Chapter 27: Using Phytons to select talents…
Xu Miaojin arrived quickly, as she was originally in the harem, keeping Ma Enhui company.
After entering the side hall, Xu Miaojin slightly bent her knees as a gesture of respect, then went directly to Zhu Yunwen and called for Shuangxi to prepare tea. Shuangxi knew that this young lady was not someone to offend, so she promptly attended to her.
“Brother Emperor, are you satisfied with the talents I found?” Xu Miaojin asked proudly.
Zhu Yunwen smiled faintly, glanced at the memorials on the table, and said, “Whether these individuals are useful or not, it is up to them to prove. I’m just curious, how did you manage to accomplish this?”
Zhu Yunwen was aware that no one from the Imperial Academy had cooperated with Xu Miaojin. After all, the students of the Imperial Academy were quasi-government officials, and they couldn’t afford to collaborate with a young girl.
Zhu Yunwen was well aware of the incidents where Xu Miaojin was constantly being laughed at by the Imperial Academy. However, in Zhu Yunwen’s view, it wasn’t a bad idea to let Xu Miaojin liven up the monotonous life at the Imperial Academy, Living a lively and busy life can actually be quite good.
To prevent her from developing the notion of “finding solace in solitude, detached from worldly glory and wealth,” it would be a waste of life for such an extraordinary woman to enter the monastery, spending her days in meditation and devotion.
Wouldn’t it be better for her to shine and make great achievements in the field of education for women in the Ming Dynasty, creating a legendary legacy?
Xu Miaojin took a sip of tea and said with a playful smile, “I have plenty of ways. Li Zhigang is resourceful, Guo Lian has a wide network, and Wang Huai is courageous and valiant… If Brother Emperor values them, they will certainly achieve great feats.”
“Haha, you spent over a month meticulously selecting and screening and finally came up with ten names. If I don’t make use of them, wouldn’t it disappoint you? Very well, let Li Zhigang become Junior Historiography Compiler in the Hanlin Academy, Guo Lian as Secretary of the Bureau of Evaluations in the Ministry of Personnel, and Wang Huai enter the Bureau of Military appointments in the Ministry of War…”
Zhu Yunwen directly appointed ten students from the Imperial Academy.
Seeing Zhu Yunwen acting swiftly and decisively, Xu Miaojin was also taken aback and quickly asked, “Brother Emperor, won’t you observe and assess these individuals anymore?”
“I trust you,” Zhu Yunwen said earnestly.
Xu Miaojin looked at Zhu Yunwen, her eyes showing some changes. It turned out that he truly believed in her, believed that she could accomplish great things and contribute her utmost to the Ming Dynasty.
“Have you seen enough?” Zhu Yunwen asked, thinking that there might be cinnabar powder on his face as Xu Miaojin kept staring at him.
Xu Miaojin quickly lowered her head, her face slightly blushing, and said, “What about the Women’s Academy?”
Zhu Yunwen nodded slightly and said, “The Women’s Academy needs to be established, of course. But are you prepared?”
Xu Miaojin looked up at Zhu Yunwen, only to see a serious expression on his face.
No one cared about women’s education.
Xu Miaojin understood this deeply. She was fortunate because she had been cherished by her brothers and had learned some knowledge. But women from some noble families could only recognize a few characters and barely understand account books. If conditions allowed, they might even learn poetry and cultivate their sentiments.
However, knowledge of governance and the world was not something men allowed women to learn. Even if they did learn, they couldn’t speak about it or discuss it.
Women are not allowed to participate in politics, and this rule applies not only in the palace but also in noble households.
Even if she were to marry a nobleman in the future, she cannot violate this rule. It would be best for her to pretend to be foolish and ignorant when her husband talks about matters, or better yet, actually be a fool.
Because there is nothing to say.
Because our words don’t match.
Because even words of concern could be wrong.
By then, she would only be left with solitude and coldness, day after day, repeating a numbness like a walking corpse, without personal emotions or thoughts.
Xu Miaojin doesn’t want to live such a life, nor does she want countless women to live such a life.
However, this is an insurmountable mountain!
She alone cannot overcome it!
Even if Zhu Yunwen nodded, it may not be possible to implement it truly because the Grand Secretariat will oppose it, the Six Ministries will oppose it, and all officials will oppose it!
And by then, she would be facing almost all the power in the court alone!
Can she bear it?
But Xu Miaojin knows that if she retreats now, the Women’s Academy may never be able to appear again! And the door for women to change their fate will be completely closed!
Is it worth taking such great risks for those unrelated people?
Xu Miaojin’s eyes went from uneasy to determined as she said, “I need time. I, Xu Miaojin, will definitely establish the Women’s Academy!”
“Haha, good!” Zhu Yunwen looked at Xu Miaojin with satisfaction and said, “Then let’s do it at the beginning of next year. Three months of preparation should be enough, right?”
Xu Miaojin nodded repeatedly and said, “It’s enough. Thank you, Brother Emperor.”
“Let’s go, back to the palace. Today, I invite you to a meal, but you need to tell me how you selected these talented individuals…”
“Hehe, if I tell you, Brother Emperor, you must not get angry…”
During lunch, Xu Miaojin explained the way she selected talents to Zhu Yunwen and Ma Enhui. Zhu Yunwen nodded repeatedly, and Ma Enhui dropped her chopsticks in surprise several times.
Xu Miaojin grasped the arrogance and contempt of the Imperial Academy scholars and directly told everyone that no one except her could solve this problem.
This infuriated many people, and they decided to take action and “teach a lesson” to Xu Miaojin.
But that was just the beginning. What shocked Ma Enhui the most was that Xu Miaojin, in order to test the bravery of the scholars, locked them in a room and…
Threw a python in.
