Joy of Life - Chapter 383[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:44]
Chapter 383: The Matter Of The Ministry Of Revenue (1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Although the Emperor’s gaze only lightly brushed by Fan Jian, it was noted by many of the people in court. Because of that 20 million liang of silver, Fan Xian, far away in Jiangnan, had pulled his official reputation in a terrifying stage, and the Emperor probably liked it.
Were they still going to investigate the deficit of the Ministry of Revenue? The silver from the Jiangnan palace treasury was enough to cover everything. If they investigated the Ministry of Revenue at this time, would it look like they were not giving Fan Xian enough face?
The officials knew the Ministry of Revenue would have to be investigated because the rumors about the deficit of the Ministry of Revenue had already flown around for a long time. Although it was unfounded, and might not be without reason, the emptiness of the national treasury around the beginning of the year seemed to faintly prove this point. If this matter was not cleared up, the court politics of Qing Kingdom would not stand firm. However, investigating was one matter. When to investigate needed a wise mind to decide.
Fan Xian had done a great service. If these officials immediately jumped out to accuse Fan Jian, it seemed a bit unreasonable. They also didn’t know what the Emperor thought of this.
No matter what, they needed someone to take the lead. When the court quieted down a bit, an official rose, bowed to the ground, and reported to the Emperor regarding the deficit of the Ministry of Revenue. His words were firm, as if all the money was missing from the national treasury had been noted by him. No one knew where this official had gotten his confidence.
The Emperor’s intentions were unclear. Listening to the official’s words, he furrowed his brows and nodded his head. For a moment, the officials did not know whether or not the Emperor wanted to investigate.
The officials did not dare to stare at the Emperor’s expression, so they secretly swung their gazes toward the Minister of the Ministry of Revenue, Fan Jian, in the ranks. They saw he had a serious expression, with a hint of contentment in his solemness. They couldn’t help admiring the man’s breathing techniques.
“The matter of the Ministry of Revenue…after discussion in the royal study, an edict will be sent down.”
After the Emperor finished saying this coldly, he announced a dismissal of the court conference. With a brush of his dragon robe, he disappeared behind the windscreen.
The officials walked toward the exit of the hall. They couldn’t resist whispering along the way, guessing at what the Emperor was truly thinking in his heart.
That afternoon, in the not somewhat small royal study below the dragon bed, there were drum-shaped stools. A few scholars of the Hall of Governmental Affairs, Yan Hangshu from the Ministry of Appointments, an official from the Supreme Court, and Minister of Works were all present. Beside the dragon bed were the Crown Prince, Great Prince, and Second Prince. Like in previous years, their hands were hanging, and they stood respectfully.
The Emperor sat on the flat bed and calmly flipped through the memorials the officials had handed up. From last night, there had been a continuous stream of officials who had begun to write on the matter of the deficit of the Ministry of Revenue as well as officials using national funds. Only, the powerful had been taken out of their sails today in court by the banknote Fan Xian had sent. The Emperor also had not allowed the hundreds of officials to debate the matter in the court.
Sitting on the stools, Shu the Scholar and Hu the Scholar secretly met each other’s eyes. They knew the Emperor had placed the matter of investigating the Ministry of Revenue in the royal study to discuss for the purpose of leaving the Minister of Revenue, Fan Jian, some face. Only…why was Minister Fan not in the royal study today? If the Emperor had the intention of protecting the Fan family, he should have allowed him to explain himself.
The two Scholars’ were a bit nervous. Looking at the Emperor’s arrangement, it seemed a bit different than what they had imagined. The deficit of the Ministry of Revenue looked like it was true and not another little trick the Emperor has played. It seemed like Minister Fan was really about to be pushed into the heart of the struggle.
“Fan Jian has reported in sick.”
Seeming to have guessed what the officials were guessing, the Emperor had not yet raised his head. He spoke in a quiet voice, but it was difficult for his quiet voice to hide a faint anger.
The officials gave a pained smile. The thought the head housekeeper of the Qing court was a strange one. Every time he ran into someone in the court accusing him, he never did anything. He never bothered with any aligning of the factions. He didn’t even disdain to enter the Palace to explain himself. He only had this one simple move and used illness as an excuse.
Minister Fan’s daring seemed like it wasn’t as small as people had always thought.
“Each speak your mind.” The Emperor tossed aside the memorial in his hands. “What are your thoughts on the Ministry of Revenue?”
