During the Xining reign period (1068-77) of Emperor Shenzong 宋神宗 (r. 1067-85), Prime Minister Wang Anshi (1021-86) implemented his New Reform Laws. Wanting to make use of people’s talents, he sometimes bypassed the formal channels to appoint people who had not passed the requisite exams as his circuit supervisors. Zhao Ji and Liu Yi were both promoted in this manner as defence judges for Xiongzhou and they in turn recommended people under them for other posts. A bold-faced jester:
… put on a skit before the emperor. He straddled an ass and rode up the hall to the royal dais; when the courtiers tried to stop him he said, `But I heard that anyone with legs could climb to the top!’ The numbers of those selected informally decreased.
See another example of a jester besting this top minister.
Source: Pingzhou ketan 萍洲可談, by Zhu Yu 朱彧 (fl. c. 1110), fol. 3, Siku Quanshu 四庫全書 (Shanghai: Guji Chubanshe, 1987), vol. 1038, p. 310a.
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