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He has left a lot of spiritual wealth to future generations, as well as a lot of disputes and warnings. His ups and downs and magnificent life make people feel and think.
On November 13, the fifth year of emperor Zhenzong’s heavenly Jubilee (December 18, 1021), Wang Anshi was born in Linchuan, Fuzhou, Jiangnan West Road (now Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province), with the word Jiefu and the name Banshan. He was born in an official family. His grandfather Wang Yongzhi was once the Minister of Weiwei temple. He had more than six grades and was in charge of instruments and cultural relics, the general Arsenal, weapons and the palace guarding department; His father, Wangyi, was a prefectural and county official in Fujian, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Guangdong and other places. He was an official wailang in shangshudu. At least he is an “official of three generations”. Since childhood, he was intelligent, diligent and eager to learn. He read poetry and books and wrote in writing. In the days when he traveled around with his father, he came into contact with the social reality and witnessed the hardships of the people, which laid a solid foundation for him to gallop through the officialdom, the literary world and the crown of the famous thinker, politician, writer and reformer of the Northern Song Dynasty.
He is not like some officials of the second generation who are loafing around, fighting cocks and playing with dogs. At the age of 16, when he went to Beijing with his father, he made friends with Zeng Gong. Zeng Gong recommended his article to Ouyangxiu, who greatly appreciated it. Five years later, at the age of 21, he passed the examination and was awarded Huainan provincial magistrate. From then on, he entered the officialdom where he dreamed of expanding his ambitions but was full of difficulties and thorns. After his term of office in Huainan expired, he voluntarily gave up the opportunity to try to enter the pavilion in Beijing and became a county magistrate in Yinxian County, Zhejiang Province. In the past four years, he has built water conservancy and expanded schools to benefit the people in this position closest to the people. “I am not afraid of floating clouds to cover my eyes, but only because I am at the top.” When he returned to Linchuan’s hometown and passed through Hangzhou at the end of his term of office, he wrote the seven character quatrain “climbing the flying peak”, which not only expressed his excitement and joy, but also expressed his lofty political aspirations, laying the groundwork for the subsequent reform.
When he was appointed as the general judge of Shuzhou (now Anhui Buried Hill), he was still diligent and devoted to the people, with remarkable political achievements. Prime ministers wenyanbo and Ouyangxiu were meritocratic and tried their best to recommend leapfrog promotion to the emperor, but both were politely declined by Wang Anshi on the excuse of his grandmother’s high age. Ouyangxiu was not reconciled. He appointed Wang Anshi as the magistrate of the herd Department on the ground that he must support his family with salary. This shows how much Ouyangxiu valued and respected Wang Anshi. However, with the reform of Wang Anshi, Ouyangxiu stood on the opposite side of Wang Anshi, including Sima Guang and other famous figures.
In the third year of Jiayou’s reign (1058), after Wang Anshi left the post of governor of Changzhou, in early spring and February, he was appointed as the Provincial Judicial director of Jiangdong criminal prison, which not only supervises judicial justice, but also supervises integrity. In October, he returned to Beijing to serve as the judge of the third division. In this unit, which is in charge of national wealth and taxes, he released the ten thousand word “statement of emperor shangrenzong” and pointed out the reality that the country was weak and poor, the economy was in distress, the social atmosphere was corrupt, and the national defense security was worrying, based on his own personal experience of local officials for many years. He systematically put forward reform proposals such as carrying out a comprehensive reform of the laws since the early Song Dynasty, eliminating the disadvantages, reversing the situation of poverty and weakness, reforming and selecting scholars, and paying attention to talents, He also hoped to arouse the vigilance of emperor Renzong with the examples and speeches of Yao, Shun, Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han and Jin, but unexpectedly, Emperor Renzong, who had abolished the “Qingli New Deal” led by fanzhongyan and Ouyangxiu, did not adopt Wang Anshi’s reform ideas.
Renzong, the fourth emperor of the Song Dynasty, reigned for 42 years and was the longest reigning emperor of the Song Dynasty. Although he was not as talented as Taizu of Song Dynasty or as versatile as Huizong of Song Dynasty, he was one of the 18 emperors of Song Dynasty who was famous for his “benevolence”. During his reign, he was kind and kind to his subjects, so that the people could recuperate, know people and make good use of them. There were a large number of famous officials, with brilliant stars. The country was stable and peaceful, the economy was prosperous, and science, technology and culture had been greatly developed. It was known as “benevolent governance”. All of these were also recognized by Wang Anshi in his “a hundred years of nothing in this dynasty” later presented to Shenzong emperor. After Renzong’s death, the whole country mourned and cried. The history of the Song Dynasty once recorded that: “the capital went on strike and cried in the streets for days. Although beggars and children burned paper money and cried in front of the big house.”. After the obituary of his death was sent to the state of Liao, “people in Yan cry wherever they are.” even yeluhongji, the emperor of Liao daozong of the state of Liao, grasped the hand of an emissary of the Song Dynasty and wept bitterly: “he hasn’t known the military revolution for 42 years…. I will build a clothes grave for him to express his grief.” The reason why emperor Renzong did not adopt Wang Anshi’s reform proposal was that he was satisfied with the peaceful situation of the country and the people he governed. It is impossible for a country to be free from malpractices, but even if there are some malpractices, they will not be enough for a big fight; Second, his character. The reform will certainly touch the interests of some people. He, who has always been generous and kind, did not have the heart to start.
