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埃德蒙·伯克 同亚美利加和解

2006-07-07 17:20

Edmund Burke

CONCILIATION WITH AMERICA

1775

  America,gentlemen say,is a noble object.It is an object well worth fighting for.Certainly it is,if fighting a people be the best way of gaining them.Gentlemen in this respect will be led to their choice of means by their complexions and their habits.Those who understand the military art will,of course,have some predilection for it.Those who wield the thunder of the state may have more confidence in the efficacy of arms.But I confess,possibly for want of this knowledge,my opinion is much more in favor of prudent management than of force;considering force not as an odious,but a feeble instrument for preserving a people so numerous,so active,so growing,so spirited as this,in a profitable and subordinate connection with us.

  First,sir,permit me to observe,that the use of force alone is but temporary.It may subdue for a moment,but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again;and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered.

  My next objection is its uncertainty.Terror is not always the effect of force;and an armament is not a victory.If you do not succeed,you are with-out resource;for,conciliation failing,force re-mains;but,force failing,no further hope of re-conciliation is left.Power and authority are some-times bought by kindness,but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence.

  A further objection to force is that you impair the object by your very endeavors to preserve it.The thing you fought for is not the thing which you recover;but depreciated,sunk,wasted,and consumed in the contest.Nothing less will content me than whole America.I do not choose to consume its strength along with our own,because in all parts it is the British strength that I consume.I do not choose to be caught by a foreign enemy at the end of this exhausting conflict,and still less in the midst of it.I may escape;but I can make no insurance against such an event.Let me add,that I do not choose wholly to break the American spirit,because it is the spirit that has made the country.

  Lastly,we have no sort of experience in favor of force as an instrument in the rule of our colonies.Their growth and their utility have been owing to methods altogether different.Our ancient indulgence has been said to be pursued to a fault.It may be so;but we know,if feeling is evidence,that our fault was more tolerable than our attempt to mend it;and our sin far more salutary than our penitence.

  These,sir,are my reasons for not entertaining that high opinion of untried force.The people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen.England,sir,is a nation which still,I hope,respects,and formerly adored,her freedom.The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant;and they took this bias and direction the moment they part-ed from your hands.They are,therefore,not only devoted to liberty,but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles.Abstract liberty,like other mere abstractions,is not to be found.Liberty inheres in some sensible object;and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point which,by way of eminence,becomes the criterion of their happiness.It happened,you know,sir,that the great contests for freedom in this country were,from the earliest times,chiefly upon the question of taxing.Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates,or on the balance among the several orders of the state.The question of money was not with them so immediate.But in England it was otherwise.On this point of taxes the ablest pens and most eloquent tongues have been exercised;the greatest spirits have acted and suffered.

  Permit me,sir,to add another circumstance in our colonies,which contributes no mean part to-ward the growth and effect of this intractable spirit—I mean their education.In no other country,perhaps,in the world is the law so general a study.The profession itself is numerous and powerful,and in most provinces it takes the lead.The greater number of the deputies sent to Congress were lawyers.But all who read,and most do read,endeavor to obtain some smattering in that science.I have been told by an eminent bookseller that in no branch of his business,after tracts of popular devotion,were so many books as those on the law exported to the plantations.The colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use.I hear that they have sold nearly as many of“Blackstone's Commentaries”in Americans in England.

  The last cause of this disobedient spirit in the colonies is hardly less powerful than the rest,as it is not merely moral,but laid deep in the natural constitution of things.Three thousand miles of ocean lie between you and them.No contrivance can prevent the effect of this distance in weakening government.Seas roll and months pass between the order and the execution;and the want of a speedy explanation of a single point is enough to defeat the whole system.You have,indeed,“winged ministers”of vengeance,who carry your bolts in their pouches to the remotest verge of the sea.But there a power steps in that limits the arrogance of raging passion and furious elements,and says:“So far shalt though go,and no farther.”