The expressions of these elders, who were the backbone of the Qing court, were calm. Their eyes were on their nose, and their noses were on their hearts. They all refused to be the first to jump out and offend the Fan family. Speaking from the point of court interest, they all believed that the Ministry of Revenue should be investigated, however, they all had good relations with Fan Jian. Since it was the entire court that suspected the Ministry of Revenue, there had to be someone who wouldn’t be able to resist speaking out.
Unexpectedly, everyone’s powers of meditation were good. After a moment, no one had opened their mouths. The royal study sank into a kind of awkward silence.
The Crown Prince watched this strange scene and couldn’t resist laughing in his heart, thinking, These officials only wanted stability, but they don’t know that this kind of action would only make father more and more unhappy in his heart.
This moment was the time for him to sell a favor. He quickly coughed and looked at Shu the Scholar for a bit.
Shu the Scholar also found the situation to be slightly strange. The Emperor had asked a question, yet none of them had dared to answer. Where did they expect the Emperor to put himself? He quickly opened his mouth and said, “Your Majesty…”
He only had time to say these two words before the anger the Emperor had suppressed had already exploded out. He berated, “The memorials to investigate the Ministry of Revenue all written by you!”
He picked up the memorial beside him and waved it in the air, angrily rebuking, “And at this time, the ones putting on a dead bird expression is also you! What use does the court have for all you closed-mouth gourds?”
The officials in the royal study all responded fearfully. They quickly left their seats and bowed, admitting to their faults and smiling bitterly.
The Emperor had some white-fungus soup, which slightly calmed the fire of anger in his chest. He huffed coldly and waved his hand to have them sit.
Since the Emperor had become angry, the direction of the wind was obvious.
Shu the Scholar had a good relationship with the Fan manor, but he felt he was wholeheartedly working for the public good. He didn’t have any personal hatred toward Minister Fan, and he didn’t wish for others to use this opportunity of investigating the Ministry of Revenue to attack the Fan manor. So, he took the lead and said, “The matter of the Ministry of Revenue is an important one. It is where the court’s financial affairs are located. Each year’s expenses come from the treasury of the Ministry of Revenue. Although I don’t know where the recent rumors have come from or from where the Imperial Censorate learned that the deficit of the Ministry of Revenue was so large, since there is this reason, it must be investigated. It will be up to Your Majesty as to how it should be investigated.”
Shu the Scholar considered his words and then smiled slightly. “All these years, Minister Fan has managed the Ministry of Revenue. Although he was the assistant minister a few years ago, because the old minister was always confined by illness to his bed, all of the matters in the Ministry were led by him. It must be noted that each matter of the Ministry of Revenue is tedious, so the officials have neglected their importance. When managing the Ministry of Revenue, it is difficult to make contributions but too easy for things to go wrong. In the end, it is a bitter assignment with bitter work. In all these years Sir Fan has managed the Ministry of Revenue, although he has made no contributions, he has also had no mishaps, and that is already a huge contribution to the court. I hope that Your Majesty will be considerate of Sir Fan’s hard work and contributions, and be lenient. Even if investigated, it would not do to take it lightly.”
After these words, everyone knew where Shu Wu stood. The Ministry of Revenue had to be investigated, but it could not become a mess. The Crown Prince laughed coldly in his heart. Shu the Scholar had reasoned well with these parts. Since it was unknown where the rumor had come from, he was suggesting that even if the Ministry of Revenue had a deficit, perhaps it was someone in the court who wanted to use the opportunity.
Hu the Scholar nodded his head and agreed, “It must be investigated.”
The Emperor’s face was calm. He asked the Minister of Works, “What about you?”
A trickle of cold sweat ran down the Minister of Work’s back and he gave a pained smile. “These two years the Ministry of Works have done things by Your Majesty’s edict and regulations of the Hall of Governmental affairs. When moving silver to the Ministry of Revenue, it never goes smoothly…but the public will not affect the private. I don’t believe that the Ministry of Revenue is purposely making things difficult for the subordinates in my department. Perhaps the Ministry of Revenue did have trouble with the cash flow.”
It was a devastating criticism. If the Ministry of Revenue did not have a deficit, how could it have cash flow problems?
Shortly following that, the Minister of Appointments, Yan Hangshu, made clear his stance and attitude toward the matter. He was responsible for testing officials and the appointment and dismissal of officials. He recommended the Emperor to investigate. If there was a problem, there should be punishment. If there was no problem, it would reduce the pressure on the Ministry of Revenue.
The Emperor grew tired of hearing these evasive words from his officials. He furrowed his brows and used his finger to gently knock on the table on the bed before pointing to a few thin memorials. “Memorials from Jiangnan, have a look.”