Wang Anshi truly realized his dream of reform after Shenzong ascended the throne. In the face of such internal and external troubles as the overstaffed bureaucracy, the financial deficit, the constant harassment of Liao and Xixia, and the aggravation of the people’s taxes and corvee in the Song Dynasty, Shenzong worked hard to “think about eliminating the disadvantages of the past and invigorate the extraordinary achievements”. However, this requires a powerful assistant. The Shenzong has long admired Wang Anshi’s name. He has read his “statement of emperor shangrenzong” and understood his political aspirations and talents. Therefore, a few months after his accession to the throne, Wang Anshi, who refused to join the court on the grounds of serving his mother’s funeral and illness, was appointed governor of Jiangning. During this period, Wang Anshi made a poem “osmanthus twig fragrance · Jinling nostalgia” which has been widely read so far. By reviewing the historical lessons of the Six Dynasties, he metaphorically expressed his dissatisfaction with the social reality of the Northern Song Dynasty and revealed his sense of anxiety in times of peace. A few months later, the Shenzong promoted him to be a academician and lecturer. The respect for Wang Anshi once caused the dissatisfaction of the old ministers in the dynasty. However, he was appointed by the Shenzong to participate in the political affairs and preside over the special organization to formulate and implement the new law. Wang Anshi lived up to the emperor’s expectations, that is, he wrote a letter to the emperor, which comprehensively explained the situation and causes of peace in the Song Dynasty for more than a hundred years, and pointed out that at present, there are many dangerous social problems in many fields, such as politics, economy, military, culture, and the continuous invasion of Liao and Xixia. He believed that the Shenzong “is now at a time of great success.” It is expected that Shenzong will make achievements and revitalize the country. “The incense from the golden stove leaks and the wind is cold. Spring is annoying and sleepless. The moon moves and the shadow of flowers is on the railing.” His political lyric poem “spring night” fully expresses his excitement that he has been appreciated by the Shenzong, that the political spring has come, that he wants to show his great ambitions and that he can’t sleep at night.
In the third year of Xining (1070), Wang Anshi, who held the same position as the prime minister, began to implement the new law nationwide with years of reform dreams, setting off a vigorous wave of reform, with great and wide influence. The fierce debate and struggle between the two factions who supported and opposed the reform can be described as unprecedented. The reform lasted 16 years. Objectively speaking, to a certain extent, it promoted the development of social productive forces, changed the situation of poverty and weakness in the country, strengthened national defense, completely defeated Xixia, reversed the passive situation of the northwest frontier defense that had been defeated repeatedly for a long time, touched the fundamental interests of the big landlord class, reduced the burden on the people, and appeared a thriving scene. In particular, the national finance has been significantly improved. When Shenzong first ascended the throne, “a hundred years’ worth of accumulation can only be kept in an empty book”. After the reform, the national purse has been “hundreds of millions” and “can be used for 20 years”.
However, the reform was not perfect. The untimely implementation of some measures and the bad operation in the actual implementation also damaged the interests of the people to varying degrees. Such as the young crops law, which forces farmers to borrow money, the interest rate is high, and the farmers’ burden is still heavy; Under the law of conscription, households who do not want to serve as officers can pay a certain amount of money according to the level of wealth, but it is a heavy burden on the poor; According to the farmland and water conservancy law, the number of water conservancy projects has gradually become the standard for assessing the performance of officials. Some local governments have forced people to build water conservancy projects, which has also increased the burden on the people. Although some of them were misbehaving in the course of implementation, and were wrongly mouthed and read the Scriptures, fundamentally speaking, this is also inseparable from some of Wang Anshi’s mistakes. He wanted to make the Song Dynasty a fat man, but ignored its digestion ability. The situation of poverty and weakness roughly fell far behind his grand plan. He is not a perfect official, but he is by no means a confused official, nor is he a mediocre official.
