homeless. Such great influence means that we must keep a close eye on them. The moment they step out of line, we censure them.
"And if His Majesty, the Son of Heaven, is out of line, we must promptly advise him and help His Majesty become a wise Son of Heaven. Upholding the laws of the court is only secondary. Ensuring the correctness of the world and maintaining the prosperity of the country is our true duty as imperial censors!!
"If you do not understand this principle, then you will forever be only capable of scraping the surface of what it means to be an imperial censor!
"That youngest son of the Wang Clan has no rank or title. According to the rules of the Imperial Court, it is simply impossible to promote him. When I heard at home that the court was discussing this matter, I just knew that this matter would become the weakness that people in the court would exploit. And given your stubborn pedantry, I just knew that someone would use you.
"The way of the imperial censor rests in redressing the wrongs against the state. Censuring the youngest son of the Wang Clan provides no benefits to the country. In contrast, recommending that child is of benefit to the court, the state, and the Great Tang, so why should we be restricted by the laws of the court?
"In the final years of the Sui when all the powers were fighting for the throne, why was it that the Great Tang's Gaozu was able to rise above the rest? Why was His Majesty the Sage Emperor able to drive off all the foreign kingdoms attacking from all sides? Was it not because they appointed people based on their merit and deeds?"
These words from the Deputy Imperial Censor were like thunder in the ears, striking everyone in the hall dumb. Even the stubborn Duan Qian was left speechless, his mouth agape.
The duty of the imperial censor was to maintain the laws of the Imperial Court. This was a concept that had been engraved into his mind.
But Duan Cao's words had completely overturned Duan Qian's convictions!
The old censor's eyes were currently cold, and he no longer paid any attention to his stunned descendant.
"I don't care what the rest of you think about this child. I, Duan Cao, will simply state that the Imperial Court must reward any merit. That child has achieved so much that no one should think about using schemes to strip him of his rewards I wholeheartedly recommend this child of the Wang Clan! Even if no one else supports him, even if all of you oppose, I will definitely support him!!"
His last words were bellowed out, the rage clear in his voice.
He didn't care about ordinary court debates or factional disputes, but that child had expended his entire fortune, had made such a great contribution. If the fact that he had no official rank were used to create trouble for him, wouldn't that bitterly disappoint the people of the world, the people of the southwest?
He had been an imperial censor for too long for anyone to throw sand in his eyes. Anyone who dared to try and play tricks in this matter was someone he would not let pass.
"All of you are valued ministers of the Imperial Court. At a time like this, I trust that none of you are influenced by selfish motives to make trouble for that child. King Qi, what say you?"
The old censor suddenly turned to King Qi.
While King Qi was normally brash and arrogant, the old censor's menacing and unyielding eyes caused his resolve to waver. He subconsciously turned his head, not daring to meet the censor's gaze.
The old censor's gaze began to sweep over the gathered ministers, but not a single one of them dared to meet his gaze. A few people who had originally objected to rewarding Wang Chong began to mumble, averting their gazes as they inadvertently grunted their approval.
"I request His Majesty's divine judgment!"
Only after the old censor had swept his gaze over the officials from the Bureau of Rites did he finally turn around. His expression solemn, he turned toward that figure behind the curtain, deep within the hall, and gave a reverential bow.
"I request His Majesty's divine judgment!"
At this moment, all the officials lowered their heads. Even King Qi and Yao Guangyi had to bow.
Silence reigned behind the curtains, but after a few moments, an august and resounding voice, as brilliant as the noon sun, rang out through the hall.
"We have made a decision. Inform Wang Chong to attend court three days from now!"
This voice rumbled like thunder!
With the Sage Emperor having given his order, a decree was quickly sent out beyond the palace walls and toward the Wang Clan Residence.
"Given your enormous achievements in the southwest, the important ministers of court, even King Qi, Yao Guangyi, and Abusi, found it inconvenient to speak out. As for me and the other officials, we didn't speak out to avoid appearing biased. Thus, the opinions of those imperial censors were critical.
"In this court debate, if Imperial Censor Duan Cao had not shown up, I wouldn't be able to predict how big the ruckus would be."
In the Wang Clan Residence, Wang Gen was sitting upright, looking at his nephew, finding himself more reassured and pleased the more he looked. That naughty, sloppy, incompetent, and disobedient child of the Wang Clan had suddenly reversed course, becoming a pillar of the state, the Qilin son of the Wang Clan. Wang Gen had never anticipated this.
1. The position of was that of deputy to the head of the censorate, the . They supervised all imperial censors. In the Tang Dynasty, this position seems to have held a great deal of weight, as there are multiple cases where someone holding the position of Deputy Imperial Censor was later appointed to the position of Prime Minister.