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温斯顿·丘吉尔 写作的乐趣

2006-07-07 16:52

Winston Churchill


February 17,1908

  The fortunate people in the world-the only reallyfortunate people in the world,in my mind,-arethose whose work is also their pleasure.The classis not a large one,not nearly so large as it is oftenrepresented to be;and authors are perhaps one ofthe most important elements in its composition.They enjoy in this respect at least a real harmonyof life.To my mind,to be able to make your workyour pleasure is the one class distinction in theworld worth striving for;and I do not wonder thatothers are inclined to envy those happy human be-ings who find their livelihood in the gay effusionsof their fancy,to whom every hour of labour is anhour of enjoyment,to whom repose-however nec-essary-is a tiresome interlude.and even a holidayis almost deprivation.Whether a man writes wellor ill,has much to say or little,if he cares aboutwriting at all,he will appreciate the pleasures ofcomposition.To sit at one's table on a sunny morning,with four clear hours of uninterruptiblesecurity,plenty of nice white paper,and a Squeez-er pen-that is true happiness.The complete ab-sorption of the mind upon an agreeable occupa-tion-what more is there than that to desire?Whatdoes it matter what happens outside?The House ofCommons may do what it likes,and so may theHouse of Lords.The heathen may rage furiously inevery part of the globe.The bottom may beknocked clean out of the American market.Con-sols may fall and suffragettes may rise.Nevermind,for four hours,at any rate,we will with-draw ourselves from a common,ill-governed,and disorderly world,and with the key of fancyunlock that cupboard where all the good things ofthe infinite are put away.

  And speaking of freedom,is not the authorfree,as few men are free?Is he not secure,as fewmen are secure?The tools of his industry are socommon and so cheap that they have almost ceasedto have commercial value.He needs no bulky pileof raw material,no elaborate apparatus,no serviceof men or animals.He is dependent for his occupa-tion upon no one but himself,and nothing outsidehim that matters.He is the sovereign of an em-pire,self-supporting,self-contained.No onecan sequestrate his estates.No one can deprivehim of his stock in trade;no one can force him toexercise his faculty against his will;no one canprevent him exercising it as he chooses.The pen isthe great liberator of men and nations.No chainscan bind,no poverty can choke,no tariff can re-strict the free play of his mind,and even the“Times” Book Club can only exert a moderatelydepressing influence upon his rewards.Whetherhis work is good or bad,so long as he does his besthe is happy.I often fortify myself amid the uncer-tainties and vexations of political life by believingthat I possess a line of retreat into a peaceful andfertile country where no rascal can pursue andwhere one need never be dull or idle or even whollywithout power.It is then,indeed,that I feel de-voutly thankful to have been born foud of writing.It is then,indeed,that I feel grateful to all thebrave and generous spirits who,in every age and inevery land,have fought to establish the now un-questioned freedom of the pen.

  And what a noble medium the English lan-guage is.It is not possible to write a page withoutexperiencing positive pleasure at the richness andvariety,the flexibility and the profoundness of ourmother-tongue.If an English writer cannot saywhat he has to say in English,and in simple Eng-lish,depend upon it it is probably not worth say-ing.What a pity it is that English is not more gen-erally studied.I am not going to attack classical e-ducation.No one who has the slightest pretensionto literary tastes can be insensible to the attractionof Greece and Rome.But I confess our present ed-ucational system excites in my mind grave misgiv-ings.I cannot believe that a system is good,oreven reasonable,which thrusts upon reluctant anduncomprehending multitudes treasures which can only be appreciated by the privileged and giftedfew.To the vast majority of boys who attend ourpublic schools a classical education is from begin-ning to end one long useless,meaningless rigma-role.If I am told that classles are the best prepara-tion for the study of English,I reply that by farthe greater number of students finish their educa-tion while this preparatory stage is still incompleteand without deriving any of the benefits which arepromised as its result.

  And even of those who,without being great scholars,attain a certain general acquaintance withthe ancient writers,can it really be said that theyhave also obtained the mastery of English?How many young gentlemen there are from the universi-ties and public schools who can turn a Latin versewith a facility which would make the old Romanssquirm in their tombs.How few there are who canconstruct a few good sentences,or still less a fewgood paragraphs of plain,correct,and straightfor-ward English.Now,I am a great admirer of theGreeks,although,of course,I have to depend up-on what others tell me about them,-and I wouldlike to see our educationists imitate in one respect,at least,the Greek example.How is it that theGreeks made their language the most graceful andcompendious mode of expression ever known a- mong men?Did they spend all their time studyingthe languages which had preceded theirs? Did theyexplore with tireless persistency the ancient rootdialects of the vanished world?Not at all.Theystudied Greek.They studied their own language.They loved it,they cherished it,they adorned it,they expanded it,and that is why it survives amodel and delight to all posterity.Surely we,whose mother-tongue has already won for itselfsuch an unequalled empier over the modern world,can learn this lesson at least from the ancientGreeks and bestow a little care and some proper-tion of the years of education to the study of a language which is perhaps to play a predominant partin the future progress of mankind.

  Let us remember the author can always do hisbest.There is no excuse for him.The great crick-eter may be out of form.The general may on theday of decisive battle have a bad toothache or a badarmy.The admiral may be seasick—as a sufferer Ireflect with satisfaction upon that contingency.Caruso may be afflicted with catarrh,or Hacken-schmidt with influenza.As for an orator,it is notenough for him to be able to think well and truly.He must think quickly.Speed is vital to him.Spontaneity is more than ever the hall-mark ofgood speaking.All these varied forces of activityrequire from the performer the command of thebest that is in him at a particular moment whichmay be fixed by circumstances utterly beyond hiscontrol.It is not so with the author.He need nev-er appear in public until he is ready.He can alwaysrealise the best that is in him.He is not dependentupon his best moment in any one day.He maygroup together the best moments of twenty days.There is no excuse for him if he does not do hisbest.Great is his opportunity;great also his re-sponsibility.Someone—I forget who—has said: “Words are the only things which last for ever.”That is,to my mind,always a wonderful thought.The most durable structures raised in stone by thestrength of man,the mightiest monuments of hispower,crumble into dust,while the words spokenwith fleeting breath,the passing expression of theunstable fancies of his mind,endure not as echoesof the past,not as mere archaeological curiositiesor venerable relics,but with a force and life as newand strong,and sometimes far stronger than whenthey were first spoken,and leaping across the gulfof three thousand years,they light the world forus to-day.









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