In the article “a journey to baochan mountain” written by him in his early years, he realized that “the marvelous, strange and extraordinary views of the world are often in danger”. To see the “marvelous, strange and extraordinary views”, he must have the spirit of fearing difficulties and dangers, firm will, forging ahead bravely and climbing to the top, as well as sufficient strength and external conditions to rely on; He also knew that “if the reform is carried out slowly, it will be a great benefit; if it is carried out quickly, it will be a great harm”; However, in practice, they could not resist the impulse of being eager for quick success and quick profits, and being eager for success. In addition, due to improper employment, some corrupt officials distorted policies, failed to implement them, and ignored “sufficient strength and external conditions to rely on”, which damaged the interests of all classes and strata of society, resulting in the following problems: Han Qi, Fubi, Ouyangxiu, simaguang, Han Wei, wenyanbo, Ouyangxiu, Su Shi Strong opposition from the opposition led by senior officials such as Su Zhe. Senior officials accused Wang Anshi of his ten mistakes in the reform, and Shangshu Shenzong stopped the “green seedling law”. Amid all the opposition, Wang Anshi tried to refute without any compromise.
Wang Anshi’s authentic letter to the general judge Department
Facing such great pressure, Shenzong wants to listen to everyone’s opinions. Wang Anshi’s persuasion failed. On the grounds of illness, he then proposed to resign and retire, threatening Shenzong. Shenzong certainly did not want Wang Anshi to go into seclusion, so he had to demote or dismiss several senior officials of the opposition. Sima Guang also wrote to Wang Anshi three times, listing the drawbacks of the implementation of the new law one by one, asking for the abandonment of the new law and the restoration of the old system. Wang Anshi, who can be called a “recalcitrant Prime Minister” by many ministers, still stubbornly refused to listen and insisted on his own views. In his reply, he not only refuted Sima Guang’s accusations one by one, but also severely criticized the conservative ideas of the scholar bureaucrats, indicating his unshakable determination to adhere to the reform. I think Sima Guang must have been very angry. When the Shenzong wanted to promote him to be the Deputy envoy of Shumi, he took the opportunity to propose to abolish the new law, but the Shenzong did not agree. Sima Guang, on the grounds of “no knowledge of finance” and “no military training”, joined five letters and resolutely refused to be promoted. He asked to leave Beijing for 15 years, regardless of political affairs, and devoted himself to compiling China’s largest chronological history book, Zizhi Tongjian, with a length of 294 volumes and nearly 4million words, making a very precious and outstanding contribution to the historical and cultural treasure house of the Chinese nation.
The favorable climate, location and people are important factors for success. The gradual abortion of the reform is the loss of these important factors. The drought in the spring of the seventh year of Xining (1074) displaced a large number of hungry people from their homes. The ministers linked this with the reform, and wrote to Shenzong under the pretext of the “Heaven change” that the new law invaded the people’s interests too much and was warned by heaven, setting off another attack on the reform. Zheng Xia, the minister who opposed the reform, drew a picture of refugees with both pictures and texts, submitted it to Shenzong as an urgent document, and pointed out the drawbacks of the new law. He urged Wang Anshi’s prime minister to be removed, saying that the drought was caused by Anshi, and if you go to Anshi, it will rain. Sima Guang did not neglect it either, but also wrote the imperial court’s failure statement in response to the imperial edict. Then, Empress Dowager Cao, Shenzong’s grandmother, and Empress Dowager Gao, his mother, cried to Shenzong that “Wang Anshi has disturbed the world”. This series of petitions against Wang Anshi, coupled with the original opposition of senior officials to the reform, Wang Anshi did not admit his mistakes, still insisted on his own views, and stubbornly fought back against all opponents, including targeting the Empress Dowager Cao and the family of Empress Dowager Gao. Shenzong, who had already doubted the reform, was even more worried when he saw Wang Anshi’s tough attitude. Wang Anshi also saw Shenzong’s dilemma, so he made a resignation report to Shenzong. Shenzong approved his resignation and changed him to be the grand Bachelor of Guan Wendian, who knew Jiangning mansion.
Although Wang Anshi left, he was replaced by Han Jiang, a scholar who was highly recommended by him in the same year, and his right-hand assistant lvhuiqing was the other one who took part in political affairs. So it seems that this is just an expedient measure of the God sect in a dilemma. The implementation of Wang Anshi’s new law will continue.
Soon after Wang Anshi’s appearance strike, it rained, which confirmed Zheng Xia’s prediction. I wonder what Shenzong and Wang Anshi think. Today, it seems that rain and prophecy are a coincidence, but whether it is coincidence or the accuracy of prophecy, Zheng Xia has long been relegated to the wild South of the five ridges.