Ma Enhui felt that the meal wasn’t appetizing anymore. Just imagine the terrifying scene of a group of people looking at the python, screaming in horror. Some possibly faint from fear, and what if it bites someone…
“It won’t bite. Its teeth have been removed.”
Xu Miaojin explained.
Ma Enhui secretly prayed for the scholars in the Imperial Academy. If any of them were played to death by Xu Miaojin, there would be nowhere to reason.
However, Zhu Yunwen agreed with Xu Miaojin’s strategies.
Whether one has the courage or not, it will become apparent when they try. Faced with danger, who would be the first to flee, who would stay in place to think of countermeasures, and who would have already taken action.
It’s clear at a glance, and the results are there.
As for the seven or eight people who fainted and kept having nightmares, and the dozen or so who complained to the chancellor, that is an internal matter of the Imperial Academy and has nothing to do with Zhu Yunwen.
Zhu Yunwen looked at the confident and clever Xu Miaojin and said with a smile, “Instructor Xu is diligent and has made achievements in selecting talents. You can be promoted to the position of Proctor of the Disciplinary Office.”
Ma Enhui was somewhat anxious.
Xu Miaojin clearly caused trouble, so why is she being promoted?
Moreover, the Proctor of the Disciplinary Office, being inclined towards discipline and guidance, not only has authority over the management of the students but also has the power to administer punishments to the erudite, instructors, and others. If such power were to be entrusted to Xu Miaojin, wouldn’t it be tantamount to setting the Imperial Academy on fire?
Zhu Yunwen signaled Ma Enhui to relax and said to Xu Miaojin, “It’s decided, but I have one condition.”
“Brother Emperor, you’re not asking me to select talents again, are you?”
Xu Miaojin put down her chopsticks and asked.
Zhu Yunwen nodded slightly and said, “Naturally. Talented individuals are the foundation of the empire. However, in addition to seeking out talents, you also need to observe the Imperial Academy and Identify the ten major shortcomings of the education system in the Imperial Academy..”
“Ten major shortcomings?”
Xu Miaojin and Ma Enhui were both surprised.
How could the Imperial Academy, as the highest educational institution of the Ming Dynasty, have shortcomings?
Zhu Yunwen looked calmly at the two of them and said, “Even the sages know that no one is perfect, so how can the Imperial Academy avoid problems? Find the problems and solve them well, only then can the Imperial Academy truly contribute talented individuals to the court. Otherwise, it will only be empty talk, with officials who rely on past achievements to govern the present. How can the Great Ming Empire be vigorous and create a prosperous era?”
“You will enter the Imperial Academy and, from the methods of education, management, learning, and life, find the problems, and then think of ways to improve them, which you will submit to the Chancellor, the Director of Studies, and me.”
Xu Miaojin quickly stood up and said, “Your Subject understands.”
“also declaring yourself as subject…”
Ma Enhui teased.
Xu Miaojin laughed and said, “Of course, now I am an official of the sixth rank.”
Zhu Yunwen clasped his hands and said, “I’ve met the Proctor of Disciplinary Office.”
“No need for formalities.”
Xu Miaojin waved her hand and suddenly burst into laughter.
Ma Enhui also laughed along with the two of them.
The news of Xu Miaojin’s appointment as the Proctor of Disciplinary office caused a sensation in the Imperial Academy.
In order to establish her own authority and win over the scholars while easing their conflicts, Xu Miaojin publicly announced the appointments of Li Zhigang, Guo Lian, Wang Huai, and seven other scholars made by the Emperor, saying, “Although I, Xu Miao Jin, am a woman, I am wholeheartedly selecting talents for the country. You scholars have studied hard, aren’t you also eager to serve the country? Why do you prioritize my gender over the country’s welfare? It’s like being unable to see Mount Tai while fixating on a falling leaf. Isn’t that what you all are?”
Her words made the scholars of the Imperial Academy blush.
Soon after, one student was publicly caned for failing in his studies.
Xu Miaojin stepped forward and pointed out that caning was not appropriate, as it was a form of insult to the person. She demanded that caning be replaced with the use of a ruler for punishment.
no longer use big sticks on their backsides, but instead use small rulers to hit their palms.
This action won the support of many students in the imperial academy. Xu Miaojin also knew how to leverage the power of the group. They jointly petitioned the Chancellor and eventually succeeded in abolishing the use of corporal punishment in the imperial academy.
With the support of the masses, Xu Miaojin naturally established a firm position in the Imperial Academy and began to explore the educational shortcomings within the academy. At the same time, she managed to find time to reach out to women from other influential families and prepare for the establishment of a women’s academy.
In the afternoon, when Zhu Yunwen returned to Chang’an Palace, holding Zhu Wenkui, he said to Ma Enhui, “During the court session today, it was reported that Li Zengzhi had visited the Department of Music and Entertainment during the period of mourning.”
“Your Majesty, our child is here. Besides, the Department of Music and Entertainment is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Rites. I have no control over it.”
Ma Enhui took the child and cast a reproachful glance at Zhu Yunwen.
The Department of Music and Entertainment was responsible for organizing celebrations, welcoming dignitaries, and overseeing musical performances. It also served as the official brothel, with numerous musicians and female performers, and these female performers were also official courtesans who served the privileged and powerful individuals
Although according to regulations, the female performers in the Department of Music and Entertainment were only meant to entertain and not engage in sexual activities, it was as simple as a flick of the finger for the privileged to obtain a woman devoid of freedom.
For example, by colluding with the officials of the department, they could mention a favored woman and offer a bribe. Then, that woman would mysteriously “die suddenly.”
Once a person died, they would naturally be removed from the department’s roster. As for where the person was taken and whether they were alive or dead, nobody cared.
But Zhu Yunwen cared.