Eunuch Yao quietly went forward, received the memorials, and passed them among the officials’ hands.
For a while, all that could be heard in the royal study were the sounds of the officials flipping through the memorials and their gradually deeper breaths.
After a long time, they finally finished reading all of the memorials. They raised their heads with shock on the faces. Shu Wu and Hu the Scholar met each other’s eyes and quickly twisted their heads away. Neither had hidden the deep concern in their hearts if what was written in the memorials was true, Minister Fan’s daring…was too big.
“The Imperial Censor Guo Zheng reports, in the matter of the palace treasury bidding, Fan Xian chose a puppet named Xia to rig it. At the same time, he provided large amounts of silver for Xia to enter the doors of the palace treasury. On one hand, he had Xia take six of the lots going North. On the other hand, he clashed with the royal merchants and forcefully raised this year’s bidding.”
The Emperor’s calm voice once again rang out. He was as cold as if this matter had absolutely nothing to do with him.
“Guo Zheng has suspicions about where the large amounts of silver Fan Xian had come from.”
The Emperor gazed at the various officials and smiled coldly, “I…am also suspicious. We will first put aside the matter of Fan Xian allowing his subordinate to compete with the royal merchants, but which of you can tell me, this much silver, where did he get it from?”
Shu Su’s throat felt dry, and he couldn’t really speak. Only now did he understand why so many officials were sure that the Ministry of Revenue’s deficit was such a large amount. Turns out it was because of Jiangnan. The Emperor’s meaning was clear. Fan Xian was able to completely control the situation of the palace treasury opening bid, and his subordinate to secretly control six of the lots heading North, because of the enormous amount of silver in this matter. It was probably…from the Ministry of Revenue, transferred from his father’s hand.
The officials were silent. This time, it was not because they were afraid of offending Minister Fan, rather they were still lost in the shock. Looking at the inscription on the memorial, it should have arrived at the Palace last night. The Emperor would have known earlier that in the palace treasury bidding, Fan Xian had used some shady methods. But the Emperor’s joy earlier in the court conference had not been an act. The Emperor’s silent endurance. His deep plans and distant thoughts were not something the officials could guess at. Perhaps the Emperor very much liked Fan Xian earning money for him, but he didn’t like Fan Xian using the court’s silver to earn money for him?
The court’s silver could only be touched by the Emperor. No one could use it without permission. It looked like this time the Fan family had rubbed the Emperor the wrong way. In the silence, the Second Prince, who had only been allowed back into the royal study to listen at the side in February, smiled slightly and said, “Father, I am something to say.”
“Speak.” The Emperor said coldly.
A slight and calm smile rose to the Second Prince’s gentle face. He bowed to the officials and said in a quiet voice, “Commissioner Fan and I have some resentment between us, but I dare not let that stop me from expressing my opinion. I believe, since Fan Xian is far away in Jiangnan with the identity as an imperial envoy, naturally there is no one to hold him back. His orders to his subordinates to steal the court’s silver for his own use is a big crime. The Ministry of Revenue privately transferring national funds to Jiangnan is almost rebellion.”
He was setting the tone. Everyone knew that he was targeting the Fan family, but no one was able to refute anything.
The Great Prince, who had yet to speak, suddenly opened his mouth and said, “The Jiangnan Censor Guo Zheng has an old grudge against Fan Xian. Back in the day, he had almost been punched by Fan Xian in the main hall of the Ministry of Justice.”
After saying this, he did not continue to speak.
Shu the Scholar listened to this, thinking, That’s right, we must grasp this opportunity, otherwise if it is really as Guo Zheng said, not only will the Ministry of Revenue be in a big mess, Fan Xian in Jiangnan will also not have a good ending. If both sides descend into chaos, who knew how many heads would fall to the ground? The Qing court could not endure such a big upheaval again.
He quickly followed the Great Prince’s words and smiled, “Your Majesty, about Guo Zheng. I am not afraid of my words being insolent, but I have to say one more thing. This person strives to achieve extraordinary things and acts rashly. Last year, he was demoted to Jiangnan by Your Majesty. It is difficult to say that he would not frame Fan Xian because of his old grudge and purposely exaggerate this matter.”
When the words “old grudge” were said, no one could resist glancing toward the Second Prince, whom Fan Xian had the oldest grudge against. Although the Second Prince’s face maintained a clear and slight smile, his face was starting to heat up. He glanced at the Great Prince with hidden bitterness. Since his youth, he had been close to the Great Prince, he didn’t understand why today his big brother had to stand on the side of that bastard.