The following year, “the spring breeze was again on the South Bank of the Green River”, and Wang Anshi was reinstated as prime minister. However, the Shenzong’s support for the reform was not as strong as before, and even wavered. In addition, the internal divisions of the reform faction made it difficult to continue the reform. Soon after, Wang Anshi’s eldest son died of illness. Exhausted, Wang Anshi resigned as prime minister and lived in seclusion in Jiangning. His painstaking laws were gradually repealed.
After the death of Shenzong, zhe Zong, who was only nine years old, succeeded to the throne. Empress dowager Gao, who listened to the government through the curtain, appointed Sima Guang as prime minister. According to the records in the history of Song Dynasty: “(Sima Guang) lived in Luoyang for 15 years. The world thought that he was the real prime minister. Tianfu Yelao was named Sima Xianggong. Women, people and children also knew that he was a monarch (Sima Guang’s word).” When Sima Guang came to the capital from Luoyang to offer condolences to the Shenzong, the guards of the capital recognized Sima Guang as the Prime Minister of Sima. Everywhere he went, the people asked him not to return to Luoyang, but to stay as prime minister to assist the emperor and save the people. It can be seen how high the voice of Sima Guang as prime minister is.
Sima Guang, no less stubborn than Wang Anshi, opposed the new law many years ago. He even said that “ice charcoal cannot be used as a container”. As soon as he took office, he recalled fanchunren, Su Shi, Su Zhe and other officials who had been relegated because of their opposition to the reform. He also recalled Lu Gongzhu, Wen Yanbo and other old officials, and began to abolish the new law with great vigour. A few months later, on the sixth day of April in the first year of Yuanyou (May 21, 1086), Wang Anshi, who did his best for the reform, exhausted his last efforts. On the first day of September (October 11, 1086), Sima Guang, a generation of politician, historian and writer, followed Wang Anshi and died of illness. I wonder if they will continue to fight in another world. Although they have been fighting for many years, they are all out of public interest and for the national interest, but they (including all officials opposed to the new law) have different political ideals and different understanding of the concept of national interest. They all respect and admire each other’s personality, knowledge and literary talent.
Yeah? No? Later generations’ comments on Wang Anshi’s reform never stopped. Chinese traditional historical criticism basically held a negative attitude, holding that the reform not only brought a series of social problems, but also caused fierce “party strife” and led to the demise of the Northern Song Dynasty. But there are different views. Huang Tingjian, a famous poet of the Northern Song Dynasty, said: “I have a good taste of his (Wang Anshi) demeanor. I really regard wealth as a floating cloud and do not indulge in wealth, wealth, wine and lust. I am a great man all my life.” In modern times, Mr. Liang Qichao commented on Wang Anshi and his new law, Wang Jinggong, and compared Wang Anshi’s new law measures with socialist theory. He called Wang Anshi the forerunner of socialist theory and completely overturned the case for Wang Anshi and his reform. Liang Qichao’s viewpoint has been recognized by many people and has become the mainstream viewpoint in the first half of the 20th century. In his letter to xiaozisheng, a senior student in June, 1915, Mao Zedong mentioned that “[Wang Anshi] has a special scholar, but the loser has no general knowledge and doesn’t know the reason of the society, so he can make inappropriate policies.” I think this evaluation is relatively pertinent, objective and fair. Reform at any time should proceed from objective reality, suit measures to local conditions, respect science, follow the objective law of things’ development, and take the prosperity of the country and the strength of the people as the criterion. Otherwise, it will cost a lot.
In addition to the political reform, Wang Anshi was also a heavyweight with outstanding literary achievements in the literary world of the Song Dynasty. He effectively promoted the reform movement of poetry and prose in the Northern Song Dynasty and swept away the flashy style of writing that was all the rage. As a member of the eight masters of Tang and Song Dynasties, he left behind works such as Linchuan collection, collection of Linchuan collection and collection of Mr. Linchuan’s works; It has left many famous articles, such as “a trip to baochan mountain” and “the spring breeze is green on the South Bank of the river” and essence articles with clear arguments, rigorous structure, strict logic, concise and incisive, short and powerful persuasion; It also left behind the “Wang Jinggong style” with profound meaning, euphemism and implication, neat rhetoric, and its own style in the poetry circle of the Northern Song Dynasty. His works are like human beings. They pay attention to social reality, pay attention to the suffering of the people, expose social contradictions, and play a very positive role in promoting the reform and completing the reform movement of poetry and prose in the Northern Song Dynasty and consolidating its achievements.
In short, Wang Anshi has left a lot of spiritual wealth to future generations, as well as a lot of disputes and warnings. His ups and downs and magnificent life make people feel and think.
(this article only represents the author’s point of view, not the position of this number)