埃德蒙·伯克

同亚美利加和解

1775年

  先生们说亚美利加是一个宏伟的目标,是很值得为之奋斗的目标。如果设法战胜一个民族是赢得他们的最好方法,那么它确实是一个宏伟目标。在这一方面先生们的信念和气质将会引导他们去选择手段。那些熟谙军事艺术的人当然偏爱用武。那些掌握国家军事力量的人更会相信武器的功效。但是,坦率地说,也许因为缺乏军事知识,我的意见更倾向于谨慎行事而不是动用武力。我认为,为使一个人数众多、积极有为、不断发展、情绪高昂的民族与我们保持有益的、从属的关系,武力虽非可憎,却也是无效的工具。

  先生们,首先请允许我说动武只是权宜之计。它可能使人一时屈服,但无法消除再次使用压服手段的必要性;一个需要不断地加以征服的国家是无法治理的。

  我反对动武的第二个理由是武力的不可靠性。

  动武并不总能使人害怕;武力并不就是胜利。你若不能取胜,你就没有退路。因为,安抚失败,武力尚存;但是,倘若武力失败,就再无安抚的希望了。权力和权威有时可以用仁慈去换来,但是决不可能用已耗尽的、遭到挫败的暴力像乞讨施舍似地去求得。

  我反对动武的第三个理由是你们意在保存上述目标的种种努力恰好损害了它。你们重新得到的东西不是你们为之斗争的东西;而是在争斗过程中已经贬值、地位下降、荒芜衰退、濒临枯竭的东西。完整的亚美利加会使我感到最大的满意。我不愿意消耗它的和我们自己的力量,因为我在各地所消耗的都是英国的力量。我不愿意在这场令人精疲力竭的冲突的结尾,更不愿在其中途,遭到外敌打击。我可以逃脱;但不能保证不出现这种情况。请容我再说一句,我完全不愿意破坏亚美利加精神,因为是亚美利加精神缔造了这个国家。

  最后一个理由,我们根本没有将武力作为工具来统治殖民地的经验。殖民地的发展和它们的功用得自于全然不同的方法。我们在古时实行的宽容据说达到了过分的程度。情况也许确实如此;但是,假如感情是一种证据,我们知道,我们的这个过失比改正过失的打算更可宽恕;我们的罪孽比悔罪更为有益。

  先生们,这些就是我为何不接受那种强烈的但未经检验的用武主张的理由。殖民地的人民是英国人的后裔。先生们,我希望过去崇尚自由的英国如今仍是一个尊重自由的国家。殖民地居民是从你们这里移居出去的,那时你们这种品质已表现得非常突出;他们与你们分手时带去了你们这里的爱好和倾向。所以,他们不仅忠诚于自由而且是按照英国人的思想和原则献身于自由的。抽象的自由如同其他纯粹的抽象概念一样是根本不存在的。自由生来即存在于某些可觉察到的客体之中;每个国家都形成某种它自己特别喜爱的东西,这种东西变得明显起来,终于成为衡量幸福的标准。先生们,你们知道,从古时候起,我国争取自由的伟大斗争恰好主要是在纳税问题上展开的。古代政治实体中的争斗主要开始于争夺选举地方行政官的权利或维持一国内部几个阶层间的平衡。金钱问题对他们来说不那么直接。但是在英国则不然。在纳税问题上,人们至今仍在使用最有力的文笔和最雄辩的口才,最能干的人物都参与进去,却都不能加以解决。

  先生们,请允许我补充我国殖民地的另一个情况,这对于这种倔强精神的发展及影响力起着不可低估的作用——我指的是他们的教育。也许世界上没有任何一个国家学习法律如此普遍。律师界人才济济,力量强大,且在多数殖民地居于领先地位。选派到议会的代表很多原来就是律师。所有读法律的人,其中大多数也确实读了点书,但他们所努力获得的只是对这门科学的一知半解。一位著名的书商曾对我说,在他的书店的分店中,销售的最多的是公众喜爱的小册子,其次即是出口到殖民地的有关法律的书籍。现在殖民地居民正在翻印这些书籍以供己用。我听说布兰克斯通的《法律评论》在亚美利加的销售量同在英国的销售量几乎持平。

  殖民地这种不服从精神作为最后一个原因,其影响并不亚于其他的原因,因为这不仅仅是个道德问题,而且深深植根于自然界的构造之中。你们和他们之间横隔着三千海里大洋。目前尚无法防止遥远的距离削弱统治。通过海路传递命令到执行命令往往要几个月时间;只要有一个问题得不到迅速解释即足以毁掉整个体系。你们确实面对着“生有翅膀的复仇大臣”,他们的袋里装着你们的霹雳直至天涯海角。但有一种力量介入来限制这种盛怒之威,并且说:“至此为止,回头是岸。”

  王德华 译

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